On Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2004, the USGBC issued its Draft Report for public comment on the use of PVC in buildings and how this should be treated in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Public comments are be due by Feb. 15, 2005 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
In November 2002, USGBC charged its Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) with reviewing the available information to determine whether there was a reasonable case for establishing credits within the LEED Green Building rating System for the exclusion of PVC and vinyl products. PVC is used in many common products such as siding, piping, drainage-products, window frames, floorcoverings, and as a component of some carpets, wallcoverings, and other products. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.
At present, USGBC’s position is that it neither supports nor opposes the use of PVC and vinyl products in buildings. This report examines whether this position should change.
USGBC has been under pressure from some environmental groups to include credits within the LEED Green Building Rating System for excluding the use of PVC and vinyl products. Equally, the vinyl industry has argued that the available science does not support such a credit. In such instances, USGBC refers such contentious technical issues to its Technical Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC).
The TSAC follows a published 9-step process in responding to these contentious technical issues as follows:
1. Define the charge.
2. Form an expert Task Group (TG).
3. Solicit stakeholders.
4. Solicit written input from stakeholders.
5. Review stakeholder submissions.
6. Synthesize information and prepare draft report.
7. Solicit stakeholder comment on draft report.
8. Prepare final report and recommendations.
9. Develop USGBC position.
The TSAC formed an expert Task Group (Task 2) comprising experts in life-cycle assessment, construction materials, and health. The Task Group reviewed over 2400 scientific documents and stakeholder submissions and researched most of the major PVC or vinyl products compared to common alternatives. This comprehensive study is believed to be the first internationally to reconcile the occupational and environmental health impacts together with the Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) impacts over all major life-cycle stages.
The task group’s findings are now posted for public comment (Step 7) to allow outside organizations to share any further new research or data that could affect the conclusions of the draft report. It is acknowledged that there are some gaps in the available data. Where significant gaps have been identified, the sensitivity of final results to these gaps has been assessed.
The report will be posted online at (www.usgbc.org) and also is available by calling (202) 848-7422. All comments to the report must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on Feb. 15, 2005.