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Big News on v4.1 MR Credits: Our 2021 Q2 Addenda Update

USGBC has lowered thresholds for compliance with Materials & Resources credits, making these even more accessible for project teams.
Matt Dempsey
April 20, 2021

USGBC did some spring cleaning last week, and the LEED Materials & Resources category was first on its list. The 2021 Quarter 2 Addenda include some significant updates to requirements for Environmental Product Declarations, Sourcing of Raw Materials, and Materials Ingredients across both BD+C and ID+C v4.1 rating systems—so if you have a project pursuing any of these credits, stop and read this first!

The group of MR credits aimed at selecting preferred materials and driving market shifts have, in the past, caused some headaches for project teams. But set to alleviate some of that are new lowered thresholds for compliance.

The new thresholds, explained

Diving into things: For Sourcing of Raw Materials, teams need only hit 15% by cost from three manufactures (one point) or 30% by cost from five manufacturers (two points) that meet the credit’s responsible sourcing and extraction criteria. This is down from 20% by cost (one point) and 40% by cost (two points) previously. Going further, the threshold for Exemplary Performance in this credit has also dropped from 60% by cost down to 45% by cost – bringing that additional point just a little more within reach.

In Option 2 of the Environmental Product Declarations credit, there is no longer the option to comply via percentage cost; however, one point will be awarded for just five permanently installed products (yes, you read that right) from at least three different manufactures that hold a compliant embodied carbon optimization report. In line with this change, the threshold for Exemplary Performance in this credit is ten compliant products from at least five manufacturers.

Finally, Option 2 of the Material Ingredients credit has also been revised, similar to its sister credit mentioned above, to award one point for only five permanently installed products from at least three different manufacturers that hold a compliant material ingredient report or action plan. The method of complying by percentage cost has also been removed. As with EPDs, Exemplary Performance for this credit is now lowered to ten compliant products from at least five manufactures.

For all three options mentioned here, compliant products that are extracted, manufactured and purchased within 100 miles (160 kms) will still double the base contributing cost or number of products, up to a maximum of 200% cost or two products respectively.

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Bottom line on MR credits

So, what is LEEDUser’s advice for teams pursuing these MR credits, you ask? Well, if you’re currently tracking material cost for Sourcing of Raw Materials, now is the time to revisit your calculations to see if your project is on track to meeting the lowered thresholds. Who knows? You might even pick up an extra point!

For Option 2 of Environmental Product Declarations and Material Ingredients, our advice is that compliant products are most feasible when there is still wiggle room in the project’s finish schedule. If this is the case, try reviewing product databases through the GBCI Better Materials portal or reach out directly to manufacturers to see what is on offer. With a little extra effort, teams may find themselves with five suitable products that comply.

Remember: any v4 project can substitute an unlimited number of v4.1 version of credits. These are a perfect candidate for substitution.

New guidance on water and energy

Other items on the hit list for the Q2 addenda included new guidance on municipal alternative water sources for the Indoor Water Use Reduction Credit and site energy use for the Renewable Energy credit, as well as a CIR allowing projects to apply of ASHRAE 90.1-2019 in lieu of ASHRE 90.1-2016 for the Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite.

Not to be forgotten are also a number of important updates to the language of several credits’ intents, which are the guiding light for project teams and reviewers alike.

Commissioning agents can now be from the same firm

Before we go, one sneaky update made its release shortly after the bulk of the 2021 Q1 addenda that deserves some airtime: The Enhanced Commissioning credit has been revised so that Commissioning Agents may now be employees of the design or construction firm, provided they are a disinterested, non-member of the design or construction team. There is also additional guidance on how the commissioning process should be documented for LEED. See the addendum itself for full details.

As always, make sure to download yourself a copy of the latest v4.1 Beta Guide, which is now reflective of the Q2 addenda changes. USGBC’s Q2 addenda update is also available here.

Date updated: 
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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April 27, 2021 - 12:02 pm

Wes Sullens, your link doesn't seem to work.

April 26, 2021 - 3:07 pm

Hi everyone - yes there are new thresholds for these three materials credits and the Exemplary Performance thresholds have been updated, too. You can find the details by downloading the PDF "guide" for each rating system at this page: https://www.usgbc.org/leed/v41 

On the whole, these changes reflect mounting feedback USGBC has heard from project teams that have been avoiding the Sourcing 2nd point credit threshold or avoiding the EPD and Material Ingredient credit - Option 2s. By making these changes in April, the LSC and our M&R TAG hope it will spur project teams to re-attempt these credit options, which will lead to greater demand for responsibly sourced and optimized products. 

April 26, 2021 - 2:48 pm

Hi Sophie! My response to your original question outlined EP for Option 1, as EP for Option 2 is detailed here in the blog post. So in summary: EP for Envrironmental Product Declarations Opion 1 and Material Ingredients Option 1 each require 40 compliant products from 10 manufacturers (20 eligible products from 5 manufacturers for C&S/W&D). EP for Envrironmental Product Declarations Opion 2 and Material Ingredients Option 2 each require 10 compliant products from 5 manufacturers. Hope this clears things up!

April 26, 2021 - 10:59 am

Matthew Dempsey, this doesn't seem correct. EP was double the number of products but now it's 4 times? The number of products required for Option 2 is now 5 as per the latest addendum, I would expect EP to be 10 products. 

April 26, 2021 - 9:18 am

Yes, per the current v4.1 Beta Guide for Option 1 of the Environmental Product Declarations and Material Ingredients credits projects must 'Purchase at least 40 qualifying permanently installed building products from ten different manufacturers that meet the credit criteria (Purchase at least 20 products from five different manufacturers for Core and Shell and Warehouse & Distribution Centers)' respectively  to achieve EP. 

April 25, 2021 - 12:20 pm

Thank you LEEDuser for flagging this huge change to Enhanced commissioning in v4.1. Allowing a disinterested QUALIFIED member of the design or construction firms is huge and welcome. There are also much-needed clarifications related to documenting at submission what action items or tests are not completed but will be in the near future.

While those that know me will understand why I support this concept. This is good for teams that include highly qualified multi-discipline team members that have deep commissioning qualifications. That being said, I wish GBCI would spend more time reviewing the qualifications submitted for the CxA. I know of no time that the CxA has been challenged or asked for further proof of competence. There have been many times that I have seen or been made aware of CxA individuals and firms that have done extremely poor work or such abbreviated service to have negated any positive effect on the project.

April 22, 2021 - 6:26 pm

Is there an EP for options 1 and 2? What are the thresholds?