While various transparency labels such as Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Health Product Declarations (HPDs), and Cradle to Cradle Certified Products have received a great deal of attention under LEED v4, project teams can also be rewarded by choosing products from manufacturers that have publicly released information from their raw materials suppliers indicating extraction locations, a long-term commitment to ecologically responsible land use, efforts to reduce environmental harms from extraction and/or manufacturing processes, and dedication to voluntarily meeting applicable standards or programs that address responsible sourcing criteria.
Under the Materials and Resources Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Sourcing of Raw Materials, project teams can achieve a point for the disclosure component by using at least 20 different permanently installed products (from five different manufacturers) that meet either of the following criteria:
- Products sourced from manufacturers with self-declared reports (valued at one half of a product).
- Products sourced from manufacturers with third-party verified corporate sustainability reports (CSRs) that address the extraction operations and activities associated with the product's supply chain.
Not just any CSR will do. USGBC has been careful to thwart the potential for greenwashing by identifying a number of acceptable CSR frameworks, including those identified below:
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report
The GRI reporting framework is widely considered the most comprehensive and supports third-party verification through a network of approved assurance providers. Users should beware of various report qualifiers.
For more info: globalreporting.org/
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
The OECD guidelines serve as a comprehensive social responsibility instrument that sets forth voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conducts in variety of areas ranging from employment and industrial relations to human rights to information disclosure. The guidelines are general and therefore must lean on third-party verification to ensure conformance with the credit requirements.
U.N. Global Compact (UNGC): Communication of Progress
The UNGC is a policy framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of 10 "sustainability principles" in four core arenas: labor, human rights, anti-corruption, and environment. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines can be utilized to produce the UNGC Communication of Progress - which is used to demonstrate progress toward identified principles. The GRI guidelines are necessary for independent verification.
Fore more info: unglobalcompact.org/participation/report/cop
ISO 26000: 2010 Guidance on Social Responsibility
ISO 26000 provides guidance rather than requirements, so it cannot be certified to unlike some other well-known ISO standards. It is intended to assist organizations in contributing to sustainable development beyond legal compliance. In order to document product compliance for credit, teams will need to provide a publicly available document confirming the manufacturer’s third-party-verified corporate sustainability report.
For more info: iso.org/iso/home/standards/iso26000
USGBC Approved Program
Additionally, USGBC reserves the right to approve other programs meeting the credit's CSR criteria.
Just Being Honest
Similar to other product disclosure documents (e.g., EPDs and HPDs), a CSR is not a testament of environmental responsibility. Much like the nutrition label on a box of cereal, disclosure documents simply report various environmental and/or human health impacts associated with building products. The act of optimizing project decisions based on disclosure documents is another exercise that builds upon disclosure documents.
Where can a team find CSRs? Aside from individual manufacturers' websites, comprehensive building product management resources, such as GreenWizard, are quickly beginning to exhibit CSRs as part of their standard suite of product documents in response to LEED v4.
For more information about LEED v4 and acceptable CSR reporting frameworks, please see USGBC.org/v4.