The LEED Connection: A Synergy of Nature and Science

Dec. 7, 2005

At Dow, sustainable development is an integral part of long-term strategy. Results, not words, have become the measure of progress - highlighted by the introduction of specifiable new products. Green building practices such as those defined by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® have helped to establish the direction for product research, resulting in two outstanding new technologies for commercial interiors: WOODSTALK™ high-performance agrifiber-based products for wood applications and BIOBALANCE™ Polymers, advanced polyurethane polymers for commercial carpet backing applications.

Dow manufactures WOODSTALK™ in Elie, Manitoba, Canada from formaldehyde-free polyurethane resin and harvested wheat straw fiber - a sustainable, annually renewable resource. An inherently low VOC alternative to products such as MDF and particleboard, WOODSTALK is recommended across a broad range of applications, including ready-to-assemble furniture, cabinets, millwork, store fixtures, case goods, fiberboard core hardwood plywood, shelving, and underlayment.

The process of making WOODSTALK has environmental benefits as well, converting the crop residue remaining after wheat harvest from a disposal burden to a revenue-producing second crop. According to Martin Lehman, Dow WOODSTALK manufacturing leader, “The wheat straw incorporated into WOODSTALK creates a valuable use for a material that would otherwise be burned. The resulting reduction in air pollution has beneficial health implications as well as contributing less greenhouse gas emissions." Recognition of the functional and environmental advantages of WOODSTALK has been widespread, including being named in 2002 as one of the top 10 new green building products by GreenSpec® Directory and Environmental Building News.

BIOBALANCE™ Polymers are polyurethane polymers that are manufactured with a portion of the polyol coming from a sustainable, annually renewable resource, the soybean plant. Today, BIOBALANCE Polymers are incorporated into BioCel™ Polyurethane Backings Systems processed at Universal Textile Technologies, LLC (UTT) including backing made with ENHANCER™ Technology and ENFORCER™ Technology.

Specifiers of Dow’s technology processed at UTT receive the added enhancement of a non-woven outer surface made from 100% post-consumer recycled PET, enabling some products to achieve 55-65% green by weight. BIOBALANCE Polymers borrow from nature and leverage world-class carpet backing experience, culminating in this noteworthy addition to green building products from Dow.

Green Building Practices
As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Dow has gained valuable insight on sustainable products and the needs of the commercial interiors market. The potential LEED credit makes WOODSTALK and BIOBALANCE attractive options for specification in commercial interiors (see table below).

LEED Credit Information for BIOBALANCE™ and WOODSTALK™







Environmental Quality

EQ 4.3

EQ 4.4

Low or reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in commercial interiors

EQ 4.3 - One pt.

EQ 4.4 - One pt.

Low VOCs is a Dow polyurethane carpet backing design criterion

Naturally low VOCs measure same as background; manufactured with a formaldehyde-free resin


Materials and Resources

MR 4.1

MR 4.2

Recycled content - products with any recycled content contribute to achieving points within this credit; credit dependent on building recycled content

MR 4.1 - One pt.

MR 4.2 - One additional pt.

Carpet backing made with ENHANCER Technology and ENFORCER Technology with integral recycled content can be specified and the recycled content will contribute to the requirements


Straw is considered a post-industrial waste and as the main

raw material for WOODSTALK, the recycled content will contribute to this LEED credit

Materials and Resources

MR 5.1

Local/regional manufacturing and materials (20% of building materials must be manufactured within 500 mi. of project)


MR 5.1 - One pt.

Contribution dependent on project proximity to manufacturing site in Dalton, Ga.

Contribution dependent on proximity to manufacturing site in Manitoba, Canada

Materials and Resources

MR 5.2

Locally harvested building materials requires half of materials identified

in MR 5.1 to be harvested locally

MR 5.2 - One pt.

The renewable resource content of BIOBALANCE Polymers included in carpet backing made with ENHANCER Technology and ENFORCER Technology may contribute to this LEED credit


Due to local wheat straw supply, credit for MR 5.2 may be achieved if

MR 5.1 requirements are met

Materials and Resources

MR 6.0

Rapidly renewable resource credit, defined as resources that are planted and/or harvested in a 10-year cycle

MR 6.0 - One pt.

The renewable resource content of BIOBALANCE Polymers included in carpet backing made with ENHANCER Technology and ENFORCER Technology may contribute to this LEED credit

Wheat straw, a major component of WOODSTALK, qualifies the product for contribution to the rapidly renewable resource credit

What is LEED?
An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is a rating system and certification program promoted as a blueprint for sustainable building practices developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Registered projects may be awarded Silver, Gold or Platinum certification depending on extent of compliance. Certification depends upon the cumulative contribution of products and processes used in the building, providing incentive for accelerated development and introduction of sustainable products and processes.

For more information on DOW™ Polyurethane Technology, visit

®™Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow

LEED is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council.

GreenSpec is a registered trademark of BuildingGreen, Inc.

BioCel is a trademark of Universal Textile Technologies, LLC.

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