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Double Dipping for LEED Materials Credits

Posted October 13, 2009 3:19 PM by Nadav Malin
Related Categories: LEED, Q&A
When you can and when you cannot count one material as contributing to more than one credit in the Materials and Resources category of LEED has confused me for years. Even the LEED Reference Guide doesn't lay it out clearly. So, after sorting it out for LEEDuser, I thought laying it out in a table might help.
Multiple MR Points for the Same Material: When is it allowed?
Building Reuse
* Exception: Waste left over from use of these materials and diverted from the landfill can count towards MRc2 as well.
** Reused materials can count as waste diversion if the material was salvaged onsite and is not considered building reuse for MRc1.


Posted July 10, 2009 12:21 AM by Michael Wentz
Related Categories: Q&A
I'm starting a fun new weekly feature on Twitter, #fridayrefresh. Every Friday I will suggest a topic that needs a better solution than the current status quo such as, "building codes don't keep up with green building #fridayrefresh" and "k-cups go straight in the trash #fridayrefresh". In response, please share your thoughts, ideas, solutions, links, and horror stories. All you need is a Twitter account, if you don't have one you can sign up at Then follow me, username wentzm. To respond to my posts, just tweet "@wentzm [your message] #fridayrefresh". To follow the conversation, even if you are not on twitter, go to

New to Green Building? Try GBA.

Posted June 22, 2009 8:30 PM by Brian Fending
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Books & Media, Case Studies, Miscellania, Product Talk, Q&A, The Industry

Recently, I broke one of my long-standing rules and blogged about something BuildingGreen-related at my own blog. My Costanzian fears were indeed warranted, and I've been egged on to cross-post it to the Live blog. Here she is, warts and all: my unvarnished opinion on the very best parts of the BuildingGreen product

I don't often blog about worky stuff here, but decided this week that my "Worlds Will Collide!" fears are probably completely unwarranted. Besides, I'm working on some cool stuff these days. And finally, when my wife asks me, "What have you been doing?," when I come to bed at an obscene hour, I have an acceptable answer: "Changing the world, baby. Changing the world." Launches

Posted January 20, 2009 12:37 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Op-Ed, Product Talk, Q&A, The Industry
As promised, here it is. is dedicated to providing the most useful, accurate, and complete information about designing, building, and remodeling energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthy homes. A product of BuildingGreen, LLC, a provider of information on sustainable building for more than 23 years, also draws on the resources and expertise of partner Taunton Press, the publisher of Fine Homebuilding. Most of us who bring you (Our Team) are former builders, remodelers, and architects. Because of that we know the need for a single resource where design and construction professionals and knowledgeable homeowners can get the full complement of the information — and insight — they need to design, build, and remodel green.

Fuel-Cost Calculator

Posted July 1, 2008 10:52 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Books & Media, Q&A
Excerpts from a BuildingGreen press release that's being distributed today:
Some heating fuels that used to be quite affordable, such as heating oil, have risen in price dramatically, making competing energy sources such as electricity relatively less expensive. In parts of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, even the most expensive form of electric heat — electric-resistance baseboard heat — is now less expensive than fuel oil. The challenge in comparing fuel costs is the fact that most fuels are purchased by volume or weight, rather than energy content. It's hard to compare gallons of fuel oil with hundreds of cubic-feet (ccf) of natural gas and kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Adding to the complexity, there are big differences in how efficiently energy sources are converted into heat and how efficiently that heat is distributed throughout a building.
To accurately compare the costs of different energy sources, we need to look at the price per delivered unit of heat.

Do we want to clean up another country's scrap tire problem?

Posted February 26, 2008 2:57 PM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Nature & Nurture, Product Talk, Q&A

The title of this post is taken from a question we received about the source of recycled rubber used for a parking-bumper and speed-bump manufacturer. It motivated me to do some digging to get a better understanding of the scrap tire industry. As it turns out, it's actually kind of fascinating. The following is unverified single-pass research, and any thoughts, additions, or corrections are welcome.

The Relative Environmental Merits of Steel Cabinets

Posted February 7, 2008 11:35 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Behind the Scenes, Product Talk, Q&A
The GreenSpec review team has been debating the relative environmental merits of steel cabinets as compared to other alternatives. (GreenSpec is reserved for the very top green products — and within that top few percent, those products that rise above the rest.) Generally speaking, the up-side is that steel cabinets don't support mold; are low- or zero-VOC (depending on finish, principally); are long-lasting; almost always have some amount of recycled content; and have good end-of-life recyclability. All of these things can also be true of cabinets made from wood and other materials. In special purpose applications such as sterile and particle-free environments, metal may be the most appropriate solution. Thin steel — including things like metal studs and roofing — is typically produced in basic oxygen furnaces, which are more polluting than the electric arc furnaces used for heavy steel. And while heavy steel typically has a very high percentage of recycled content, light steel only contains up to 30% recycled content (i.e., 70% or more virgin steel). How does this stack up against sustainably harvested wood or ag-fiber? Steel cabinets are sometimes fitted with non-steel faces, such as wood or thermofoil-laminated MDF, which alters the equation. Is the wood from certified sources?

Product Certifications and Ratings Systems... it's all so gooey

Posted January 2, 2008 9:23 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: LEED, Product Talk, Q&A, The Industry
The GreenSpec team is regularly contacted by manufacturers and their marketers asking how to get products "certified as green." The question itself reveals one of two things: that they either haven't done any work yet to understand what it is they're actually asking... or that they have. In the first case, good on 'em for looking into it. (Although getting the question as often as we do can be frustrating, it's a big compliment to be recognized as the go-to people.) In the second case, the overall state of certifications and ratings systems is revealed as a commingled muck that's as confusing to manufacturers as it is to everyone else. Environmental Building News to the rescue. The current feature, "Behind the Logos: Understanding Green Product Certifications," identifies over two dozen of the most active of these programs and provides brief synopses — a great general reference, and a launching pad for additional research.

Recycled Decking Manufacturers Launch Virgin PVC Options

Posted November 3, 2007 6:59 AM by Mark Piepkorn
Related Categories: Product Talk, Q&A
In the BuildingGreen Suite we have a Discussions feature on just about every page that allows members to respond to content with their comments and questions. There was a brief exchange the other day in response to a November 2007 Environmental Building News piece titled "Recycled Decking Manufacturers Launch Virgin PVC Options." Excerpts from that article:
In a series of developments that may signal trouble for the composite decking industry, two industry leaders, TimberTech and Trex Company, appear to be hedging their bets by introducing new product lines made of virgin PVC... Although both Trex and TimberTech cite consumer benefits for their new PVC products, the Healthy Building Network's Tom Lent has a different view. "I consider these moves a disaster environmentally," he said, adding that the health and environmental effects of the PVC life cycle should also be considered when looking at these decking products.

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