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3 LEED credits worth reading

Written by Heidi Jandris and Jennifer Wagner. This is the second blog in a two-part series. Part II was originally published in the March 2017 issue of High-Profle Monthly. Part I of this blog series is entitled “Concrete Masonry is Sustainable” and was published in the November 2016 green issue.

In part one of this two-part blog series, concrete masonry’s sustainable attributes were described: its resiliency, durability, efficiency and versatility. In addition to lowering the environmental footprint of buildings, using masonry can also help provide valuable Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points in your next design project. Here’s how.

LEED has always made it a priority to push industry to redefine what makes a material sustainable for manufacturers, designers and building owners. The definition of what makes a building material green has evolved in the new version of LEED (version 4). LEED v4 came into full effect on October 31st, 2016. For building materials, LEED v4 takes into account a broad range of considerations, including regional sourcing, recycled content and the environmental and health impacts over a product’s life cycle.

Compared to previous versions, LEED v4 takes a more holistic approach to defining a green building material with a particular focus on life cycle impacts and supply chain management, which takes the scope of LEED one step deeper into the manufacturing process. This change now requires architects to request more rigorous information from manufacturers. In the past, self-declared recycled content and bare bones regional declarations were enough to contribute to LEED  credits, but under LEED v4 this is no longer the case.


 Figure 1: A. Jandris & Sons has provided masonry to dozens of LEED products, including this school.   

Now that LEED is redefining what makes a material sustainable, less emphasis is being put on a product’s individual attributes. This new emphasis is reflected in the redistribution of points in the Materials & Resources credits. For example, under LEED 2009 points were awarded for products with recycled or regional content, without considering other aspects of sustainability (i.e. are there hazards associated with the recycled content?). In LEED v4, these attributes fall under one new credit category called “Building Product Disclosure & Optimization (BPDO)”, where projects can receive up to six points (two credits in each of three categories). The three new BPDO credits that consider a designer’s use of sustainable products are: 1) environmental product declarations (EPDs), 2) sourcing of raw materials, and 3) material ingredients. In LEED v4, regional materials is not a separate credit, but rather is introduced as a value multiplier that applies to multiple credits.

Why are these credits important?

The intent of these BPDO credits is to encourage the use of products that have “environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts,”  or more specifically: 

  • Under the environmental product declarations credit, points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different products that have issued EPDs. EPDs that are issued for a specific product (Type III EPDs) provide twice as much value as industry-wide (generic) EPDs.
  • Under the sourcing of raw materials credit, points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different products that have raw material source and extraction documentation, or if the manufacturers meet responsible extraction practice requirements, such as the use of recycled content.
  • Under the material ingredients credit, points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different products with reported chemical inventory to at least 0.1% (1000 ppm) with documents such as a Health Product Declaration (HPD).

For each of these three credits, the 20 products must be sourced from at least five separate manufacturers, which means a single manufacturer can contribute four products. Additionally, for each credit, a regional multiplier is available if products are sourced within 100 miles of the project.

Masonry can contribute to many of these credits in LEED v4. Leading masonry producers like A. Jandris & Sons have taken steps to ensure their products are as sustainable as possible. The company now incorporates waste carbon dioxide emissions from local industrial sources into their products with a technology called CarbonCure. They have also issued EPDs and HPDs for the products they manufacture. Click here for more information on Jandris' masonry products. 

Learn how CarbonCure works


Heidi Jandris,

LEED Green Associate, provides technical and design services for A. Jandris & Sons, Inc., a family owned structural and architectural concrete masonry manufacturer located in Massachusetts. A. Jandris & Sons is the first CMU manufacturer on the East Coast to have 3rd party verified environmental product declarations (EPDs) for each of their mix designs.  Heidi was the Chair of the National Concrete Masonry Association’s (NCMA) EPD Task Group which developed the product category rules for the concrete masonry industry, and is current chair of the NCMA Education Committee.  She grew up immersed in the industry, and earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. | 978.632.0089

Jennifer Wagner,

LEED Green Associate and Vice President of Sustainability at CarbonCure Technologies, helps architects, engineers and developers meet their needs for sustainable concrete. She has helped company licensees issue the first Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and Health Product Declarations (HPD) in the concrete industry. She is a Canadian Standards Association-certified GHG (greenhouse gas) inventory quantifier, LEED Green Associate and sits on the board of directors for the Health Product Declaration Collaborative and formerly the Atlantic Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council. Wagner holds a BSc from McGill University, an MSc in Chemistry and an MBA from Dalhousie University. | 902.442.4020

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