Several times a month SHP Leading Design hosts “lunch and learns” where product representatives come and tell us about their carpet, storefront system, door hardware, tile or whatever else it is that they represent. With LEED becoming so popular, many of them want to tell us about the great “green” attributes of their products. Some of the representatives are very knowledgeable about the sustainability issues that are involved with their products and are able to very clearly tell us how their product contributes to energy efficiency and good indoor air quality and how it might help us on a LEED project with things like recycled or regional content. Unfortunately, these knowledgeable product reps aren’t as common as I would like. Many reps come in tell us that their product will “get us” 14 LEED points (or some other outrageous number) or that their products are “LEED Certified”. This is one of my biggest pet peeves; products don’t earn credits in and of themselves (and certainly not 14 of them!) and there is no such thing as a “LEED Certified” product- LEED certification is only for buildings.
My co-workers and I are knowledgeable enough about LEED and sustainability that we typically know how to determine when a product is truly environmentally preferable regardless of what the rep is telling us- we just giggle a little and try not to make too many faces when they throw out untrue LEED claims. However, I am very concerned that there are many other firms out there who hear these same lunch and learn presentations that are just starting out on the path of becoming more sustainable and they might be very confused about these claims. Lately, it’s become a little bit of a personal crusade to approach these reps who don’t have a firm handle on their product’s “greenness” after the presentation and, hopefully gently, give them a little bit of information on the claims they are making. I always feel like a jerk when I’m doing it, but hopefully most of them appreciate it at least a little.