Materials and resources that go into the construction process are enormous and they generate massive amounts of waste. About 40 percent of the total waste stream in the United States is from construction and demolition. There is no doubt that there will be a demand for materials and resources during construction but how we go about acquiring those resources can greatly reduce the impact of building? Recycling is the foundation of this category; from using recycled material, to recycling project waste, to using existing buildings and resources.
The LEED system requires a building to facilitate space for all occupants to recycle. Employing this prerequisite in your building is easy and educating building occupants on waste management will help everyone understand the demand to make your building green. This category addresses the importance of extending a building’s life cycle, by reusing as much of a building a possible and by redirecting resources back to manufacturers and appropriate sites. The materials and resources section offers 13 possible points in 7 different credits. Using high percentages of existing buildings (around 95 percent of the existing structure) and diverting large amounts (around 75 percent) of construction waste to reusable sites will earn you maximum points in this credit section. Emphasis is also placed on using recycled material and content inside the building, assuming it is not finite raw material – those materials should be rapidly renewable, including compliant certified wood. Another great feature of this credit is the stress put on using local materials. Materials extracted, processed, and manufactured within 500 miles will earn you credit points.
Following this LEED section closely is important for your business but also your community. You can help stimulate your local economy by buying local recycled products, which is good for local commerce and increases the demand for all companies to recycle and consider the environment. Check out the previous posts on other sections of the LEED system.