Designers and architects have an opportunity to move forward a life cycle, multi-attribute approach to product selection during the design process.

Taking Credit! Update on LEED® v.4 Pilot Credit Influencing Material Selection

Jane Rohde - Feb 2017

Specifying products and meeting LEED® v.4 Materials and Resources credits includes an exciting opportunity for designers and architects to sign up to utilize a Pilot Credit that reflects hard work on the part of manufactures developing interior products as sustainable solutions.  The pilot credit is entitled Certified Multi-Attribute Products and Materials

LEED® v.4 & Multi-attribute Product Certifications

The Intent of the pilot credit is “To encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts.”  The requirements include products that have been certified utilizing ANSI/BIFMA, NSF/ANSI, Green Squared/ANSI, and UL Standards.  The product certifications have different levels of certification based upon meeting criteria that has been developed within a consensus based process.  

The credit requirements are to “Use products from manufacturers who have validated multiple environmental attributes relevant to the product via independent, consensus-based, third party certifications. The products must have earned and still maintain certification under the scheme. The manufacturer must publicly disclose the credit achievement results of the product on which the certification has been granted. Use at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed products in the project.”

Products are approved through 3rd party certifications based upon the standard being utilized.  Here is an example of the Pilot Credit language based upon product type and application:

NSF/ANSI 332 – 2015 Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings. 

  • Must achieve two point in credit 5.2.2 [of the NSF/ANSI 332 standard criteria] and
  • Silver certified products contribute 50% of the total product cost
  • Gold certified products contribute 75% of the total product cost
  • Platinum certified product contribute 100% of the total product cost 

This is a large milestone for product manufacturers and trade associations that have been working to promote product transparency and life cycle assessment through completing consensus-based standards for evaluation of products.  

ASHRAE 189.1 & Multi-attribute Product Certifications

The pilot credit is complimentary to the ASHRAE 189.1 - 2014 document that is currently an optional compliance path for the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  In chapter 9.0 The Building’s Impact on the Atmosphere, Materials, and Resources, the overall section Multiple-Attribute Product Declaration or Certification includes the following requirements: 

“A minimum of ten different products installed in the building project at the time of issuance of certificate of occupancy shall comply with one of the following subsections. Declarations, reports, and assessments shall be submitted to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and shall contain documentation of the critical peer review by an independent third party, results from the review, the reviewer’s name, company name, contact information, and date of the review or certification.” 

The sub-section Third-Party Multi-Attribute Certification includes the same certification standards that are referenced in the LEED v.4 Pilot Credit.  

“A material specific assessment shall be submitted for each product in accordance with one of the following standards, where applicable. The assessment shall be certified as meeting the minimum performance level specified in each standard.”  

In additional to the Third-party Multi-Attribute Certification compliance path for, both Industry-Wide and Product-Specific Environmental Product Declarations ( and respectively) are included as compliance paths that can be utilized in conjunction with Third-Party Multi-attribute Certification.

Note that the goal in 2018 is for the updated version of ASHRAE 189.1 to become the content for the IgCC, resulting in one compliance path for the IgCC versus 189.1 being an alternative path for compliance – basically providing one set of code requirements that are consistent.  It has also been discussed that the future of LEED certification could include compliance with IgCC / ASHRAE 189.1 as a baseline prerequisite minimum.  

Green Globes & Multi-attribute Certifications

Green Globes – New Construction (NC) in section 3.5 Material and Resources includes compliance with the same Multi-Attribute Certifications that are referenced in ASHRAE 189.1 and the Pilot Credit for LEED v.4. The provisions are included under Path B: Prescriptive Path for Building Core and Shell and Path B: Prescriptive Path for Interior Fit-outs.  

Green Globes poses their requirements as a question, because of their electronic questionnaire that is used as a proprietary interactive tool; the basis for their sustainable building and design evaluation and subsequent on-site assessment by a certified GBI Assessor. 

The language in section & includes the following criteria:

“Based upon the appropriate application and specification of comparable materials and products, what percentage of the products selected for the building core and shell (based upon cost) have:”

Third-party certifications that are based upon a multiple attribute standard(s) developed by a consensus based process from an approved standard development organization?”

In addition to the multiple attribute standards, Environmental Product Declarations (both Industry Wide and Brand Specific), Third-Party Verified Life Cycle Product Assessments, and Third-Party Sustainable Forestry Certifications are included within this section of Green Globes - NC.  The compliance paths are inclusive of one another versus being exclusionary; compliance includes “and/or” language; therefore, compliance could be achieved through some products that have completed EPDs and others that have achieved Third-party Certifications, as an example.    

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is currently completing the ANSI consensus process for update to their ANSI/GBI 01-2010 Standard.  This document has gone through a public comment period and also includes the Multi-Attribute Certifications as part of the Prescriptive Path for building products in Section 10. Materials and Resources. 

The following is a complete listing of the multiple attribute standards that are included in the LEED v.4 Pilot Credit, ASHRAE 189.1 – 2014, and Green Globes – New Construction:  

Multi-Attribute Product Certification Standards

  • ANSI/BIFMA e3-2014 Furniture Sustainability Standard
  • NSF/ANSI 140-2015 Sustainability Assessment for Carpet
  • NSF/ANSI 332-2015 Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings
  • NSF/ANSI 336-2011 Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric
  • NSF/ANSI 342-2014 Sustainability Assessment for Wallcoverings
  • NSF/ANSI 347_2012 Sustainability Assessment for Single Ply Roofing Membranes
  • ANSI A128.1-2011 Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Green Squared Certification
  • UL 100-2012 Standard for Sustainability for Gypsum Boards and Panels
  • UL 102-2009 Standard for Sustainability for Door Leafs


Overall, designers and architects have an opportunity to move forward a life cycle, multi-attribute approach to product selection during the design process.  No longer is evaluating single attributes the only option, which does not necessarily provide the best sustainable product solution.  Trade associations and manufacturers have come together using a consensus process for developing sustainability assessment standards that provide transparency and LCA information on their manufacturing processes resulting in improved, third party certified products.  This is an exciting time to be an important part of the future of sustainability!