In 2019, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) unveiled its latest LEED guidelines, LEED v4.1. We sat down with Melissa Baker, USGBC senior vice president, to find out what that means for professional painting contractors.
What are the most relevant changes as they pertain to paint and coatings?
Regions and markets move at different paces and we want to be sure LEED can meet the needs of everyone in the green building community. That’s why LEED v4.1 is a series of upgrades that improves our standards, encourages the next level of leadership and makes our platform more user-friendly and collaborative.
For paints and coatings, material ingredients are a key component. LEED considers the chemical formulation and the impact on human and environmental health. The rating system considers products that are produced in an environmentally friendly manner.
In LEED v4.1, we introduced a request for an action plan from manufacturers to state how they intend to improve the ingredient’s mix of products. That plan is now rewarded in LEED and acknowledges products for taking steps to get on a more sustainable path. LEED v4.1 continues to ask for transparent disclosure (environmental product disclosure), but if ingredients aren’t sustainable yet, this action plan provides a proof of intent and a company’s commitment to create a better product.
In the Low-Emitting Materials Credit, the goal is to assess VOCs – the content, emissions implications. In LEED v4, we required 90 percent of all paints/coatings tested for emission compliance. People weren’t attempting that credit, so we lowered the threshold in LEED v4.1 to 75 percent in effort to encourage people to adopt these efforts. The point value for the credit hasn’t changed; it’s still a possible three points.
Will the changes have any effect on the certification process for pro painters?
LEED v4.1 will not change the certification process for painters, but the credit changes should make it easier for painters to find products that meet the LEED credits and therefore might make this work more achievable for painters.
What are the most important benefits of LEED for professional painting contractors?
We’re trying to encourage participation from all industries and professions, like those who manufacture and apply paints and coatings. By introducing changes in LEED v4.1 credits related to Indoor Environmental Quality (indoor air) and Materials and Resources, we can continue to emphasize not just the environmental improvements paints and coatings may create through changes in the supply chain, but also how those changes are putting the people in the buildings first.
Where can contractors learn more about LEED v4.1?
The best place to start learning more about LEED v4.1 is our website: new.usgbc.org/leed-v41.
Melissa Baker was interviewed by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of PPC magazine. Download a free reference guide to LEED-compliant coatings at the Sherwin-Williams contractor website.