3 Ways LEED Product Documentation Leads to Product Specification

Posted On: 
May 18, 2018
3 Ways LEED Product Documentation Leads to Product Specification

The road to product specification can seem like you’re on the Star Trek Enterprise and that you just got transported to an unknown alien planet. There’s lot of steps to take to get specified. There are many strategies to implement. And it’s not all straight forward. It can be confusing! A general overview of some of these options is found in a previous blog, What Building Product Reps Don’t Know About LEED v4. But let’s dig a bit deeper into one aspect of getting specified—LEED product documentation.

You want stellar ROI, and product documentation is a great first step to pave the way for that return. As a product manufacturer, specification can only come if you know how you contribute per LEED credit category. So how can product manufacturers make themselves more likely to be specified? Start with understanding how they can contribute specifically to the LEED BD+C v4 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization-material ingredients and to the LEED BD+C v4 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization-environmental product declarations categories.


Under option 1 of this category, a project needs to use at least 20 different permanently installed products from at least five different manufacturers that use any of the following programs to demonstrate the chemical inventory of the product to at least 0.1% (1000 ppm).

Whoa…that sounds like Klingon.

It sure does! Let’s break it down into something that maybe Captain Kirk could understand. Say you are a manufacturer who knows you have at least one product that meets the needs of a LEED project, and you contact the project lead to make this deal happen. The first question architects, specifiers, interior designers, engineers, and contractors will ask is, “Do you have your transparency product documentation?” because your product must have its chemical inventory recorded with a specific program. In non-Klingon, this means you need product documentation for your product, otherwise competitors that do have this crucial documentation may be specified.

Options for Documentation of Product Material Ingredients

The LEED material ingredient credit option 1 approves nine programs for this documentation. Two of those include:

  • Health Product Declaration (HPD): HPDs offer a standardized way of reporting the material contents of building products and how these materials effect health. This is done by providing a full disclosure of chemicals in products by comparing product ingredients to a wide variety of hazard lists. The HPDC sets the standards for HPDs.
  • Declare: Declare is a transparency platform and product database for building products that labels goods with a full list of ingredients. A Declare label tells where the product comes from, what it is made of, and where it goes at the end of its life. Utilizing a Declare label increases your transparency and visibility.

If your product has an HPD or a Declare Label, it qualifies under Option 1, and your product is that much closer to specification for a LEED v4 project.


Under option 1, which is worth 1 point, a project needs to use at least 20 different permanently installed products sourced from at least five different manufacturers that meet one of three disclosure criteria.

Options for Documentation of Environmental Product Declaration

The LEED environmental ingredient credit option 1 includes three options for disclosure. One of those is:

  • Environmental Product Declaration (EPD): An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is an independently verified and registered document that communicates information about the environmental impact throughout the life-cycle of products. Data collected in the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) can be summarized in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This document is similar to a nutrition label for foods, serving to effectively communicate the environmental performance of your product to your customers. EPDs are being requested by many firms.


We’ve discussed a few ways to contribute to LEED credits, however you may still be wondering how LEED product documentation affects specification.

  1. With the ability to immediately update product info, specifiers have access to your current info while eliminating often cumbersome paper and extra steps. Before online databases, product documentation was kept in binders at each specifier’s location. That meant someone had to send those to each specifier, someone had to organize the papers and binders, and someone had to physically update each binder when needed. With online databases, product documentation can be submitted to one (or more) databases and updated as needed. This cuts back in resources and hours used and puts your product information in the hands of decision makers much quicker.
  2. Once your product is loaded into the database, the specifiers can access all manufacturers with LEED transparency documentation. This means your product’s exposure is broader, again eliminating the time and resources spent. This also increases the chance that a specifier initiates contact! And with several databases available, your product has multiple options of being seen simultaneously by a wide variety of architects and designers.
  3. Transparency documentation is, well…transparent. There are no surprises with a product that has its paperwork finished and up to date. This shows the specifiers that you are ready to do business and value their time.


There are three databases available that are accessible by architects and designers. Mindful Materials, Sustainable Minds, and UL Spot. For the purpose of LEED product documentation, all three of these databases are excellent resources while also having enough differences that set them apart from each other. These databases are the go-to place for specifiers. When they’re looking for a product, 80% of specifiers first access the online database they prefer and find the LEED product documentation. If you’re not in there, you’ve essentially missed an opportunity for a “sales call”.


As discussed in a prior blog, product transparency and LEED product documentation is the new norm. The sooner you begin the documentation process, the sooner you’ll see results regarding specification. GreenCE offers resources to assist you in this process. We encourage your building product reps to obtain their LEED Green Associate credential. The more informed they are, the more effective they’ll be at increasing brand and product awareness with specifiers. To help you, we offer a Free LEED Exam Prep course. We also partner with Elixir Environmental, who is a leading source in product documentation.

Even if you’ve worked in the build industry for decades, this can all sound like…well, like Klingon! The industry is changing and improving faster than it ever has because of technology. Don’t miss the ship and be left behind! Start the process for LEED product documentation. Has your company developed HPDs, EPDs, or Declare Labels? If you have experience with product documentation, do you have any tips to share?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank