Producers frequently must provide documentation for LEED Materials and Resources (MR) Credit 5 (Regional Materials) of the LEED 2009 rating system. But there is still confusion among producers about exactly how to determine the distances required to be provided. In fact, this is the most common question that I get from concrete producers related to LEED credit requirements: “How far back must I go in my supply chain when providing distances for regional materials?” Here is how the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has interpreted this question.

MR5 credit language

MR Credit 5 from the 2009 version of LEED, under Option 1, states that “all building materials or products that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered, as well as manufactured within a 500 mile (800 kilometer) radius of the project site” (emphasis added) may contribute to this credit.

Although not a stand-alone credit in LEED v4, in Building Product and Disclosure Optimization credits, it states “…products sourced (extracted, manufactured, and purchased) within 100 miles (160 km) of the project site…” (emphasis added). Note that which LEED version applies depends on the version that the project is registered under. Projects do not have to register under v4 until October 2016, but they can choose to do so now.

Certainly there’s no confusion in interpreting these credits related to a product’s manufacturing site: A concrete producer knows where its plant is located. But producers are frequently questioned on the distances to the extraction, harvesting, or recovery sites.

USGBC interpretation

When interpreting LEED credits, a useful tool is the LEED Addenda database. This is where the USGBC posts corrections, rulings, and interpretations as requested by project teams. Quite frequently, if you have a question about a LEED credit, others have had the same question and there may be answers in the Addenda.

In July 2010, there was a reference guide correction to the MR Credit 5 in the Addenda database (ID#100000380). The change resulted in the guide stating, “Extraction, harvest or recovery point refers to the location of raw materials prior to manufacturing of the building material or product that is furnished and installed in the project building.”

This reference guide correction clarifies that the extraction, harvest, or recovery point is the location of the raw materials just prior to arriving at the manufacturing facility (the ready-mix plant). In other words, LEED requires that you go back only one level in your supply chain. So, if you buy aggregate from the quarry, the extraction, harvest, or recovery point is the quarry. But if you purchase from an intermediate distributor, then it is that location. The same goes for cement.

Related to this, the USGBC made an interpretation on the documentation required for MR Credit 5, noting that “a statement on the manufacturer’s letterhead indicating that the point of extraction, harvest, recovery or manufacture is within 500 miles of the LEED project site, will also be accepted as part of the LEED documentation and credit submittals.”

If questioned by someone related to extraction, harvesting, or recovery point distances, concrete producers now know how to correctly determine distances and what documentation to provide.