U.S. coating manufacturers are taking a dim view of new mandates proposed for the country's foremost green building standards.
Specifically, the American Coatings Association is objecting to increased emissions testing and new chemical disclosure provisions in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v4 proposal.
In submitting its comments Dec. 10 on the fifth draft of the plan, "again, ACA expressed its concern with some of the new credit language in LEED v4," the group reported on its website.
ACA takes issue with the building product disclosure and optimization-material ingredients credit in LEED v4.
USGBC's latest proposed version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) voluntary construction standards has been marred by criticism throughout its development.
Established in 2000, LEED has become the leading environmental building standard throughout the U.S. and is required for new construction on all federal government buildings.
ACA Issues with LEED v4
In its comments, ACA takes issue with the new version's proposed "Low emitting interiors" credit and its requirement that 90 percent of architectural coatings (applied to walls, floors, and ceilings), adhesives, and sealants must undergo "chamber testing emissions evaluations."
The intent of the credit, which offers three possible points, is to "reduce concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health, productivity, and the environment," according to the USGBC.
Chemical Disclosure Credit Problematic
The coatings group also voiced concern about the LEED v4 awarding projects for "avoiding certain chemicals and disclosing product ingredients under the 'Building product disclosure and optimization—material ingredients' credit."
This credit offers one point for projects that contain products from manufacturers that publish a content inventory using Chemical Abstract Service registration numbers, the Health Product Declaration, Cradle to Cradle v2 Silver Level, or another USGBC-approved program, ACA noted.
The credit also rewards projects one point for installing at least 25 percent of its building materials that do not contain certain "chemicals of concern" according to the GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmark, Cradle to Cradle v2 certification, REACH (European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical Substances) criteria for substances of very high concern, or another USGBC-approved program.
The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v4 proposal, now in its fifth draft, has been the object of criticism. Coating makers are among those registering concern.
Building-materials manufacturers and organizations, including the ACA, have said European Union's REACH law represents a complex chemical risk-management program that would present major compliance issues for U.S. suppliers and other parties with ties to building construction and renovation. ACA has urged USGBC to completely eliminate the credit category.
However, supporters of LEED v4, say that there is no "homegrown alternative" to REACH and that it demonstrates a signifcant step forward for safer chemicals.
“I would have preferred a v4 reference [to] a U.S. standard, but there is no up-to-date, uniform and comprehensive U.S. standard/code identifying and addressing chemicals of concern,” said Howard Williams, LEED AP ID +C, Construction Specialties Inc.
Troubled Development for LEED v4
Voting on the LEED v4 green-building standard (previously known as LEED 2012) has been postponed until June 2013.
USGBC says it delayed its ballot vote in response to its members’ requests for more time to absorb the changes in the updated version of the rating system.
Before the postponement, however, many building-materials manufacturers and trade associations, including the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the ACA, were outspoken in voicing reservations about the standard.
Along with delaying the ballot until June 2013, USGBC announced it would keep the LEED 2009 registration open for at least three years, instead of immediately turning over to LEED v4 in 2013.
Beta testing of the LEED v4 began in November.
ACA Supports Underlying Goals
ACA said that it supported the underlying goals of the green building movement and engaged in the process to develop these rating systems and codes.
The association said it recognized the paint and coating industry’s role in green building as providing sustainable products that contribute to energy efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor air quality goals.
ACA and 31 other organizations are also members of the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, which supports and promotes green building codes, standards, rating systems and credits that are transparent, data driven, supported by science, and performance-based, according to the coalition.