Green Building Standards Encourage Clean Vehicles

Retrofit construction vehicle
Construction vehicle with diesel emission retroft
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New green building standards encourage cleanup of dirty diesels during construction phase.

Fleets with low-emission diesel vehicles have competitive advantage.

Columbus, OH – Green-minded building designers now have another tool to design cleaner, more sustainable buildings: clean construction fleets.

A clean construction pilot credit has been added into the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Pilot Credit Library. The pilot credit aims to limit emissions from dirty diesel engines that are harmful to public health and the global climate, a first for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

In order to use the Clean Construction pilot credit towards voluntary LEED certification for a building, during the construction phase the project must:

  1. Limit particulate matter (PM) pollution from on-road vehicles and non-road equipment;
  2. Limit unnecessary idling;
  3. Prevent indoor air pollution by keeping construction emissions away from air intakes and openings of adjacent buildings, and;
  4. Provide data.

In addition, this is the first pilot credit to be approved and posted through the USGBC’s member-generated pilot credit process. The LEED Pilot Credit Library is an interactive mechanism for testing proposed credits in the marketplace before a credit is considered for inclusion into a future LEED rating system.

“This is an innovative step toward cleaning up dirty diesel pollution,” states David R. Celebrezze, Director of Air & Water Special Projects at the Ohio Environmental Council. 

“Cleaning up diesel pollution is not only good for public health and the climate, but it will give clean construction companies a competitive advantage.”

Fine particle pollution produced by diesel engines causes an estimated 21,000 deaths a year in the United States, according to a 2005 report by the Clean Air Task Force, Diesel and Health in America: The Lingering Threat. As a contributor to climate change, black carbon in diesel pollution is about 2000 times more potent than CO2. Diesels account for over half of the U.S. black carbon emissions.

The Clean Construction Pilot Credit is available in the LEED Pilot Credit Library.

A three-year transition period allows for newer, cleaner equipment to penetrate the marketplace, providing an easy range of opportunities to rent or buy new equipment, or to retrofit old equipment to reduce PM pollution and achieve the credit.

The pilot credit is the result of almost a year of public-private collaboration between United Rental, Clean Air Task Force and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop the appropriate language for USGBC to review. Each team member brought significant yet widely divergent expertise to the table, resulting in a broad-based consensus on the pilot credit language.