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January - February 2003

WDMA Opens Up

Imagine That
Doors Fit Sustainable Design Concepts
by Alan J. Campbell

It’s not a new concept. In fact, sustainability and sustainable design have been around for years. But today, it continues to grow in recognition and practice, because sustainable design means the future to our environment.

Doors are perfect examples of sustainable designs in and of themselves. They last a lifetime and can be refinished and revived even after the longest tenure of use. When finally they have served their purpose, wood doors can be recycled into other products. 

Sustainable design has gone mainstream, and WDMA members continue to follow and keep a keen eye on how their products measure up and attribute to the health of the environment. Key to the concept of sustainability is conducting business without reducing the capacity of the environment for generations. 

LEED Rating System 
Guiding the move into sustainable design and developing ways to measure this concept is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). USGBC has developed a relatively new system to measure where building products fall as far as sustainable design, which is called the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™. 

The LEED rating system is a series of voluntary standards designed to encourage high-performance, sustainable buildings and establish a nationally recognized name for green building practices. A LEED system rating, applicable to new construction and renovation projects, existing buildings and commercial interiors, does not give individual ratings, but examines an entire building system to determine point credits.

Keith Winn, an industry consultant with Catalyst Partners in Grand Rapids, Mich., says understanding the concept and its applicability is crucial for the industry. He adds that the USGBC recommends manufacturers familiarize themselves with the rating system and the credits that might apply to their products, for themselves and their customers. 

Interest in the LEED Rating System continues to go through the roof. Through the middle part of last year, some 23 projects had been certified, with hundreds of projects registered. In addition, interest in USGBC programs and green buildings in general continues to flourish. 

Sustainability in the Window and Door Industry
Winn says energy efficiency is a key category to which door manufacturers can contribute to system ratings quite effectively. He notes other points regarding sustainability and the industry:

• The type of material used is important, as well as the reuse of materials in renovations;

• Certified wood continues to garner attention, especially with regards to these standards;

• Especially in renovations, resurfacing doors rather than installing new ones could affect an LEED rating;

• Recycled content in new doors could also affect the LEED rating, and even more if the material is from post consumer products versus industrial waste;

• Even when the door with new or recycled material is produced it is figured into the LEED rating. 

For the door, window and skylight industry, forward thinking means getting comfortable with the standards and practices that encourage sustainable design. 

Determining LEED Status
A number of factors are figured into the LEED rating and point system. A system rating examines an entire building system to determine point credits. Individual company building products cannot become LEED-certified.

The LEED-system measures the impact a building has on the environment by authorizing credits in five different categories: sustainable sites, 22 percent of points; water efficiency, 8 percent; energy and atmosphere, 27 percent; materials and resources, 20 percent; and indoor environmental quality, 23 percent.

The four levels of certification are:

• LEED Certified: 26-32 points;

• Silver Level: 33 to 38 points;

• Gold Level: 39-51 points; and

• Platinum Level: 52+ points (69 possible);

For additional information, visit www.leedbuilding.org or www.usgbc.org


Alan J. Campbell, serves as president of the WDMA in Des Plaines, Ill.

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