LEED Materials and Resources

This section of the new v3.0 LEED Scorecard has also changed in point breakdown from the previous version, gaining 1 point. Many of the other sections' point values were doubled, but Materials and Resources was regarded as a section with a one-time impact on the building, compared to the design and efficiency. This decision makes relative sense in the scheme of things.

Salvaged Brick
Fig 1: Brick Salvaged for Reuse (Photo: Smoooochie)

Materials and Resources, simply put, are the components of the building. This includes wood framing members, finish materials like cabinets, windows and doors, and other materials making up the structure and finishes of the building. Essentially CSI Divisions 2 - 10 are eligible towards each of the MR credits and pre-requisites, while finishes are applicable based on an overall cost towards MR credits 2 - 6, and MEPF are eligible towards MRc2 only, based on weight or volume.

Memorizing each of the MR credits and pre-requisites aren't as easy, as each one has "re" in the title or description, making it easy to confuse these credits. I strongly suggest you work hard to tell these each apart and memorize them well.


Breakdown of Each Credit in Materials and Resources - LEED v3.0

  • MRp1 Storage and Collection of Recyclables

This pre-requisite is a no-brainer for the owner, if he is in control of the waste disposal for the building. Essentially, the end user of the building will need to show intent to recycle once the building is in operation. On the drawings, show recycle storage bins, areas for recycle bins, chutes, back of house storage, etc.

This credit is the owner's commitment to come up with an Owner's Recycling Plan, and the architect's responsibility to design a space that caters to recycling.

Possible Points: None, required pre-req

  • MRc1 Building Reuse

This credit has two strategies, including structural and non-structural reuse. This means that the project should try to reuse a majority of the existing portions of the building, if adding on to an existing structure. This would be impossible to achieve for a greenfield project building brand new from the ground up.

To address credit MRc1.1, we will first discuss reuse of existing walls, floors and roof by area. This is important because the impact of roofing, steel and concrete waste is significant. Reuse of the building structure can significantly reduce the impact of the new construction's waste production.

This reduction is a calculation of the area of products being reused.

Possible Points:

  • 1 Point - Maintain 55% of Existing Walls, Floors and Roof
  • 2 Points - Maintain 75% of Existing Walls, Floors and Roof
  • 3 Points - Maintain 95% of Existing Walls, Floors and Roof

Basically, you are going to reuse as much of the building as possible, removing hazardous and inefficient systems.

Now, to address credit MRc1.2, we will cover reuse of 50% of Interior Non-Structural elements. If parts of the existing building are acceptable for refurbishment and reuse, then this can also significantly reduce the footprint of the new construction.

Here are some points to remember for this credit. The following items can be included in the area calculation for interior non-structural building reuse:

  1. Shelves
  2. Doors
  3. Metal Deck

Pop Quiz: Do you think windows and MEPF materials should be included in the reuse credit for non-structural building materials?

Answer: No. The USGBC wants to see projects replacing these systems, as they can have a larger positive impact on the footprint by reducing operational costs, and energy use.

Possible Points: 1 Point is possible for Credit 1.2

Do not confuse this credit with MRc3, which is materials reuse. This credit relates to reuse of significant building components. Last, remember that if a building addition is greater than 2x the original footprint, then this project will not be eligible for the credit.

  • MRc2 Construction Waste Recycling

This credit is based on recycling of wastes created during construction of the project. All trades are applicable towards this credit, which is based on weight or volume of waste diverted to be recycled.

For this credit, the general contractor performing the work is responsible to prove that this credit was achieved.

Possible Points:

  • 1 Point - 50% Waste Recycled by weight or volume
  • 2 Points - 75% Waste Recycled by weight or volume
  • MRc3 Materials Reuse

Here, the material reuse credit is tied closely to the Building Reuse credit, but just realize that there is a difference. Think that this will be on a small scale, while the building reuse is on a huge scale and represents maintaining existing conditions.

For this credit, we're looking at reuse of 5% or 10% of the building materials by cost. Be very careful not to double dip between the two credits. Remember, if your project will include items in this credit, they must remain consistent through credits 3 - 7.

Here are some examples of products that would qualify for this credit:

  1. Beams
  2. Posts
  3. Flooring
  4. Paneling
  5. Doors & Frames
  6. Decorative Metal Panels

This calculation will be carried out by adding up the cost of the refurbished or salvaged products and compare to the total material cost, or the default 45% material costs. The ratio of salvaged to total project cost will tell whether your project will achieve 5% or 10% (1 or 2 points) towards the credit.

Table 1: Salvaged/ Reused Materials Calculations
Salvaged/ Reused Material Description Source of Product Value/ Product Cost ($)
Salvaged Doors used as Countertops XYZ Salvage, Inc. $30,000
Metal Panels as Architectural facade Pro Sheet Metal $150,000
Reused Brick Veneer Fortay Brick Dealers, Co. $20,000
SUBTOTAL SALVAGED/ REUSED MATERIALS $200,000
TOTAL CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS COST - OR 45% DEFAULT $2,000,000
PERCENTAGE OF SALVAGED OR REUSED MATERIALS 10%

So this table shows us the three aspects we need to know when calculating the percentages of salvaged or reused materials:

  1. Description of Material and how it was reused or salvaged
  2. Vendor or source of material
  3. Cost or Value of material

Possible Points: 1 - 2 Points

  • MRc4 Recycled Content

The purpose for this credit is to increase demand for items that are recycled to reduce the quantity of virgin materials that are processed.

Essentially, recycled content for a project will be an important calculation to remember for the LEED AP Exam. This credit can give either 1 or 2 points to the project, depending on whether 10% or 20% of the project's materials are recycled, where the % is based on cost.

Recycled Content Value = ...
(% post-consumer recycled content * material cost) + 0.5 * (% pre-consumer recycled content * mat. cost)

Post-consumer material is waste generated by households or commercial, industrial and institutional facilities.

Pre-consumer is also known as post-industrial and is material diverted from the waste stream during manufacturing process. Fly Ash concrete additive is a great example of a pre-consumer, post-industrial material.

Let's turn this into a real calculation: if your concrete mix takes 2.5 lbs of fly ash for each 1,000 lbs of concrete, then the % of recycled content is 2.5%. Then multiply this 2.5% by the total concrete cost on the project. If you're building a concrete parking garage, this would generate a large value. This gives the total recycled content value.

Now, the next calculation will determine what percentage of materials on site have been recycled, based on cost.

Percent Recycled Content = \frac{Total Recycled Content Value}{Total Materials Cost}

So, here, like many of the other MR credits, you are going to use either the default material cost, by multiplying the total construction cost (hard cost for Divisions 2 - 10 only) by 0.45, or an actual tally of actual material costs. The purpose of the default cost is to make the process of calculating the credit more simple, as it can be challenging to actually tally the material costs of a project, separating from equipment, labor, overhead, etc.

Again, MEPFs are not eligible for this credit.

Possible Points: 10% gives 1 point, and 20% gives 2 points

  • MRc5 Regional Materials

This credit is meant to reduce the impact of transportation of materials to the project site. The percentage of materials that are extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.

To achieve this credit, take a map, draw a circle, with radius 500 miles around the project site, and that's where you should aim to get your materials. This actually will take a lot of coordination during buyout, because oftentimes, local products aren't the cheapest, so a bidder will use material costs from the regular manufacturer from Mexico to bid the job. Then, if you later ask them to purchase local products, this could kill the profit margin for that subcontractor.

See the equation below for the calculation of % of local materials:

Percent Local Material = \frac{Total Cost of Local Materials}{Total Materials Cost}

Remember, we're going to use the same value for Total Materials Cost for credits MRc2-7.

Se the table below for an example of what information you would need to provide to prove your project earned this credit. Remember, 1 Point is provided for 10% local materials, and 2 Points are provided for 20% local materials.

Table 1: Calculation of Percentage of Local Materials
Product Manufacturer Distance Between Project & Manufacturer Distance Between Project & Harvest Product Cost Value Qualifying as Regional Backup Documentation
Shrubbery Abel's Arbor 3 miles 3 miles $13,500 $13,500 Contractor Submittal
Lumber Mabel's Mill 125 miles 238 miles $205,500 $205,500 Contractor Submittal
Drywall Emerald Products 45 miles 306 miles $31,500 $31,500 Manufacturer Letter
Concrete Aggregate Seymore's Cement 15 miles 15 miles $55,000 $55,000 Contractor Submittal
Wood Doors & Frames Gateway Doors 395 miles 222 miles $22,000 $0 Contractor Submittal
Total Cost of Regional Materials $305,000
Total Materials Cost (Div 2 - 10) $1,906,250
Percent Regional Materials 16%
Total Points Earned 1 Point

Possible Points: 1 Point for 10% local and 2 Points for 20% local materials

  • MRc6 Rapidly Renewable

Rapidly Renewable Resources credit can be achieved by specifying products in the design that will be rapidly renewable. Examples of rapidly renewables are:

  1. Bamboo Floors
  2. Cotton Batt Insulation
  3. Linoleum Floors
  4. Sunflower Seed Board Panels!!!
  5. Wheatboard Millwork
  6. Wool Carpet (Sheep anyone?)
  7. Cork Floors (Wine anyone?)

This credit, as discussed in MRc3 - 7, relies on our default value for total material costs. If your project uses the 45% of total costs, or the tally method, this must remain the same throughout all credits MRc3 - 7. Just saying it again, to get it hammered into your memory bank.

The calculation will follow this format:

Percent of Rapidly Renewable Materials = \frac{Total Cost of Rapidly Renewable Materials}{Total Materials Cost}

The goal is to achieve 2.5% of the total material costs from rapidly renewable resources to achieve one point.

Possible Points: 1 Point

  • MRc7 Certified Wood

The Certified Wood credit is relatively simple in theory; the project will aim to use 50% of the cost of Wood-based products that are FSC Certified. Memorize this term:

FSC: Forest Stewardship Certified or Council.

Essentially, when you go to pick up your plywood, or timber, there will be documentation that the wood is FSC-Certified. I have a friend who works at a lumber store. He says, in California, a lot of the wood has to live up to these standards anyways, but the mills will often charge extra for the stamp.

Wood finishes, and the items listed below can go towards the credit (just make sure these items are all used to calculate total material cost in the other credits MRc3 - 7):

  1. Wood Floors
  2. Sub-Floor Blocking
  3. Structural Wood Framing
  4. Wood Doors
  5. Wood Casework
  6. Crown Moulding
  7. Toe boards
  8. Temporary Wood (if this isn't FSC-Certified, it could hurt the goal to achieve the credit. Temporary Wood should only be included in the calculation if it can help the project achieve the credit.)

Rented wood or formwork will not count towards this credit.

The calculation for this credit can be based on weight or cost to determine if the credit can be achieved. In some cases, this will produce very different results. This could be a problem on the test, so be sure to understand how you would go about evaluating this condition.

  • Your project has 100 wood cabinets, composite FSC-certified wood drawers, shelves and components with birch veneer.
  • Composite FSC portions are 50 lbs per piece and cost $100 per piece
  • Birch Veneer is 2 lbs per piece and cost $10 per piece

We'll first look at FSC Contribution by Weight:

Total Wood Weight: 100 Cabinets * (50 lbs Composite FSC + 2 lbs Veneer) Total Wood Weight: 5,200 lbs

FSC Wood Weight: 100 Cabinets * 50 lbs FSC Wood Weight: 5,000 lbs

This gives an FSC contribution of 96%!!!

Now we'll look at FSC Contribution by Cost:

Total Wood Cost: 100 Cabinets * ($100 Composite FSC + $10 Veneer) Total Wood Cost: $11,000

FSC Wood Cost: 100 Cabinets * $100 FSC Wood Cost: $10,000

This gives an FSC contribution of just 91%, so comparison by weight would be the better option in this scenario.

The goal is to achieve 50% of the total wood cost or weight from FSC sources to achieve one point.

Possible Points: 1 Point


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