Green building isn’t a trend, it’s here to stay and will only become more common. In this changing landscape, architects, building owners, contractors, and distributors are finding themselves navigating an ocean of terminology and learning new ways to earn LEED points. This page provides a bird’s eye view of green building in layman’s terms and how it relates to steel doors and frames.
- LEED 2009 vs. LEED v4
- Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
- Product Category Rules (PCR)
- Greenguard (UL)
- Health Product Declarations
- Indoor Air Quality Certification
While doors and hardware typically account for less than 2% of a building project, thoughtfully selected door openings can make significant contributions for design professionals working toward LEED 4 points or a net zero environment. They can also bring additional energy savings for the building owner.
It’s not only important – and sometimes mandatory – to build green, but also to effectively document it to contribute toward the appropriate credits. Working with manufacturers who are experienced with LEED projects will make your job much easier.
SDI member manufacturers have a deep understanding of LEED and can provide the necessary certification contribution documents. Their steel doors and frames are highly recyclable and US manufacturers have a much smaller footprint than those abroad. Consider contacting an SDI manufacturer early in the design phase of your next project with steel doors and frames so they can help you maximize your points.
All LEED projects registered after October 2016 must comply with the more stringent LEED v4 rather than LEED 2009. The LEED v4 rating system has been expanded to include 21 more types of projects such as hospitality, school renovations, and retail renovations, to name a few. Some of the most significant changes were made to the Building Design & Construction (BD+C) category because more emphasis is now placed on the overall environmental footprint. The major changes to the BD+C category are summarized below.
- NEW! Location and Transportation — This new category was created to encourage the use of sites with development constraints. Projects can earn credit for building on a LEED Neighborhood Development site or “high priority site.” Other updates encourage the availability of bicycle facilities, a reduced parking footprint, and reserved parking spaces for green vehicles.
- Materials and Resources — This category has some of the biggest changes in LEED v4. The requirements in this section encourage the use of sustainable building materials and reducing waste on site to support a “life-cycle approach.” (Note: This is the where SDI members can help architects contribute.)
- Sustainable Sites — This category encourages strategies to minimize the impact on ecosystems. LEED v4 adds a credit for a “Site Assessment,” which encourages assessing a site’s topography, hydrology, climate, vegetation, soils, and human use before starting the design.
- Water Efficiency — The Water Efficiency section addresses indoor use, outdoor use, specialized uses and metering of water. Reducing outdoor water use is no longer optional in LEED v4. Each project must have meters measuring whole-building water use.
- Energy and Atmosphere — Similar to the Water Efficiency section, this category now requires each project to be capable of measuring whole-building energy use. Projects must now track the total building energy consumption monthly for five years and report the measurements back to the USGBC. For companies looking to improve energy efficiency, an energy assessment can identify common inefficiencies and help achieve LEED certification.
This is only a high level summary of some of the key differences between LEED 2009 and LEED v4. For more specific information, please visit the USGBC website.
In 2016, the Steel Door Institute worked with Underwriters Laboratories Environment in the development of the first Product Category Rules (PCR) for steel doors and frames. The Product Category Rules enable manufacturers to conduct Life Cycle Assessments and develop an Environmental Product Declaration to help building projects comply with LEED v4.
If this still sounds like a foreign language, the definitions below should help clear things up.
Product Category Rules (PCR)
PCRs define the requirements for Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declarations of a certain product category. They are essential in the development of environmental declarations because they allow you to compare like products.
Life Cycle Assessments (LCA)
LCAs assess the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life – from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Design professionals use this process to help critique their products.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)
An EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. There are different types of EPDs and they can be industry wide as well as product specific.
Note: Having an EPD for a product does not imply that the declared product is environmentally superior to alternatives. It is simply a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.
An updated LEED standard that includes more market sectors, a stronger emphasis on indoor environmental quality and human health, and an increased focus on how buildings need to demonstrate their performance through energy and water metering. New categories include climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community, and natural resources.
The Steel Door Institute has completed the first industry-wide, LEED-compliant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for steel doors. This was achieved by undergoing a “cradle-to-gate” assessment for two products: heavy duty flush panel steel doors made with a polystyrene core and 5-3/4” 16-gauge steel prime painted door frames.
What does that mean? That these common types of steel doors and frames can contribute toward credit in the LEED v4 Materials and Resources category, “Building Product Disclosures and Optimization”.
Environmental Product Declaration documentation:
For more information, see our recent article in Door & Hardware Magazine.
September 2020 – UL Environment is proud to announce publication of UL 10010-27, PCR Part B for Commercial Steel Doors and Steel Frame EPD Requirements. These Product Category Rules (PCR) are available for download at the UL Standards Sale Site.
PCRs define the rules and requirements for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) within a certain product category. A PCR follows internationally established standards and makes it easier to consistently and transparently evaluate, communicate, and compare products’ environmental impacts.
For more information about PCRs and EPDs, please contact UL.PCR@ul.com. You can also find products with EPDs in SPOT, UL’s sustainable product database.
Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have found that airborne chemicals commonly known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common in indoor environments and that their levels may be two to a thousand times higher than outdoors. VOCs are used to manufacture and maintain building materials, interior furnishing, cleaning products and even personal care products.
The UL GREENGUARD Certification Program established test methods and emission limits for these product groups:
- Building materials and furnishings
- Electronic equipment
- Cleaning and maintenance products
- Medical devices for breathing gas pathways
There are two tiers of certification available – GREENGUARD Certification and GREENGUARD Gold Certification. All certified products are subject to a review of the manufacturing process and routine testing to help ensure minimal impact on the indoor environment. Many industry leading manufacturers have certified their hollow metal door and frame products to GREENGUARD and/or GREENGUARD Gold standards. These certifications also contribute to green building programs like LEED and the WELL Building Standard. All documentation can be found in the UL SPOT database: https://spot.ul.com/
Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are a standardized reporting tool for the health hazards associated with the materials in a product. HPDs include the substance threshold, the materials and substances contained in a product, the associated hazards of each material or substance, and the VOC content. HPDs can either be self-published or third-party verified. The HPD Public Repository is the authoritative source for published HPDs. When a manufacturer publishes an HPD using the HPD Builder, it is automatically uploaded to the Repository as a PDF file. Once uploaded, an HPD is considered to be a “Public HPD.” Design professionals can search uploaded PDFs and they are available to be downloaded by users. A simple search capability is available to assist in finding HPDs by Manufacturer, Product Name, CSI Classification, or HPD version.
Intertek’s VOC Indoor Air Quality Certification independently tests and certifies products to regulated sustainability initiatives including, but not limited to, BIFMA e3, California CDPH, LEED, and WELL.
Intertek’s Clean Air certification program utilizes an expert team of chemists and ISO 17025 accredited labs to test products for VOC emission compliance. Intertek’s proprietary program provides two classes of certification – Clean Air SILVER and Clean Air GOLD.
Benefits of Indoor Air Quality Certification:
- Measure the environmental impact of product VOC emissions for Indoor Air Quality
- Opportunity to benchmark product components to industry standards
- Compliance to LEED
- Compliance to ANSI/ BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard credit 7.6 Low Emitting Furniture
- Promote environmentally-friendly sustainable products in the marketplace
- Environmental Product Declaration website – information on Environmental Product Declarations and Product Category Rules
- Health Product Declaration Collaboration – standard specification for product contents and health information
- International Living Futures Institute – an NGO, the umbrella organization for the Living Building Challenge
- Mindful Materials – web-based product sustainability information tool
- SCS Global Services – a program operator
- UL SPOT– web-based product sustainability information tool
- U.S. Green Building Council – LEED information
- Clean Air – Intertek’s VOC testing certification program
- GreenCircle Certified – third-party certifier
- GREENGUARD Certification Program – UL’s VOC testing certification program
- Green Leaf Mark – Intertek’s certification program
- Living Building Challenge – more stringent than LEED 4, this certification program focuses on creating regenerative buildings (beyond net zero)