Keep Up With the Latest Green Building Standards

March 15th, 2012 by DWM Magazine

There certainly is a lot for the industry to keep up with when it comes to green building issues. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) briefed its members on various environmental issues of importance during its annual legislative meeting held last week in Washington, D.C.

According to Jeff Inks, vice president of codes and regulatory affairs, the landscape of green regulation is changing and “the pace is picking up.” This is changing what and how manufacturers must communicate or report information, as well as the way they operate and manufacture their products.

When it comes to codes and standards, Inks reminded attendees of the programs in existence that cite material provisions including: LEED; ICC International Green Construction Code; ICC 700—National Green Building Standard; and ASHRAE 189.1. While some of these pertain to commercial applications, he gave some examples from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes Program that the industry should be aware of. For example, there is an environmentally preferable products provision, option one, that says 50 percent of framing, concrete/cement and aggregate and drywall/interior sheathing must be extracted, processed and manufactured within 50 miles of the building.

Option two says products must meet one of the following: composed of at least 25 percent reclaimed material; 25 percent post or 50 percent pre-consumer, 50 percent rapidly renewable material; FSC or better certified wood; or bio-based material meeting SANSAS & ASTM D6866.

Option one and two also require the following: “Manufacturers and their raw materials suppliers must annually report data to a publically available database maintained by a third party.”

Manufacturers must also report data on: governance; environmental impact (energy, water, waste, materials, biodiversity, air quality); labor practices; financial reporting; and product responsibility.

Inks also briefed attendees on ICC 700–National Green Building Standard, currently in final public review for the 2012 edition. The standard covers all single- and multi-family buildings, regardless of height.

The energy provisions are as follows: 2009 IECC as the baseline and must acquire additional points for bronze, silver, gold and emerald (ENERGY STAR for Home version 3.0 or compliance with 2012 IECC is acceptable for bronze).

Options for additional mandatory material points include: structural material usage options, a minimal amount of structural member materials, use of stronger materials, use of performance-based design, design building dimensions and layouts to reduce material use, which includes windows and skylights.

Options for additional mandatory material points include the use of various materials such as prefabricated components, materials not needing site-applied finishes, reused or salvaged materials, recycled content materials, renewable materials–bio-based and wood-based, resource- efficient materials–for example, products using less material and regional materials.

The Federal Trade Commission has been in the news lately, and Inks mentioned the commission’s “Green Guides,” which give marketers guidance to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims. It also cautions them to not make blanket, general claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly.” Inks also said companies need to ensure the qualifications that apply to certifications or seals should be clear, prominent and specific.

The FTC proposed revisions published for public review in October 2010, but there is no date as to when this will be finalized.

Inks also briefed members on the topic of life cycle assessment (LCA), which is an issue being studied by various industry associations.

There is increasing pressure for product manufacturers to look at LCA, environmental product declarations (EPD) and product category rules (PCR).

Companies can perform LCAs in accordance with product specific PCRs and report information through a verified Type III EPD.

Cradle-to-gate analysis of environmental impact is measured by: climate change, eutrophication, photochemical smog, fossil fuel depletion, ozone depletion, human toxicity and ecotoxicity.

Inks pointed out there are many good uses … and potential misuses.

Stay tuned to dwmmag.com and the print edition for future updates on these codes and standards regarding green building.

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