August 8, 2021

Top 10 LEED Products for Earning BPDO Credits in v4.1

Tommy Linstroth Founder and CEO at Green Badger LEED Fellow

by Tommy Linstroth
Founder and CEO at Green Badger
LEED Fellow

Don’t have time to do research to find LEED products by yourself? We get it.

Just do what everyone else is doing to earn the environmental product declaration, sourcing of raw materials, and material ingredient credits in LEED v4 and v4.1 and you’ll be set!

At Green Badger, we talk to a lot of project teams. I mean, A LOT. Every. Single. Day. Normally they are just checking in on us to make sure we aren’t in the loony bin from dealing with so many LEED questions, addendum updates, and laughable GBCI review comments. But more often than not, they’ve got the same question – how can we achieve the building product disclosure and optimization credits on our LEED v4 project?

The first answer is always the same – first of all, opt into LEED v4.1 for those credits, because it makes a world of difference. You can read all about the why’s and how’s here if you’re interested. 

The second answer… we’ll get to that in a second. First, let me tell you HOW we got to the second answer. Did I mention we work with a lot of project teams? Ah, yes… So we went a looked at what all those great project teams are using to earn these very same credits. 500 of them, to be exact – 500 LEED v4/4.1 projects that are using Green Badger to automate LEED documentation and record what specific products are being used to earn these BPDO credits. We aggregated that anonymous data, and that provides us with an answer to the second question: where should teams look for products, and what are the most popular products that contribute to earning the credits?

We’ll start with the first – we parsed all this product data to find out the 30 most popular products on LEED projects, and low and behold, 93% of those products fell into 7 distinct categories of products – categories that are chock full of EPDs, HPDs, take-back programs, recycled content and everything else you’d need to score points. 

The categories every LEED project team should check for LEED products are:

  1. Insulation
  2. Flooring
  3. Gypsum board
  4. Ceiling tiles/grid
  5. Paints
  6. Doors and Hardware
  7. Interior metal studs
Product categories for the top LEED products used on Green Badger products
Listed under each product category are the manufacturers whose products will help you earn LEED BPDO credits. The numbers represent from #1-30 how often these products have been used by Green Badger project teams to earn these construction materials credits. Watch our 30 Most Popular Products to Earn v4.1 BPDO Credits on-demand webinar for a full review.

Why? Besides I already mentioned that 93% of the top 30 products fell into one of those categories, there are a few more great reasons. 

First, a project that doesn’t have some type of product from those categories as part of its scope is rarer than an albino jackalope. You’re going to always have some metal stud wall, filled with insulation, lined in gypsum board which is covered with paint. You’ll walk past it on a few different types of flooring while admiring the lovely ceilings as you pass through the door to the breakroom. 

Point 1: These products are everywhere in construction. You’re not counting on the cross-laminated timber from Norway milled by elves and finished with nice thoughts and rainbows that also has an EPD to earn the point. You can go to Home Depot and find some of these products!

Point 2: You don’t have to sole-source from Norwegian elves! Every product category listed has MULTIPLE manufacturers and dozens of product lines. It’s not just Type X gypsum board, it’s fire-rated, mold-resistant, high-impact, tile backer board – you get it. Flooring has carpet, VCT, ceramic tile, cove base, rubber stair treads, and linoleum amongst others. Paints – each sheen counts as a separate product, so you’ve got primers, flats, eggshells, and semi-glosses, all before you get into DTM, dryfalls, and all the other coatings you use. You get the point – lots and lots of options, and thanks to good old market pressures, if one manufacturer went out and got EPDS and HPDs, you can bet their competitors did too.

So there you have it – how can you achieve these credits? First, opt into LEED v4.1. Second, dive into your insulation, gypsum board, ceiling tiles, flooring, paints, doors and hardware, and interior metal studs and you’ll be set, or at least well on your way. Will you find EPDs and HPDs elsewhere? Sure – knock yourself out. But to me, those are just icing on the cake – you can have your cake and eat it too.

“But isn’t this post titled Top 10 Most popular products? Aren’t you going to tell us?” Gah, fine. I’ll be you can guess what categories they fall into. Without further ado, here are the top 10 most popular products used on LEED projects in Green Badger: 

Top LEED products - Shaw Ecoworx Carpet Tile
Photo via Shaw Floors

LEED Products Countdown – #10:

PRODUCT: Ecoworkx Carpet Tile

Hit the floor for number 10 – Ecoworx Carpet tile from Shaw, which was used on 20% of projects in our system. Ecoworx provides an EPD, recycled content, and a takeback program, but is also Cradle to Cradle Silver, counting for 1.5 products for BOTH material ingredient reporting and the elusive Ingredient Optimization.

Interface Modular Carpet Tile with Glasbac or GlasbacRE
Photo via Interface Carpet

LEED Products Countdown – #9:

PRODUCT: Modular Carpet Tile with Glasbac or GlasbacRE

Not to be outdone, Interface tops Shaw slightly to come in at #9, with their Modular Carpet tile which has an EPD, recycled content and takeback program, an HPD, and also counts as 2 products for EPD Optimization. 

LEED Products Countdown – #8:

MANUFACTURER: Industry-Wide (National Ready Mix Concrete Association)
PRODUCT: Ready Mix Concrete

Number 8 is the only one not in one of the main categories – it is the industry-wide EPD for ready-mix concrete. This EPD counts 72 different mix designs, and yes, you can use it for as many different mix designs as you have that fall into a distinct category within the EPD. Just make sure your concrete provider was a participant in the EPD and you should be set.

Armstrong Prelude XL Suspension System
Photo via Armstrong Ceilings

LEED Products Countdown – #7:

PRODUCT: Prelude XL Suspension System

Next up is an Armstrong ceiling suspension system – the Prelude XL suspension system to be precise. This ceiling grid offers up an EPD, recycled content, and Cradle to Cradle Silver, counting for 1.5 products for both material ingredient reporting and optimization.

Sherwin Williams Pro Mar 200 Zero VOC
Photo via Sherwin Williams

LEED Products Countdown – #6:

MANUFACTURER: Sherwin Williams
PRODUCT: Pro Mar 200 Zero VOC – Eggshell, Primer, Flat, Semi-gloss

At number 6 we have Sherwin Williams Promar Zero VOC Eggshell. If you counted all the other sheens, which all count as their own products, this would likely be number 1, but we’re only looking at distinct products here. Sherwin Williams dominated the paint category. This product alone had more use in Green Badger than PPG and Benjamin Moore combined, and both of those brands have extensive EPD and HPD options.

Cemco Cold-Formed Steel Framing Systems
Photo via Cemco Steel

LEED Products Countdown – #5:

PRODUCT: Cold-Formed Steel Framing Systems

Number 5 is interior metal studs from Cemco, which hits the trifecta of EPD, HPD, and recycled content. 

Tarkett Baseworks Rubber Wall Base
Photo via Tarkett

LEED Products Countdown – #4:

PRODUCT: Baseworks Rubber Wall Base

Ringing in at number 4 is Tarkett and their Baseworks rubber wall base with both an EPD, HPD, and take-back program.

Armstrong Ultima Ceiling System
Photo via Armstrong Ceilings

LEED Products Countdown – #3:

PRODUCT: Ultima Ceiling System

Used on over a quarter of all projects, Number 3 is back to Armstrong. Their Ultima Ceiling System has an EPD, take-back program, and Cradle to Cradle bronze which contributes to both Material Ingredient Optimization and reporting.  

Owens Corning Thermafiber Insulation
Photo via Owens Corning

LEED Products Countdown – #2:

PRODUCT: Thermafiber Insulation

That leaves us with just the top 2 products – I can sense the excitement! The second most popular product on projects in Green Badger, used by nearly a third of project teams, is Owens Corning Thermafiber mineral wool insulation. This product has an EPD, recycled content, and an HPD, checking boxes across the board. 

LEED Products Countdown – #1:

MANUFACTURER: ClarkDietrich Building Systems
PRODUCT: Cold Form Metal Framing

And that takes us to the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the # 1 most popular product on LEED projects for the BPDO credits. Clark Dietrich interior metal studs – used by over 53% of project teams to contribute an EPD, recycled content, and an HPD to their project. 

So there you have it! 28 of the 30 most LEED popular products fall into the 7 categories I mentioned, and 9 of the top 10 do as well. (For a breakout by category, click here.)

This article should have given you a pretty good idea of where you can focus your efforts to earn the BPDO credits. It almost goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway, focus on the big 7 categories of insulation, flooring, gyp board, ceiling tile, paint, doors and hardware, and interior metal studs and if you want to follow the crowd, jump on some carpet from Interface or Shaw, using ceiling products from Armstrong, throw on some Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 paint, and interior metal studs from Cemco, Clark Dietrich (heck, Marino/Ware was pretty popular too) and you’ll be in good company. For a full overview of the Top 30 Products used on Green Badger projects to achieve LEED v4.1 BPDO credits, access this webinar.

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