Section 2: Individual LEED Credit Reviews
Basis for Cost Assumption
standard" materials: steel products (studs, ceiling
grid, toilet partitions, railings, etc.), gypsum
wallboard (paper facings), and wood particleboard
For both the Courthouse and Office Building
or mdf (millwork substrates). To reach the 5
models, LEED calculations have been developed
percent threshold, however, at least one of three
to demonstrate that the 5 percent recycled-content
major finish materials must be specified with high
threshold can be achieved with no cost impact (See
recycled content: gypsum wallboard, mineral fiber
"Supporting Calculations" below).
ceiling tiles, or carpet tiles. For the purposes of the
In the Courthouse model, different calculations are
study, both the ceiling tile and carpet tile options
used for the "low cost" and "high cost" scenarios.
can be incorporated with no impact on project
In the low-cost options, the building's steel
costs (the reference budget assumes quality
structure is assumed to contain 90 percent
materials for these items, therefore there is no cost
recycled-content steel (60 percent post-consumer,
premium to specify high recycled-content options).
30 percent post-industrial). This high level of
The calculations in the study use the high recycled-
recycled content is common for steel products
content ceiling tiles.
manufactured in "mini-mills," which use an electric
The full faade renovation scenario employs a
arc furnace to produce new products primarily
similar approach. By including high-recycled-
from recovered steel scrap. The majority of
content ceiling tiles with the other "standard"
structural steel building products produced in the
recycled-content materials, the 5 percent threshold
United States contain steel from electric arc
furnaces. At 90 percent recycled content, the
structural steel alone surpasses the 5 percent
Summary of First Cost Impacts
LEED credit threshold in the Courthouse model.
In the high-cost cases for the Courthouse, the
structural steel products are assumed to contain
Courthouse (New Construction, 262,000 GSF)
only 30 percent recycled content (20 percent post-
consumer, 10 percent post-industrial), which
No identified cost premiums.
represents the overall average recycling rate for the
steel industry at large. The 30 percent assumption
is purposely conservative to account for situations
No identified cost premiums.
where steel may be coming from imported sources,
or where the information on recycled content is
unavailable or difficult to track. With the lower
recycled steel assumption, the Courthouse model
relies on additional recycled-content materials to
reach the 5 percent credit threshold. The materials
Some recycled-content products, such as carpet
include additional steel products (decking,
tiles, ceramic tiles, resilient flooring, or wall
reinforcing bar, doors, studs, raised flooring, ceiling
coverings, are available in a limited set of styles,
suspension grid, toilet partitions), flyash in
colors, and sizes. Designers should familiarize
themselves with the product options early in the
insulation, and spray-applied fireproofing. The
design process to ensure that potential product
credit is still achieved with no cost premium.
limitations do not conflict with the project's overall
design goals. For competitive bidding purposes,
In the Office Building model, different calculations
designers must also avoid selecting recycled-
are used for the "minimal faade renovation" and
content materials that are available from only one
"full faade renovation" scenarios. In both cases,
the recycled-content materials are focused on
interior construction and finishes, as the building
structure already exists.
In the minimum faade renovation, recycled
content is accounted for in a number of "industry
GSA LEED COST STUDY