Prerequisites/Mandatory Measures- 3
Minimum Points – 2
Maximum Points - 16

This category aims to eliminate waste and to encourage the use of materials that are environmentally friendly and produced near the home.

This Category is divided into 3 sub-categories, each containing prerequisites, and consequently the summary below will discuss together the prerequisites and possible additional points that may be earned in each sub-category.

Material Efficient Framing (maximum 5 points) prerequisites require that the waste factor (materials ordered in excess of the estimated needed amount) for framing materials be less than 10%. One point can be earned if, prior to construction, a detailed framing plan with architectural details is produced showing the specific location, spacing and sizes of all framing materials in the walls, floors, roof and ceiling (if different from the roof). An additional point may be earned if a detailed cut list and lumber order is produced that corresponds directly to the framing plans. Also, up to 3 additional points can be earned if certain specified materials-savings design features (such as pre-cut framing packages, specified wider spacing of studs and joists etc.) are built into the plans. Alternatively to the potential for additional points stated above, using off-site fabrication of wall, roof and floor components, or a modular prefabricated construction, earns 4 points.

Environmentally Preferable Products (maximum 8 points). This category promotes an increased demand for environmentally friendly products or building components that are extracted, processed and manufactured within the region. The prerequisite is that all wood product suppliers must be given a notice (i) that your preference is to use tropical wood (defined as grown in a country that lies between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn) only if it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-certified), and (ii) that you want a list of the country of manufacture of each product supplied and a list of all FSC-certified wood that the vendor is able to supply. If tropical wood is intentionally used it must be FSC-certified, however reused or reclaimed materials are exempt.

Up to 8 points can be earned, 0.5 points for each building component material – such as exterior and interior walls, floor, foundation, ceilings, millwork, landscape materials, roof, counters, cabinets, adhesive and sealants, window framing, insulation, sheathing – that meet the following criteria (0.5 points for each criteria per component): the component a) is made up of an environmentally preferable material by at least 90% by weight or volume, or uses a specific environmentally preferable material denoted in the guidelines for each component (for example framing be FSC-certified or reclaimed, cabinets be of recycled content or FSC-certified or reclaimed AND composite materials must not contain urea formaldehyde resins, etc.), and/or b) uses products that meet the low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions specifications set out in the Guidelines, and/or c) uses products that were extracted, processed and manufactured within 500 miles of the home, which reduces the embedded transportation energy associated with construction.

Waste Management (maximum 3 points). This category requires the reduction of the amount of waste generated to below the industry norm. As a prerequisite there must be planning for construction waste disposal that identifies all local options for recycling and reusing all major constituents of the project (including cardboard and household recyclables). You must also document the rate (by weight and volume) at which objects are diverted from landfills and trash separately for each of the demolition phase and the building phase. Up to 3 points can be earned by either reducing construction waste or diverting waste by levels exceeding the prerequisite amounts. 

What does this mean for brownstone and row-house renovation: The Material Efficient Framing spec to reduce the waste factor to under 10% is admirable but may require that you spend a little more on drawings and planning. Criteria contemplating pre-cut packages and framing may be more applicable to a new-build where you are not dealing with the ubiquitous a non-square nature of a creeky old house.

The guidelines dealing with Environmentally Preferable Products can be easily incorporated into your renovation decision-making process and we highly recommend that you do so because it will result in less harm to the natural environment, healthier indoor air quality and lower embodied energy in the products you use.

Reducing demolition waste is also a very important goal for urban renovations, however the Waste Management criteria require a lot of statistical documentation which complicates the process.  We note that applying the LEED® for Homes guidelines may actually increase the amount of demolition debris for a given project because it requires that all existing floors and walls be torn out to the joists and studs. Our Article on Demolition Debris in an Urban Environment can help guide you to make smart, eco-minded decisions about what not to tear out, what to reuse and where to send your discarded stuff so that others may reuse or recycle it, including a survey of New York City salvage yards and other resources.