Achieving LEED v4 disclosure and optimization credits

Apoorv Vij and Neha Koul
October 30, 2017

The intent of the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credits (BPDO) in LEED v4 is to encourage adoption of products that disclose and ultimately optimize full life-cycle impacts, including impacts of raw material sourcing and effects on human health.

There are three distinct credits, which collectively are grouped under BPDO. These are the Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) credit, the Sourcing of Raw Materials (Sourcing) credit and the Material Ingredients (Material Ingredients) credit. In addition to these, the Low-Emitting Materials credit under Indoor Environmental Quality has also undergone revision and finds significant overlaps in product categories with the BPDO credits.

Earlier this year, the GBCI India team decided to set up a new office space in Noida, and achieving points in these credits was one of the key goals for the team. The new GBCI space is currently pursuing LEED v4 certification. We wanted to share the approach we are following, which we hope can guide other project teams in their pursuit of these credits.


The first step for the team was to identify parts of the credits to target. We decided to target achieving at least one point in each of the three BPDO credits. For the EPD and Material Ingredients credits, we targeted Option 1, and for the Sourcing credit, we attempted Option 2.

While the EPD and Material Ingredients credits are new, the requirements of Option 2 of Sourcing are attributes like recycled content, extended producer responsibility, FSC certification, and so on, which have been prevalent in the market for quite some time. Therefore, it was relatively easy to find products compliant with these requirements.

For EPD and Material Ingredients, products require third-party certificates, and such information is generally available on both the manufacturer's website and on that of program operators (in the case of EPD) and certifications (in the case of HPD, C2C, BIFMA, etc.). Based on the credit requirements, the aim of the team was to locate at least 20 different products from at least five manufacturers for each of these two credit options.

For the EPD credit, the team scanned databases of various program operators and databases of various program operators like environdec, UL, Institut Bauen und Umwelt eV., and other databases like Giga, to identify those manufacturers whose products have EPDs and are available in India. The documentation for each individual product was thoroughly reviewed to ensure it complied with the requirements mentioned in the credit language. At this stage, a list of products with Product Specific Type III EPDs that were available in India began to take shape.

Next, we searched for products compliant with the certifications mentioned in the Material Ingredients credit on databases like Health Product Declaration Collaborative, Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Registry, Cradle to Cradle Material Health Certificate Registry, BIFMA Level by Ecomedes, etc. Additionally, since the requirements of the Low-Emitting Materials credit are also revised, databases for certifications mentioned in the credit were also searched (Greenguard, SCS Indoor Air Advantage, BIFMA Level by Ecomedes, etc.) to find compliant products. A key strategy was to search for products from our EPD shortlist on these databases and vice versa. This ensured that we had several products that contributed to each of the three BPDO credits and the Low-Emitting Materials credit.

The process was an iterative one and involved scanning databases for relevant certifications or service providers, mapping manufacturers and products featured in various databases, sorting products with multiple certifications and finally working out multiple permutations of products to achieve the LEED v4 requirement. Since the material list underwent modifications based on design consideration, we started documentation of material inventory very early in the design phase.

Figure: The material selection process adopted by the GBCI India team toward achieving LEED V4 MR BPDO credits.

To share more information on these requirements, Greenbuild India will be hosting a session exclusively on Materials ("Demystifying Material Megatrends in LEED v4 and WELL"), where GBCI India staff and experts from UL and Thinkstep will provide further insights into material certifications and related processes.

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