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LEED and Sustainability


Green building isn’t a trend, it’s here to stay and will only become more common. In this changing landscape, architects, building owners, contractors, and distributors are finding themselves navigating an ocean of terminology and learning new ways to earn LEED points. This page provides a bird’s eye view of green building in layman’s terms and how it relates to steel doors and frames.

Overview
LEED 2009 vs. LEED v4
Definitions
Resources

While doors and hardware typically account for less than 2% of a building project, thoughtfully selected door openings can make significant contributions for design professionals working toward LEED 4 points or a net zero environment. They can also bring additional energy savings for the building owner.

It’s not only important – and sometimes mandatory – to build green, but also to effectively document it to contribute toward the appropriate credits. Working with manufacturers who are experienced with LEED projects will make your job much easier. 

SDI member manufacturers have a deep understanding of LEED and can provide the necessary certification contribution documents. Their steel doors and frames are highly recyclable and US manufacturers have a much smaller footprint than those abroad. Consider contacting an SDI manufacturer early in the design phase of your next project with steel doors and frames so they can help you maximize your points.

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LEED 2009 vs. LEED v4

All LEED projects registered after October 2016 must comply with the more stringent LEED v4 rather than LEED 2009. The LEED v4 rating system has been expanded to include 21 more types of projects such as hospitality, school renovations, and retail renovations, to name a few. Some of the most significant changes were made to the Building Design & Construction (BD+C) category because more emphasis is now placed on the overall environmental footprint. The major changes to the BD+C category are summarized below.

  • NEW! Location and Transportation — This new category was created to encourage the use of sites with development constraints. Projects can earn credit for building on a LEED Neighborhood Development site or “high priority site.” Other updates encourage the availability of bicycle facilities, a reduced parking footprint, and reserved parking spaces for green vehicles.

  • Materials and Resources—This category has some of the biggest changes in LEED v4. The requirements in this section encourage the use of sustainable building materials and reducing waste on site to support a “life-cycle approach.” (Note: This is the where SDI members can help architects contribute.)

  • Sustainable Sites — This category encourages strategies to minimize the impact on ecosystems. LEED v4 adds a credit for a “Site Assessment,” which encourages assessing a site’s topography, hydrology, climate, vegetation, soils, and human use before starting the design.

  • Water Efficiency—The Water Efficiency section addresses indoor use, outdoor use, specialized uses and metering of water. Reducing outdoor water use is no longer optional in LEED v4.  Each project must have meters measuring whole-building water use.

  • Energy and Atmosphere—Similar to the Water Efficiency section, this category now requires each project to be capable of measuring whole-building energy use. Projects must now track the total building energy consumption monthly for five years and report the measurements back to the USGBC. For companies looking to improve energy efficiency, an energy assessment can identify common inefficiencies and help achieve LEED certification.

This is only a high level summary of some of the key differences between LEED 2009 and LEED v4. For more specific information, please visit the USGBC website.

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Definitions

In 2016, the Steel Door Institute worked with Underwriters Laboratories Environment in the development of the first Product Category Rules (PCR) for steel doors and frames. The Product Category Rules enable manufacturers to conduct Life Cycle Assessments and develop an Environmental Product Declaration to help building projects comply with LEED v4.

If this still sounds like a foreign language, the definitions below should help clear things up.

Product Category Rules (PCR)
PCRs define the requirements for Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declarations of a certain product category. They are essential in the development of environmental declarations because they allow you to compare like products.

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA)
LCAs assess the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life – from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Design professionals use this process to help critique their products.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)
An EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. There are different types of EPDs and they can be industry wide as well as product specific.

Note: Having an EPD for a product does not imply that the declared product is environmentally superior to alternatives. It is simply a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.

LEED v4
An updated LEED standard that includes more market sectors, a stronger emphasis on indoor environmental quality and human health, and an increased focus on how buildings need to demonstrate their performance through energy and water metering. New categories include climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community, and natural resources.

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Resources

  • USGBC website - LEED information
  • EPD website – information on Environmental Product Declarations and Product Category Rules
  • Wikipedia – article on Life Cycle Assessments
  • UL SPOT – web-based product sustainability information tool

Certification programs

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