Construction WasteLEED v4LEED v4.1

LEED v4.1 Construction Waste Management Updates

This is part five in Green Badger’s series of deep dives into the changes for LEED v4.1 and how they may affect project teams moving forward. For more resources, visit the other posts in our series bellow:

Part One: Introducing the LEED v4.1 Update

Part Two: Environmental Product Declarations, Option 1

Part Three: Sourcing of Raw Materials and Material Ingredient Reporting

Part Four: Low Emitting Materials


A couple of notes to start:
  1. The following information contains Green Badger’s opinions and interpretations
  2. If you haven’t looked through the v4.1 beta guide from USGBC – download it now! That’s where the real meat and potatoes of the change details are actually listed.
  3. As always with USGBC, these may change at any time as v4.1 goes through the pilot.

Construction Waste Management

Recycling gets more rewarding! Besides that warm feeling you get from doing the right thing, LEED v4.1 now makes it much easier to earn points when you are doing what almost every urban project does – use commingled recycling.

What’s different?

The changes for v4.1 are pretty straightforward (unlike most of the other credits we’ve covered). Here’s what’s different.

Material stream requirements are lowered for projects incorporating commingled recycling – Note – the commingled facility must be a certified commingling recycling facility by the Recycling Certification Institute. Instead of needing to have 3 different material streams for 1 point, or 4 for 2 points (of which commingled counts as one stream) now you need:’

  • 50% reduction using commingled AND one additional material stream
  • 75% reduction using commingled AND two additional material streams

So, if you’re using commingled recycling (that is certified by RCI), and have a concrete dumpster (pretty common), you’re able to earn 1 point easily, or if you throw a steel dumpster out there with the concrete dumpster, boom – two points.

Therefore, you still need all the regular hoops to jump through for commingled – letters from the facility showing the average, or how they are weighing your loads specifically, but it drops the need to have too many other dumpsters on site as well as your commingled one. UPDATE – as a few readers have pointed out, there aren’t that many facilities actually certified by RCI – in fact, we count less than 20 nation-wide. IF you have a certified facility, lucky you! If not, you’re likely still looking at the same number of material streams.

Option 2 is actually achievable. Under 4.0, you could earn 2 points by having less than 2.5 lbs/square foot of TOTAL waste. This included demo waste, construction waste AND anything you recycled. This was next to impossible to achieve for projects that weren’t core and shell warehouses.

For v4.1, this has been updated in two ways. First – demolition waste is pulled out of the total. You’ll have to track demo waste separately AND divert at least 75% of it from the landfill. THEN, you’ll have to generate 7.5 lbs/square foot of total construction waste, which is actually possible. Note that Core and Shell and Warehouse projects must keep this below the original 2.5 lb/sf to comply.

Badger Summary

Construction waste got much easier for teams incorporating commingled recycling (which is a lot, based on our personal observations), though the facility needs to be certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (which isn’t that many). Additionally, Option 2 is also a viable path, though you’ll never know if you’re going to achieve it until the project is pretty much complete (you could argue that about Option 1, but you still have a pretty good idea from a percentage diverted perspective.)

2 thoughts on “LEED v4.1 Construction Waste Management Updates

  1. Doesn’t the reduction in material streams you mention above only apply to projects sending their commingled to an RCI certified facility? There aren’t a lot of these (only one in MA) and many don’t have very high rates so to date the changes in v 4.1 haven’t helped any of our projects.

    1. Indeed! We left out that pretty important detail, but have since revised the post to reflect the need for RCI certification and the fact we count less than 20 facilities on their list of certified facilities…

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