March 6, 2023

BPDO Optimization 101

Lauren Breckenridge, LEED AP
Sustainability Associate at Green Badger

There are credits in LEED that are no brainers, and then are credits that seem like no one can achieve.

Up until the latest updates to LEED v4.1, the tough to achieve credits were the EPD Optimization and the Material Ingredient Optimization credits that fell under the Building Product and Disclosure Optimization (BPDO)  group. Fortunately, the updates to LEED v4.1 now made these formerly hard to achieve points viable options for project teams. Let’s take a look and see what is needed to actually earn points and strategies of where to start.

What are BPDO optimization credits?

Credits that are earned by evaluating a product’s impact on the environment through its life cycle and embodied carbon are BPDO Optimization credits. Not all products are valued the same, so follow along as we break down each product type and how to achieve the EPD and MIR Optimization credit.

Both the Environmental Product Declarations and the Material Ingredient credits have a second option that can earn 1 LEED point apiece. To earn one point, you need to use at least 5 permanently installed products that comply with one of the criteria we’ll discuss shortly from 3 different manufacturers.

EPD – Environmental Product Declaration Optimization

To earn this credit, one of the first things to look for is a Life Cycle Impact Reduction Plan (LCA). An LCA plan from  the manufacturer has to provide a publicly available action plan to mitigate or reduce life cycle impacts. It must be critically-reviewed and include the following components:

  1. Description of the LCA used by the manufacturer to complete the analysis (pretty straightforward, would already be found in the EPD).
  2. Identification of the largest life cycle impact areas identified in the analysis and a narrative description of the impact areas targeted for reduction in the action plan.
  3. Description of specific steps anticipated in implementation of the action plan, with dates and a timeline for implementation.
  4. This is just a plan for reducing the product’s impact down the road – to get 50% credit (or ½ a product), the manufacture needs to develop a plan to reduce impact, but it doesn’t actually need to be implemented. You’ve got to crawl before you walk.

Then, to take it a step further, there are products that put the LCA plan into action. This comes in the form of an EPD with multi-attribute optimization.

  1. Global Warming Potential (GWP- aka greenhouse gasses)
  2. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer (CFC-11e)
  3. Acidification of land and water sources in moles (H+ or kg SO2e)
  4. Eutrophication
  5. Formation of tropospheric ozone (kg NOx, kg O3 or kg ethene)
  6. Depletion of nonrenewable energy sources in MJ (CML)/depletion of fossil fuels

The bigger the reductions in these categories, the more the Optimized product contributes towards earning the LEED point (more on that later)

MIR- Material Ingredient Reporting Optimization

The first step in earning this product credit is to do a Material Ingredient and Optimization Action Plan showing at least 1,000 ppm material inventory, which is pretty much any LEED compliant HPD. 

Next, we will look at Advanced Inventory & Assessment at .01% by 100 ppm and no GreenScreen LT-1 Hazards or GHS Category 1 hazards. Another option is the product could have also been evaluated at Inventory to at least 0.01% by weight 100 ppm and at least 75% by weight of product is assessed using GreenScreen. The remaining 25% by weight of product has been inventoried and the GreenScreen assessment is publicly available.

Material Ingredient Optimization is another option to pursue to achieve this credit. This means the product needs to be inventoried at least 0.01% by weight 100 ppm and at least 95% by of the product is assessed using GreenScreen. There can be no BM-1 hazards in the product and the remaining 5% that was not evaluated needs to be inventoried and screened using the GreenScreen List Translator and no GreenScreen LT-1 hazards are allowed.

Earning EPD Optimization

Products can contribute partially, fully or up to doubly depending on their level of performance in EPD optimization. The table below summarizes the product contribution options.

What to look for on your EPDs and MIR

Topics that you will need 

  1. Embodied Carbon/LCA Action Plan – 0.5
  2. Embodied Carbon & Global Warming Reductions <10% – 1
  3. Embodied Carbon & Global Warming Reductions > 10% – 1.5
  4. Embodied Carbon 20% reduction & Global Warming 5% – 2

Embodied Carbon/LCA Action Plan – 0.5

Embodied Carbon/LCA Action Plan is one way to earn ½ product towards this credit. This is just a plan that states the impact that the product has on the environment in terms of global warming potential. Here’s an example of one Sherwin Williams compiled (Intro section only, entire plan is 3-4 pages).

Embodied Carbon & Global Warming Reductions <10% – 1

A product valued at 1 the EPD optimization summary will show a reduction of any value in just the Global Warming Potential category. Below is an example of this:

Embodied Carbon & Global Warming Reductions > 10% – 1.5

For a product to be valued at 1 ½ the EPD optimization summary needs to show that there is a negative reduction that is greater than or equal to -10% in the Global Warming Potential category (GWP). While it had a reduction of 83%, it didn’t have reductions in other categories, and doesn’t contribute to the max  of 2. Example below:

Embodied Carbon 20% reduction & Global Warming 5% – 2

For a product to be valued at 2 the EPD will need to show a GWP reduct of at least 20% and a reduction in two of the other environmental impact reduction categories. The two additional categories need to show a reduction of 5% or greater. See example below.

Earning MIR Optimization

Products can contribute partially, fully or up to doubly, depending on their level of performance in MIR optimization. The table below summarizes the product contribution options.

What to look for on your MIR

  1. Material Ingredient Screening and Optimization Action Plan – 0.5
  2. Advanced Inventory & Assessment – 1.0
  3. Material Ingredient Optimization  – 1.5

Material Ingredient Reporting – Material Ingredient Optimization

For a product to be valued at ½ this is where the material ingredient screen and optimization action plan comes into play. Typically this is a report prepared by the manufacturer. See example below:

To earn points using the Advanced Inventory & Assessment or the Material Ingredient Optimization, Green Badger recommends using third-party certifications to reduce your need to get a degree in chemistry. Certifications that the industry are already familiar with that contribute include Cradle to Cradle, Material Health Certificates and Declare labels.

Advanced Inventory and Assessment products are valued at 1, and  will typically come in the form of a Cradle to Cradle or Material Health Certificate of Bronze or higher or Declare labels designated as Red List Free or LBC Red List Free that are third party verified.

Material Ingredient Optimization products are valued at 1 ½ are documented with a Cradle to Cradle or Material Health Certificate that is Silver or higher, or using  a Living Product Challenge certified product that has achieved Living Product Challenge certified products that achieve Imperative 09: Transparent Material Health. See example below:

Products that can contribute

In order to obtain the points for EPD and MIR Optimization credit you need to specify a minimum of  5 contributing products from 3 separate manufacturers. Now it is important to note every product is going 

to be weighed the same. Below is a breakdown of some products and what they are valued at.

How to find these products

Green Badger has two great tools that can help you and your team earn specify these products. The first tool using our advanced search feature on Green Badger and second is downloading the To make things easier, Green Badger has compiled the  EPD and MIR optimization ebook to identify products that we know of that comply with either an LCA action plan or actual EPD optimization. We update it quarterly to stay on top of industry trends – you can access that guide here. 

If you’re a Green Badger software user, it is easy to find these products by doing an advanced search of our database.

The advanced search can be access through the add button and you select advanced search on.

Option 2 for both the EPD and Ingredient Reporting credits within the BPDO side of LEED used to be options we could never recommend. Now we see teams earning these points without even thinking they were trying to achieve them – a result of both a much lower threshold set by USGBC in the LEED v4.1 update and more manufacturers getting on board with demonstrating advanced transparency into their projects. We hope you can use the information above to pick up a point or two on your next LEED project!

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