USGBC Fights to Improve Transparency of Recycled Content Claims

Recycled Content credits are now requiring the same level of reporting as Regional Material credits

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has the opportunity to continue to
drive industry specificity with the reinforcement of its Recycled Content documentation
clarification. The LEED Interpretation Ruling (LIR) from the USGBC (ID# 10246) released on
October 1, 2012 set the standard for Recycled Content claims and documentation for LEED
projects. This official LIR deemed national averages as unacceptable for LEED documentation, and is a major step toward total product transparency and industry integrity.

GreenCircle applauds the USGBC’s latest ruling, which addresses the issue of potential greenwashing by some manufacturers. As stated in the formal LIR, “An average recycled content claim, especially one that incorporates multiple product lines or places of manufacture, does not meet the credit intent and is not acceptable for LEED documentation.” This ruling demands product and plant specific recycled content evaluation and documentation. “Recycled content claims must be specific to the installed product (and therefore place of manufacture); regional or national claims do not meet credit requirements.”

Despite resistance by some manufacturers, this much needed USGBC clarification provides a transparent and clear system for LEED project teams pursuing the Recycled Content credit. This push toward total accountability for each product line and manufacturing facility is another step forward in promoting sustainable product development. Currently, when project teams request data for the Regional Material credits, they require plant and product specific information to calculate the amount of materials manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site. With the release of LIR, the Recycled Content credits are now requiring this same reporting level. Recycled content documented on a plant and product basis not only allows the most sustainable products to be selected within LEED projects, but will foster continual improvement in products and operations.

By issuing this LIR, the USGBC has established another line of defense against misleading
environmental claims. It is anticipated that the USGBC will remain steadfast in its position and
commitment to a sustainable future.

About GreenCircle Certified, LLC

GreenCircle Certified, LLC assures accountability by providing third-party certification of sustainable aspects of products and manufacturing operations. It establishes brand integrity and serves manufacturers, suppliers, regulators, and consumers by verifying that products or operations have been thoroughly assessed and their claims validated.

GreenCircle offers claim validation for carbon footprint reduction, closed loop product, life cycle assessment (LCA) optimized, recyclable material, recycled content, renewable energy use, renewable resource content, and sustainable manufacturing practices.