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What’s the Difference? Clarifying the Terminology Used for Wood - SP'10 - Newsletter

While it’s the most common reclaimed material, the terminology used to define wood for sustainable projects is among the most confusing. While many wood terms have been used interchangeably, the differences can make a significant difference a project’s ability to obtain valuable LEED credits.

To qualify for MR Credit 3 Materials Reuse, your material must have been previously used. Wood from buildings count, of course, but it can also be reclaimed or salvaged from bridges, telephone poles, street pavers, ocean boardwalks or another definable function. Wherever it came from, it must have been used prior to your project’s installation to qualify.

River reclaimed materials—like sinker cypress—may be harvested from sunken trees that are several hundred years old. Though this wood often offers incredible beauty and reduces environmental impact, unfortunately these materials don’t qualify for Materials Reuse credits.

The same goes for urban reclaimed materials, which typically refers to urban growth trees removed for development. While these materials may qualify for the Regional Materials credits, they don’t meet the criteria for Materials Reuse or Certified Wood.

While reclaimed materials can legitimately carry a claim of FSC Recycled or FSC Reclaimed, these materials cannot qualify for the Certified Wood credit 7, since only new, permanently installed wood applies. However, if you empower the use of reclaimed materials on your project, they can actually help with the Certified Wood credit, as reclaimed materials are not counted towards the overall wood cost calculation.

Some also claim that reclaimed materials can count for MR Credit 4 Recycled Content, but today this is not applicable under previous or current GBCI and LEED Standards.

As a rule of thumb, if materials are applied towards the Materials Reuse credit, they cannot qualify for MR credits 1 Building Reuse, 2 Construction Waste Management, 4 Recycled Content, 6 Rapidly Renewable Materials or 7 Certified Wood (anything other than Materials Reuse and Regional Materials). And even when some materials found on an existing site are used on a new project, those materials may not always qualify for the Material Reuse credit depending upon the material, the prior use and the new use.

It seems complicated, and it can be. That’s why PlanetReuse is there, to share their in-depth knowledge and experience with these requirements in order to maximize the credits your project can receive at the lowest possible cost.