Explaining the Rating Tool Maze: A Product Focus Part 2

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
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This article is the second in a two part series that looks at the various rating tools in the market for commercial, residential and infrastructure projects and how products are dealt with in each.

EnviroDevelopment

Developed by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), EnviroDevelopment has over 100 major projects under certification including projects like Stockland’s 15,000-lot greenfield North Shore residential community in Townsville, Leighton’s Green Square commercial office tower project in Brisbane, numerous apartment buildings and several Australian Defence Housing Projects. It awards credits under different “Elements”: Ecosystems, Waste, Energy, Materials, Water and Community. The Material Element has two alternative compliance pathways. The initial one focusses on products and materials with preferred, typically with reused, salvaged or recycled content but also considers sustainably certified timber products, PVC replacement and third-party certified products.

The Alternative Compliance path involves Lifecycle assessment (LCA) of relevant products and details of quantities and uses within the project, and requires a minimum 20 per cent life cycle benefit compared to a comparable benchmark product. This is similar approach to that used by the Global GreenTagCertTM third party certification scheme. The Emissions Element also considers low emissions products in painted, adhesives and sealants, flooring and engineered wood.

Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) Tool

The Infrastructure Sustainability Consortium Australia (ISCA) launched the IS tool in 2012 to cover infrastructure projects and associated works, including buildings. There is currently over $15 billion worth of projects under certification including the NW Sydney Rail Link, M4 WestConnex project and many others. The Materials section credits require LCA assessment or third party certification and applies to all raw, structural and building materials and interiors finishes for included structures such as rail stations, associated retail precincts and offices.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Developed by the US Green Building Council in 1998, LEED is the pre-eminent green building tool globally being in over 140 countries with 6.5 million square metres under certification in the South Pacific region alone. It is used in Australia predominantly by US multinationals such as Google and Microsoft, who are looking to report to their US based constituents. It uses a structure very similar to Green Star. Until 2013, LEED had fairly lax material credits. Manufacturers/Design Teams could either declare relevance or provide testing. In 2014, LEED V4 changed that, with Building Life Cycle Reduction and Building Product Disclosure and Optimisation credits that also include credits for products with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Disclosure of Material Ingredients and Sourcing of Raw Materials credits. LEED for the first time is also recognising third party product certification schemes.

Living Building Challenge (LBC)

Probably the world’s most advanced and challenging tool, LBC was developed and is operated by the International Living Futures Institute (ILFI) in the US. There is also an Australian Chapter of ILFI the Living Futures Institute of Australia (LFIA).

LBC focusses on a regenerative, net positive future for buildings so that they may become part of the solution rather than an ongoing but lesser part of the problem as is unfortunately the case with most green buildings. LBC V3 has ‘Petal’ sections: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. The Materials Petal has a “Red List” of banned substances, looks at Embodied Carbon Footprint (offset whole project/product LCA impacts), Responsible Industry (Declare, transparent ingredients), Living Economy Sourcing (local purchasing) and Net Positive Waste (whole of life recycling). There are at least four major projects in Australia that meet LBC standards.

Hopefully, this guide has simplified the rating tool landscape. Interestingly, one common theme throughout all the tools is the use of LCA in product assessment and the use of third party certification.

See the first part of the article here.

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