New LEED Materials Credit Addresses Chemicals of Concern

by | Oct 29, 2010

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has added a new LEED materials credit for “Chemical Avoidance in Building Materials” to its LEED Pilot Credit Library, reports Healthy Building News.

Together, with an earlier credit for “PBT Source Reduction: Dioxins and Halogenated Organic Compounds” marks the beginning of a three-step approach the USGBC is undertaking to address “chemicals of concern” in building materials, according to the article.

The new pilot credit “acknowledges and supports contemporary and accepted knowledge about specific chemicals of concern that should be avoided,” according to the Pilot Credit documentation, which can be met by screening interior finish products to avoid the use of phthalates and halogenated flame retardants.

USGBC says these chemicals are listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Existing Chemicals Program, as well as California’s list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity, which is also known as Proposition 65, reports Healthy Building News.

In January, the EPA took preliminary steps to set standards by 2013 or ban four types of chemicals of concern including phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are flame retardants.

EPA announced in 2009 that three U.S. companies — Chemtura, Albemarle and ICL Industrial Products — agreed to phase out DecaBDE, a widely used fire retardant chemical that may potentially cause cancer and may impact brain function.

The USGBC’s action coincides with a scientists’ consensus statement of concern on flame retardants, which was signed by 145 prominent scientists from 22 countries, and endorsed by the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), reports Healthy Building News.

The new LEED credit does not address all of the EPA’s “chemicals of concern” that are widely used in building products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), and many epoxy-based products, or perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), according to the article.

However, these chemicals could be addressed by USGBC as a next step in its strategy to eliminate chemicals of concern from building products.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, New York and Oregon now have limits on BPA, particularly in products used by children.

The USGBC encourages project teams to use the LEED Pilot Credit Library on LEEDuser to learn more about the Pilot Credits and to participate in the pilot process.

A $100-million lawsuit was recently filed against USGBC, alleging fraud, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, and false advertising.

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