June 3, 2024

How do LEED v5 and AIA Materials Pledge Overlap?

Lauren Richardson - Green Badger Image
Lauren Richardson, Sustainability Manager at Green Badger
Green Badger CEO Tommy Linstroth, author of the Ultimate Guide to LEED v4 and v4.1 Construction
Tommy Linstroth, CEO and Founder of Green Badger

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Materials Pledge are both initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability in the built environment, but they operate in slightly different spheres. LEED v5 and the pledge can support one another in a few ways. But first, let’s review what they are individually.

Simplifying LEED v5

LEED v5 (Version 5) is the latest iteration of the LEED rating system developed by the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council). It provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating, and certifying green buildings. LEED v5 emphasizes various aspects of sustainability, including energy efficiency, water conservation, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

The AIA Materials Pledge

On the other hand, the AIA Materials Pledge is an initiative by the AIA that focuses specifically on encouraging architects and designers to make informed decisions about materials selection in their projects. It encourages professionals to consider the environmental and health impacts of materials throughout the entire lifecycle, from extraction to disposal.

The AIA Materials Pledge identifies 5 focus areas for sustainable products: Human Health, Ecosystem Health, Climate Health, Social Health, and Equity & Circular Economy. We provide a more in depth breakdown of the pledge in this blog. It uses a number of product certifications and standards to demonstrate compliance (for example a product with an Environmental Product Declaration contributes to Ecosystem Health). 

LEED v5 and the AIA Materials Pledge Overlap in the Built Environment

The Overlaps

The draft version of LEED v5 features and Optimized Product credit and also uses the same 5 focus areas, and also includes a variety of eco-labels to determine compliance. Every eco-label recognized in the Optimized Product credit overlays with the AIA Materials Pledge.

The AIA Materials Pledge recognizes some standards that are company-specific whereas LEED focuses only on product-specific attributes. Company-specific standards are similar to Just labels or  B-corps whereas product-specific attributes have documentation like EPDs, HPDs, C2C certificates, etc.

If you are selecting products that are helping earn the LEED v5 Optimized Product points, they will also completely overlap with the AIA Materials Pledge. There are a number of eco-labels and standards recognized by the pledge that do not contribute to the Optimized Product credit. LEED v5 is currently in draft form and may change before the final version is released in 2025

The Differences

Although LEED v5 and the AIA Materials Pledge both focus on sustainable materials, they do not directly correlate. LEED focuses on a number of sustainability features whereas the Materials Pledge really only addresses one LEED credit.

However, projects pursuing LEED certification may incorporate principles from the AIA Materials Pledge as part of their overall sustainability strategy. For example, architects and designers seeking LEED certification may prioritize the use of low-impact materials and products with transparency regarding their environmental and health attributes, which aligns with the goals of the pledge.

In summary, the overlaps between LEED v5 and the AIA Materials Pledge primarily revolve around the shared goal of promoting sustainable practices in the built environment, particularly concerning materials selection and environmental impact.

Read more about how Green Badger supports the AIA Materials Pledge here

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