This is a legitimate question, worthy of further debate.

The concern: "The proposed credit introduces a layer of complexity that will likely discourage project teams from pursuing it. Instead of simply telling you what standard a product should follow it is asking you to do complex calculations."

The proposed credit primarily adds complexity in two ways:

1. Combines previously separate credits into a single credit worth up to five points, allowing partial credit for partial compliance.

2. Uses surface area to determine the percentage of compliance for all materials except furniture, which uses a cost basis.

Project teams must identify the total area for flooring/ceilings, walls, and insulation, and the area with compliant materials. Compliance for each layer is required. Projects must identify the cost of compliant furniture and total furniture cost. Previously, teams only had to identify that materials used in a project were compliant (and fewer materials were involved).

What are the benefits of this additional complexity?

Flexibility –Projects gain incentive to pursue low-emitting materials in all areas, as partial credit from one system (e.g. flooring) can be combined with partial credit in another (e.g. furniture) to achieve points. Previously the credits were all-or-nothing; therefore, teams could be discouraged from pursuing the points at all. In addition, this flexibility provides a platform for USGBC to easily adjust the stringency of the requirements without modifying the underlying structure as the market and technology change.

More Protective of Occupants –Larger surface areas of products have greater potential emissions. Products may emit VOCs through layers. By requiring all layers of floors, walls, and ceilings to comply and by basing the credit calculation on surface area, the credit requirements likely will correlate better with actual VOC exposure levels resulting from product emissions.

A cold read of the bare bones credit language may seem intimidating (change can be scary and little explanation is provided). However, we plan a simple spreadsheet to perform the calculations. See the example spreadsheet linked under “New Information Required” on the Birds Eye View tab. The reference guide will also contain guiding examples and other education materials.

How could we make the credit simpler?

Basing partial credit on cost instead of surface area would be simpler but cost is not necessarily tied to the potential emissions in the building. Eliminating the option of partial credit completely would greatly simplify the credit but make it tougher to achieve. Eliminating the content requirements on paints, coatings, and full-spread adhesives to instead only require emissions would be simpler but would eliminate an option for partial compliance and could arguably remove some protection for occupants.

Do these benefits warrant teams providing surface areas?

What other ideas would make the credit simpler?