U.S. Green Building Council Tests ‘Social Equity Credits’ for LEED Certification

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The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an ECC Board member, has added three new “social equity credits” to its system for testing and refining new credits toward LEED certification. The three credits are for social equity within the project team, the community and the supply chain.

Explains Joel Ann Todd, a past chair of the LEED Steering Committee, in an article on the USGBC website, “The credits are designed to address social equity from the perspective of everyone who is touched or impacted by a building – including the building’s construction workers, designers, engineers and other project team members; its surrounding community; and those involved in the building’s materials supply chain.”

Prevailing Wages, Community Engagement
The credit for equity within the project team means encouraging all involved in a building project to incorporate social equity into their daily activities, for example by paying prevailing wages to construction workers or providing workforce development.

Social equity within the community encourages a project team to address needs and disparities in the project’s surrounding community through a process of engagement with community stakeholders.

And social equity in the supply chain is described as equity for those who produce building materials and products, from raw material extraction through final assembly.

The creation of the new credits, Todd says, signals the maturation of the green building movement by addressing all aspects of sustainability, including a “focused approach to addressing inequities to those affected by a project.” They build on LEED’s newest goals: “to enhance community, social equity/environmental justice and quality of life and to build a greener economy.”

“We commend USGBC for recognizing equity as essential for environmental sustainability and noting that vulnerable populations rarely have a say in the development of projects in their neighborhoods,” said ECC President and CEO Denise Fairchild. “The new social equity credits should go far in addressing those concerns.”


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