Three LEED Credits Worth Reading

by Heidi Jandris and Jennifer Wagner

This blog is part of a two-part series. Part 1 of this series is titled “Concrete Masonry is Sustainable” and was published in High Profile’s green issue in November 2016.

In part 1 of this two-part blog series, we described concrete masonry’s sustainable attributes: 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 31, 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.

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 and resources credits. For example, under LEED 2009, points were awarded for products with recycled or regional content, without considering other aspects of sustainability. 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 industrywide (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% (1,000 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.

For more information, visit:


Heidi Jandris

Heidi Jandris, LEED green associate, provides technical and design services for A. Jandris & Sons, Inc. in Massachusetts.


Jennifer Wagner

Jennifer Wagner, LEED green associate,is vice president of sustainability at CarbonCure Technologies.