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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.
Mat. Reuse
Recycled Content
Regional Mat.
Rap. Renewable
Certified Wood
Here's an example. Cotton insulation is typically post-industrial recycled material AND it's a rapidly renewable plant material. So LEED allows you to count the cost of that material towards both MRc4 (Recycled Content) and MRc6 (Rapidly Renewable). If it also happens to be manufactured locally, in LEED-CI you could claim it towards MRc5 (Regional Materials) as well. Three-for-one! But if you're using salvaged timbers to earn MRc3 (Resource Reuse), you cannot also claim them as recycled materials for MRc4. Sometimes a material can count towards one credit or another — you can choose which, but you can't claim it for both. Of course, the fact that you're allowed to count one material towards more than one credit only applies if the material actually has the characteristics that both credits require. FSC-certified wood counts for MRc7 and MRc5, but it only gets the latter point if it actually was harvested and manufactured (or, for LEED-CI, just manufactured) within a 500-mile radius of the project. Anyone have further examples or experiences that might help clarify this situation?

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1 I would have to agree with La posted by M Stadnyk on 10/21/2009 at 09:22 am

I would have to agree with Lawrence, as his points hit the bullseye. Doubledipping LEED...I thought this was a joke. This is exactly the kind of mentality that has driven us into financial and environmental jeopardy. Something for nothing. The goal should be a net zero effect on the environment as a result of human endeavour.

2 You guys raise some great iss posted by Nadav Malin on 10/21/2009 at 10:26 am

You guys raise some great issues. I tend to agree with you that cotton products shouldn't be allowed to earn points, at least not if its virgin cotton. There have been proposals in the LEED committees to restrict the Rapidly Renewable Materials credit to materials that have been certified under a sustainable management program, such as organic cotton--I think that those proposal will now gain some traction.

In the case of cotton insulation, however, we're talking about waste from blue-jean manufacturing. As long as some of us wear jeans there will be fabric waste, and this seems a pretty good use of it. So I wouldn't blame LEED for encouraging use of that.

Finally, on the question of double-dipping in general, we struggled with that many years during my time on the committee. On one hand, there is the simple accounting argument that each item should only be able to count once, or your baseline loses integrity. On the other hand, if something is beneficial in multiple ways it seems right to get more credit for using it than for something that only has one type of benefit. This, too, is something that may be worked out with a more sophisticated approach in a future version of LEED.

3 At least minus one (-1) point posted by Lawrence Tobe on 10/21/2009 at 04:45 am

At least minus one (-1) point for using cotton in the first place. My understanding it is an intense crop that requires a large amount of pesticides, water, monoculture crop with little if no seed diversity, etc. For example 1/3 Pound of agricultural chemicals are typically used in the production of a single cotton T-shirt. The United States is the second largest cotton producer, behind China. With that logic I bet a lot of this cotton comes from China, aweful large carbon trail. As an Architect and a USGBC member for many years, I find this collection of LEED points more disturbing by the day. Just spending five minutes I'd say this cotton use should be at least minus three (-3) points.

4 If you have FSC Certified Pur posted by Suresh Subramaniam on 10/18/2009 at 08:36 am

If you have FSC Certified Pure with recycled content, can you claim the full value of the FSC and also the recycled content?

5 Suresh, MRc7: Certified Wood posted by Tristan Roberts on 10/19/2009 at 04:15 pm

Suresh, MRc7: Certified Wood (MRc6 for CS projects) only counts "new" wood, so recycled-content wood, even if FSC-certified, does not contribute. It would, of course, contribute to MRc4.

6 Very good points on the downs posted by Tom Lent on 10/27/2010 at 03:35 pm

Very good points on the downside of agricultural renewables. Not only is the direct toxic chemical & water usage high and ecosystem diversity low in standard industrial ag as previously noted, but energy use and soil loss also can be significant. In Pharos, we've decided to call this out by only giving partial credit for agricultural renewables that aren't certified organic, with increasing weight to the highest certification levels (e.g., increased weight to an offset program, highest weight to full CoC organic).

7 There is an agricultural co-o posted by marc Chase on 10/22/2010 at 01:27 pm

There is an agricultural co-op in Texas that has 20 years experience growing organic cotton. My company makes various textiles exclusively from this U.S cotton. They need support. We are entirely chemical free on the agricultural side , and in the fabric finishing. These farmers need our support. My competitors are Chines, Indian, Pakistani and Turkish. All CO2 emitters all the way through even if their certification is as exhaustive as the Texas farmer co-op. So here we are cotton textiles from a farmer owned farmer run co-op> A 100 year old Mexican mill that is run by water power and is worker owned and worker operated. And our family textile business going on 30 years of effort to be clean.

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