How LEED is rewarding project teams for employing strategies that improve the lives of all people

The US Green Building Council has announced a new set of LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) credits that reward strategies that improve the lives of all people.

At last week’s Greenbuild conference in New Orleans, the US Green Building Council made headway towards aligning “green” with “good” as it announced a new set of LEED Social Equity Pilot Credits.

The set of three pilot credits rewards project teams for employing strategies that improve the lives of all people, especially the most vulnerable.

The set of three pilot credits rewards project teams for employing strategies that improve the lives of all people, especially the most vulnerable, into the way they design, build, and operate all aspects of their projects.

  • Pilot credit 1: Social equity within the project team. This incentivizes companies within the project team to pay fair wages, provide workforce development training, and publicly report on their corporate sustainability performance.
  • Pilot credit 2: Social equity within the community. This incentivizes project teams to actively identify and respond to inequities faced by people of the local community.
  • Pilot credit 3: Social equity within the supply chain. This incentivizes project teams to ask manufacturers and suppliers for a code of conduct that ensures basic human rights for their workers.

The public reaction to the new pilot credits has been very positive, as demonstrated by the presentation of a national award, the Malcom Lewis IMPACT award, to the Social Equity Working Group. Named in memory of a dedicated USGBC volunteer, recipients of the IMPACT award are recognized for their high-impact, volunteer-driven work that supports a USGBC initiative.

Three members of the Social Equity Working Group, Susan Kaplan, Joel-Ann Todd, and Heather Rosenberg, explained the new pilot credits at an education session on the last day of Greenbuild 2014. Practitioners attending the education session asked several questions, particularly related to how the supply chain credit (Pilot credit 3) relates to existing credits in LEED, as well as existing efforts by building product manufacturers.

“Much of the language in the [social equity within the] supply chain pilot credit was modelled after the supply chain language in the BIFMA [furniture sustainability] standard”, explained Joel-Ann Todd, who chaired the Supply Chain Subgroup.

Todd added: “There is some overlap between the social equity within the supply chain pilot credit and the materials and resources (MR) building product disclosure and optimization credits. The social equity within the supply chain pilot credit however, goes beyond materials and covers the entire supply chain, including the construction phase.”

PE International's Steve Baer and Jennifer Clipsham contributed their expertise to the Supply Chain Subgroup. Baer sees the pilot credits as new opportunity stating, “Manufacturers of building products can now contribute an additional LEED credit beyond those offered in the Materials and Resources section. This is a great opportunity for material producers to demonstrate the sustainability of their operations, as well as their products.”

PE International’s Steve Baer advised the Supply Chain Subgroup of the Social Equity Working Group. He is seen here with the Working Group co-chairs, Joel-Ann Todd (center) and Susan Kaplan (right).