Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) – LEED v4 New Concept

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Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is an internationally recognized summary report used to transparently communicate the environmental performance of products and services based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). EPDs distill complicated information to empower customers such as architects, designers and contractors to make informed decisions based on environmental factors.

Environmental Product Declarations are a relatively new concept to the building industry. However, the LEED consultants at SBS forecast that developing and submitting EPDs will become mainstream practice for product manufacturers and project teams pursuing LEED v4 certified projects. Why?…Because a new credit called Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Environmental Product Declarations will be very easy and inexpensive LEED point to achieve with little burden on the project teams…so it’s highly likely that architects, interior designers and contractors will be requesting Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for their favorite products from product manufacturers.

An Environmental Product Declaration reports a handful of environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming potential, as well as several other environmental factors that result from product manufacturing, use and disposal. An Environmental Product Declaration is a summary of the much longer but well known concept…the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) report.

To qualify for full credit in LEED, a product’s Environmental Product Declaration must follow a certain process and reporting format outlined in a wide ranging and impressive array of ISO standards and has to be certified by a third party. Additionally, a project pursuing the LEED credit can get partial credit by using LCAs created according to ISO standard 14044 as well as generic Environmental Product Declarations for a whole class of materials.

The intent of the LEED credit is to jump-start transparency for products as soon as possible by getting more manufacturers to produce Environmental Product Declaration reports. Ultimately the goal is to encourage better environmental performance from products. Once more and more manufacturers release EPDs, project teams will be able to use Environmental Product Declarations to make informed decisions about sustainability issues like embodied carbon, energy and water.

For a deeper look at the strengths and weaknesses of Environmental Product Declarations see, “The Product Transparency Movement,” Environmental Building News Jan. 2012.

For help developing an Environmental Product Declaration for LEED v4 certification click here to contact the LEED consultants at Sustainable Building Services.



USGBC Northern Colorado Awards Becca Walkinshaw Volunteer of the Month

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FORT COLLINS, COLORADO. –July 1, 2013 – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Northern Colorado Branch awarded Becca Walkinshaw, Sustainability Coordinator at Gallegos Sanitation, Inc., with the Volunteer of the Month Award for going Above and Beyond. The award was presented at the Green Drinks Fort Collins event on June 26, 2013 and is a testament to Walkinshaw’s dedication to sustainability.

Walkinshaw has been with GSI since 2007 and her duties include the management of waste diversion programs for businesses, construction sites, events and schools. She also coordinates the sustainability endeavors for the company. In 2010, Walkinshaw completed her Green Building Certificate program from Colorado State University and received her LEED Green Associated accreditation in 2011. In addition to working at GSI and volunteering for the USGBC, Walkinshaw also donates her time to the Climate Wise Advisory Committee.

Green Drinks 2013 267


“Since volunteering with the USGBC Northern Colorado Branch, I have had the pleasure of working with thought leaders who care about our community and taking action to effect change.  The branch also provides me with the opportunity to use my passion in education to teach businesses and construction sites to better understand green building logic and how it relates to waste diversion from the landfill.


About U.S. Green Building Council: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building certification program, robust educational offerings, a network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information about the Northern Colorado Chapter visit http://www.usgbccolorado.org.

About Gallegos Sanitation, Inc.: Gallegos Sanitation, Inc. (GSI) is a local, family-owned and operated business that has been servicing Northern Colorado with waste and recycling services for over 50 years. GSI has grown to be the most visible waste and recycling hauler in Northern Colorado. They offer a variety of services that includes portable toilet and hand-washing station rentals, waste and recycling services for homes, businesses, construction sites, and special events, along with composting and yard waste recycling services. Since 1959, GSI has focused on providing economical, quality waste and recycling collection. GSI takes pride in giving back to the community and is a proud supporter of local businesses. For more information, visit www.gsiwaste.com.

LEED Consultants can help older buildings pursue LEED-EBOM

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It might seem counter-intuitive, but the older the building, the more beneficial LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) strategies can be.  This can particularity be the case for institutional, office, and commercial buildings more than 30 years old.  Greening these buildings can produce more benefit in terms of operations savings and energy use reduction because they tend to have older, more inefficient operational systems than newer buildings.  A LEED Consultant can analyze the operations of these buildings and establish a preliminary checklist of system upgrades and potential LEED credits to implement.

Older buildings can sometime be like older people, set in their ways!   When the lights turn on, the HVAC works, and the water runs, it can be difficult to muster the time to analyze exactly what the environmental and social costs are of daily operations.  The same supplies and consumables can be used for years without examination.  Occupants adjust to the indoor air quality and temperature by the placement of fans, heaters, and window use.  Employees are used to the daily drive and the walk from the parking lot.  Operations go on like normal, and if the building is over 30 years old, normal operations can equal enormous costs.

Economic costs can sometimes be the driver for change, as rising monthly energy and water costs can often be a trigger to look at how the building actually runs.  A LEED Consultant can shine the light on the unseen environmental and social costs of the building, while analyzing energy and water usage by building systems.  It can often be a relief to building owners to understand what and why the building is incurring the costs that it is.

Regardless of building owner’s intent to pursue LEED certification, implementing as many LEED strategies as possible makes sense.  Tidying up how the building operates and what procedures and materials are used to maintain it will reduce costs and increase efficiency.  Employees and occupants will be happier to have cleaner indoor air, consistent temperatures, alternative transportation programs, and other green benefits.  Socially, the building will set a good example of how older buildings can reduce their carbon footprint and “green up” – a fact that can be used to boost its market value.

These benefits, and many others, make older buildings a great target for LEED EBOM.  As LEED Consultants, we can start a conversation on your building and how the LEED program could make a positive impact.

LEED Management for General Contractors – Top 5 Tips

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The following are our Top 5 Tips for LEED management for general contractors. The LEED management of the General Contractor plays a vital role in the ultimate success of a LEED certified project and a great deal of responsibility lies with the General Contractor to implement and document LEED credit requirements. Thus, it is imperative that the General Contractor understands and keeps the entire construction team including subcontractors focused on the LEED management responsibilities and goals. Here are the top 5 tips a General Contractor should keep in mind to facilitate LEED management.

1.      Know the LEED requirements

The GC should fully understand the LEED requirements for the project. This will vary by certification level and the specific credits that the project is pursuing. Start with the preliminary LEED scorecard to get an overview of the specific credit requirements. Review the anticipated credits with your team to determine who is responsible for each. Then review the specifications for more detail on material and construction management requirements.  

2.      Designate a LEED Project Manager or LEED Consultant

The GC must be prepared to designate someone dedicated to managing the LEED process. They will function as the primary LEED driver, keeping everyone on course, and tracking submittals and deliverables. It’s important that they have LEED project management experience and enough dedicated time for managing the process. It can be very difficult and overwhelming for someone with limited experience or time to dedicate to the process. It may be a wise investment to work with a LEED consultant if your team doesn’t have the in-house capacity or would simply rather subcontract the LEED management and documentation. LEED consultants work on a great number and variety of LEED projects and are able to bring a wealth of experience to the team. Further, team members who work with LEED consultants are typically more knowledgeable and better prepared on subsequent LEED projects.      

3.      Develop and follow a LEED Action Plan

The single most important aspect of the construction phase of a LEED project involves the preparation and strict adherence to a project specific LEED action plan. Just as an effective safety plan will go beyond a list of safe work practices and cause individual workers to make daily decisions that are consistent with a culture of safety, so too will an effective LEED action plan cause workers to make decisions that are consistent with a culture of sustainability. Both ultimately rely on leadership from the GC and proper implementation by the on-site workers.

4.      Provide Leadership to Subs – Educate them early and often

The GC must provide direction and promote the sustainable culture and intent of LEED. The best way for the GC to garner support from subcontractors and facilitate the LEED process is to educate workers early and often. The GC should start with a pre-contract and LEED kickoff meeting to discuss the LEED action plan before any trade work begins. Use this opportunity to review the LEED performance criteria and documentation requirements. Then discuss LEED strategies and deliverables at regular progress meetings. Frequent and thorough coordination with subs and the project team is essential.

5.      Document, Document, Document

Proper LEED documentation is a major part of achieving LEED certification and it can be very challenging for new teams. The documentation must be organized correctly and accurate because it will be audited by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) during the LEED certification application.

Collect the LEED documentation as soon as possible and kept current. Don’t wait until the end of the project! Many subcontractors are off the project for some time before the application for LEED certification and it will be very difficult to obtain the necessary information after the fact. 


Chad Mapp is LEED Consultant in Fort Collins

LEED Consultant in Fort Collins, Colorado

Chad Mapp is a LEED Consultant and Construction Manager with Sustainable Building Services, LLC as well as the chair of the USGBC Colorado Chapter Northern Branch. He has extensive experience sustainability and LEED consulting on numerous projects both in the public and private sector. To learn more about LEED consulting services visit www.SBSConsultingGroup.com.

USGBC CO Northern Branch sponsoring Green Drinks 6/26

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green drinks FC

Join us June 26th from 6pm to 8pm at RB+B Architects located at 315 E Mountain Ave for food, drinks and music while you learn about the activities of the local branch of USGBC CO, a volunteer fueled organization promoting sustainable planning, design, construction and operation of the built environment. Bring your business card and get entered to win great prizes!

Please sign up on the Meetup website: http://www.meetup.com/GreenDrinksFC/events/92336522/

Help to welcome the summer season at the June Green Drinks, hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council Colorado Chapter (USGBC Colorado).

The Details:

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Location: RB+B Architects, Inc. 315 E. Mountain Avenue #100, Fort Collins, CO(map)

Price: $5.00/per person

This year Green Drinks is the same day as Bike to Work Day! We are encouraging everyone to ride your bike to the event and to bring your own pint glass for maximum sustainability!

More than a Building: LEED and Native Plants

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nasa-sustainability-base-landscaping-537x366                                                  Nasa Sustainability Base, California

Evergreen                                          Evergreen Village, Indiana

There is more to a LEED building than just the physical structure, the surrounding site and landscape also play a role in certification.  New buildings must utilize native and/or adapted vegetation for a certain percentage of the site area.  Native and adapted vegetation is defined as plants that are indigenous to a locality…and are not considered invasive species are noxious weeds.

Over the past 40 years, the trend in landscape planting for new sites has been to use the same few plants over and over again.  Horticulturists identified shrubs and trees that could survive the harsh conditions of the heat island effect and limited root space typically found in a parking lot.  These lists were commonly referenced by Landscape Architects, site designers, and land use planners and quickly became standardized.  Before long, landscaping for new sites in California was identical to landscaping for new sites in Indiana.  Little diversity was found in the plantings, and typically the same 1 or 2 trees and shrubs were repeated throughout the site.

LEED opened the door to a new standard, and as site designers became aware of the benefits of native and adapted plants, built landscapes started to change.  Native and adapted plants use less water after establishment (reducing irrigation demand) and can withstand the climate extremes of the locality.  Using a diversity of species means plants will be more resistant to diseases, and reduce mortality.  Native plants also provide habitat and food for native species – even in highly urbanized areas bees, butterflies, and birds are drawn to their food sources.  Lastly, native and adapted plants can enhance the beauty of the site, and give building users a sense of place.  Regardless of your intent to use LEED certification, consider maximizing the use of native and adaptive plants on your next building project.

LEED EBOM Plans and Reports: In Our Experience

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reportsYour LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) kick off meeting is over, what now?  In our experience, the very next task your team should focus on is the gathering of plans and reports related to the operation of building and grounds.

Two main tasks of the LEED EBOM program are to tidy up and “green” the operational procedures of a building.  Sometimes staff are utilizing best management practices for operations, but lack a clearly articulated written procedure that is available and used by all members of the building management team.  As with all LEED projects, documentation is key, and the building management team will struggle with documentation during the performance period if the plans and reports are still being drafted.

After credit selection, task the building management team with combing the bookshelves and locating any written documentation on building operations.  The team should then review all existing documents and make notes clarifying any deviations implemented by staff that are not updated.  Often, existing plans can be revised to include the adjustments needed to green the building and meet the LEED requirements.  This will save time and reduce costs.   Plus the building management staff will have an easier time implementing any new procedures when they see the LEED consultant working with them and their existing procedures instead of drafting a completely new plan they are expected to follow.  Good luck!

Latest Concepts in LEED v4

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New Concepts for LEED v4

Where is LEED v4 taking the green building industry next? After a mostly restructuring upgrade to LEED 2009, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is pushing ahead with more innovative concepts in LEED v4 for making our built environment more sustainable; while continuing to fine-tune the more familiar LEED certification requirements.

The next evolution and transition to LEED v4 hasn’t been easy. After four public comment drafts, the USGBC elected to not launch the changes originally intended under LEED 2012. Instead they pushed for a planned member ballot in 2013 and renamed it to LEED v4. The USGBC is optimistic that the fifth comment period will be the last and the member ballot is scheduled for June 2013. If the ballot is approved, LEED v4 will become available sometime later in the summer or fall of 2013. LEED 2009 will remain available until June 2015.

LEED v4 is introducing a number of programs, terms, and concepts that are likely to be unfamiliar even to the most experienced LEED consultants and building industry professionals. For example, BUG ratings, LID infrastructure, Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx), and spatial daylight autonomy are a few of the new concepts in the LEED v4 certification system.

Check back often as we will summarize some of the new concepts in LEED v4 that will likely shape the green building industry for years to come.

Integrative Process

Sustainable Sites

  • Rainwater Management
  • Light Pollution Reduction

Energy & Atmosphere

  • Building Envelope Commissioning
  • Demand Response
  • Green Power and Carbon Offsets

Materials and Resources

  • Whole-Building Life-cycle assessment
  • environmental product declarations
  • Multi-attribute optimization
  • Corporate sustainability reporting
  • biobased raw materials
  • framework for responsible mining
  • chemicals of concern
    • The Health Product Declaration (HPD)
    • The GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals
    • Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
    • Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

Indoor environmental quality

  • measuring VOCs
  • spatial daylight autonomy
  • acoustic performance 


Saving Liquid Gold: Graywater Collection Systems

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Graywater systems reduce freshwater demand and CAN save building owners money.

Recently in Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper signed a graywater bill making it legal for homeowners and business to reuse graywater.  Graywater is untreated household wastewater that has not come into contact with sewage.  For example, used water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, clothes washers and laundry sinks.  This bill is smart planning – Colorado is expected to have a shortage of more than 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water by 2060.  The water savings potential of graywater systems is enormous.  Researcher Larry Roesner from the Urban Water Center estimated, “We can save about 50 percent of the indoor demand by using gray water for toilet flushing, and we can save about 30 percent of overall annual demand by gray-water reuse,” Roesner said. “A household of four could save 58,000 gallons a year using gray water, and a 40-home subdivision would save over 2 million gallons a year.”


USGBC’s LEED-NC rating system promotes the use of graywater technology by offering 5 Water Efficiency credits, for a total of 5 points, where the use of graywater is critical strategy for achieving water reduction.  Building owners in Colorado can now confidently install these systems without fear of legal complications.  This has significant cost-savings potential, as prices for water in the arid states is surging.  In Colorado, Developers are paying an 81% cost increase for an acre-foot over just two years ago.  Graywater systems make sense.

If you’re building a LEED building, SBS as a LEED consultant, can assist your team in the selection of Water Efficiency and other credits.  Each project is different, and we specialize in helping you plan, implement, and document the credits selected for the project.

Study links LEED certified buildings with reduced asthma rates

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LEED Certified buildings linked to health benefits

LEED® Certified buildings are often touted for minimal energy- and water-use, as well as for utilization of sustainable building materials. In addition, the superior indoor environmental quality and associated potential health benefits that LEED Certified buildings can provide are tremendous. Recently, Blue Sea Development and Mt. Sinai Hospital collaborated to study the health impact that living in a LEED Certified building had on tenants in The Eltona, a 63-unit multifamily building in the Melrose Commons neighborhood of the South Bronx.

The Eltona became the first affordable LEED Platinum Certified housing project in New York State. Formaldehyde-free and low VOC materials, compartmentalized ventilation systems with trickle vents, HEPA filters in commons areas, non-microbial flooring and no-combustion appliances featured prominently in the healthy design. The building is pet free, practices integrated pest management (IPM), uses green cleaning products and does not allow smoking on the premises. Each resident is provided with a one-hour educational walk through detailing the green and healthy features of their apartment and the building, along with a manual outlining all green practices.

The study surveyed tenants prior to occupancy and again after 6, 12 and 18 months of residency in the LEED building. Information was collected regarding asthma symptoms, prevalence of asthma attacks, frequency of hospital visits, and days missed at work and school. Other data such as presence of carpets, use of hypoallergenic mattress covers and pillow cases, knowledge of healthy pest control methods, avoidance of chemicals and identification of mold and mildew were also collected.

The study, consistent with other studies of this nature, showed significant improvement of asthma symptoms, a decrease in doctor visits and an increase in resident awareness of respiratory health. The exciting results of this study have ongoing influence in affordable housing design.