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How to choose the right materials for a LEED project?

The choice of materials for sustainable projects has a significant impact on the environment. LEED certification has a specific category called Materials and Resources which dictates the environmental criteria to follow in selecting construction materials but also managing construction waste. This section encourages the use of more renewable materials and asks manufacturers to provide information on their products and components over their life cycle, LEED also encourages the team to use materials that are reused, salvaged or reused in part or whole. The overall objective being to choose materials which are environmentally friendly, are local as much as possible, biobased, with low toxic emissions and which have a minimized environmental impact throughout their life cycle.

LEED certification includes 2 prerequisites and 5 credits for the Materials and Resources category that can earn up to 13 points.

What are the LEED prerequisites for the Materials and Resources category?

Storage and collection of recyclable materials: This involves reducing the amount of waste generated by building users and organizing the collection, storage of recyclable materials and the transport of this waste to landfills for disposal.

Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning: This involves setting waste diversion goals by identifying at least five materials (structural and non-structural) for diversion and establishing recyclable or reusable material redistribution strategies.

What are the LEED prerequisites? Check out our blog post.

What criteria should you consider when selecting materials?

1. Reduction of the impact of the building's life cycle

The aim here is to demonstrate a reduction in environmental impact during initial project decisions by reusing existing building resources or by demonstrating reductions in material use through life cycle assessments.

2. Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

The Environmental Product Declaration is a document produced by the manufacturer describing the environmental impact of products based on factors such as global warming, eutrophication, ozone depletion, ocean acidification and more. This is to encourage the use of products and materials for which life cycle information is available and which have economic and social benefits throughout their life cycle.

One point is therefore awarded if the material chosen has this documentation and another point can be awarded if its environmental data is optimal, i.e. demonstrating an impact reduction below the industry average. Local materials are also favored and encouraged.

3. Sourcing of Raw Materials

Methods for sourcing raw materials are also important. This credit rewards projects that use materials that have optimized extraction processe