For one of its new offices, Gensler Architects chose Flextuft recycled rubber tile from Flexco, which also contributed to LEED points for the project. (Photo courtesy Flexco.)


LEED 2009, which the U.S. Green Building Council unveiled earlier this year, is the latest version of the widely used Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building ratings system. The revised system aims to create consistency by consolidating the various credits and prerequisites formerly spread across the different LEED versions for commercial projects. Additionally, all of the LEED commercial rating systems have been aligned to a 100-point scale. Bonus points that take into consideration the region where a project is built have also been added.

“These changes make LEED more consistent in the way it approaches environmental and safety concerns,” says Ashley Katz, USGBC spokeswoman.

Currently, LEED 2009 covers the New Construction, Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance, Commercial Interiors, Schools, and Core & Shell programs. In the coming months, LEED for Retail and LEED for Healthcare, which at press time were still being piloted, will join the LEED 2009 family.

Dave Kitts, vp environment for Mannington Mills, says his company has been part of the USGBC for 10 years, “before LEED even existed.” He notes that while LEED 2009 is a good starting place for “better consistency among the various LEED systems,” there is still room for improvement.

“The future renditions of LEED, and the bookshelf approach (offering credits in a broad array of general categories) will further evolve LEED in a good direction,” he says. “Eventually there won’t be overly prescriptive LEED systems to which buildings will have to conform,” he says.

Shaw Industries was also involved in LEED 2009, submitting comments on several credits in the Materials and Indoor Environmental Quality areas, says Richard Ramirez, Shaw’s vp, corporate sustainability & environmental affairs.

“The revised standard does achieve the goal of increased consistency between systems, and it places more weight or significance on energy which is consistent with Shaw’s position of evaluating and optimizing our environmental/carbon footprint,” he says. “There are only a few changes (in LEED 2009) that impact flooring.”

For example, the Indoor Environmental Quality section was revised to include more types of flooring. “We believe adding hard surface to the same standard as soft surface is prudent,” he notes.

Sister companies Flexco and Roppe also helped make recommendations to updating LEED 2009. “LEED offers a number of distinct advantages for architects and builders, as well as product manufacturers,” says Melissa Quick, marketing coordinator for Flexco. The system provides “an objective way to assess the performance of a category of product, permits apples-to-apples comparison of products and helps to ensure manufacturers have the technical data to backup their claims,” she says.

The lobby of Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford, British Columbia, was a LEED-certified project that was completed using MAPEI products. (Photo courtesy MAPEI.)

Dee Dee Brickner, marketing coordinator for Roppe, says that consolidating the credits of the different LEED systems into LEED 2009 will make the process easier to manage.

“Another point that is helpful is that some of the vagueness has been removed with the CIR (credit interpretation rulings),” she says. “Although it is revised frequently to meet the ever changing building standards or environmental areas of concern, it is still the most concise program that we can look to for guidance when developing new or improving our existing products,” she notes.

Dr. Ephraim Senbetta, who heads MAPEI’s LEED-related initiatives as director of quality management and environment health and safety, said the revision to LEED 2009 is largely an improvement. “Ideally, (in future revisions) we would want to see tile installation contribute to more points,” he notes. “LEED is very important, and MAPEI is committed to doing everything it can to help its customers succeed in achieving LEED points.”

Dal-Tile’s Bob Hurt, director of environmental, health & safety for the Mohawk sister company, says he feels the point system still needs some tweaking. He notes the group increased the value of certain credits, but left others with a significant environmental impact alone.

Ideally, he would like to see an increase in the values of several credits, including Brownfield Redevelopment; Site Development: Protect or Restore Habitat; Construction Waste Management: Divert 50 Percent from Disposal; as well as Materials Reuse, Recycled Content, Regional Materials, Certified Wood and Low-Emitting Materials.

Aside from LEED 2009, Katz notes the USGBC is piloting two LEED ratings systems set to be released later this year. The systems, LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development, will not be part of the LEED 2009 program, she says.

Certification systems measure green flooring

While LEED is perhaps the most visible green ratings system for the construction industry, it is by no means the only one. Here is a look at several green systems designed to test flooring products for good environmental properties.

GREENGUARD: “GREENGUARD certification offers a third-party, industry independent assurance that the flooring has been tested and found to meet the most stringent health-based emission standard,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. “This brings on-going assurance to building owners, contractors, specifiers and consumers that they are selecting and installing products contributing to a healthy indoor environment.” For more information, visit www.greenguard.org.

Green Label Plus: The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label and Green Label Plus programs test carpet, cushions and adhesives for good indoor air quality. The Green Label Plus program “meets and exceeds the Collaborative for High Performance Schools testing protocols,” a consortium of public agencies and California utilities that offer one of the most stringent set of air quality criteria in the nation, CRI says. For more information, visit the Commerical Customers section of www.carpet-rug.org and click on the CRI Green Label Plus link.

FloorScore: Developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and Scientific Certification Systems, the FloorScore program tests and certifies products based on California indoor air quality standards. Flooring products include vinyl, linoleum, laminate, wood, ceramic, rubber, wall base and sundries. For more information, visit www.rfci.com/index.htm and click on the FloorScore link.

Responsible Procurement Program: The National Wood Flooring Association’s Responsible Procurement Program is designed to “harness the power of the U.S. wood flooring industry to recognize and promote environmentally and socially responsible forest management in the regions that supply the timber on which we all depend,” the NWFA says. The program is broken up into three tiers that measure different levels of “social and environmental responsibility and performance,” the group noted. For more information, visit www.woodfloors.org/member/RPP.aspx.