Expert Advice on Green Buildings

Post Consumer vs. Pre-Industrial Recycled Content: What's the Difference?


Isobel asks: Hi, this question is in relation to MRc4 - recycled content under LEED NC2.2. I have data from a vendor for a product that lists the recycled content under a column "Post Industrial". How does Post and Pre Industrial fit into the requirements of Post and Pre Consumer? Or does it?


Hi Isobel,

The differentiation of Post-Industrial content is very important for LEED because essentially it’s the same thing as Pre-Consumer. Pre-consumer recycled content (Post-Industrial) is the percentage of materials in a product that is recycled from manufacturing waste. Examples include planer shavings, sawdust, bagasse, walnut shells, culls, trimmed materials, over issue publications, and obsolete inventories. Scrap items capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated them are not eligible.

Pre-Industrial isn’t really a term used to describe materials, as really ‘pre-industrial’ materials are just raw materials or resources to begin with.

Postconsumer materials is defined as waste materials generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product, which can no longer be used for it’s intended purpose.

As they relate to each-other, Postconsumer is more heavily weighted than Preconsumer (Post-Industrial), as you can see from Equation 1 below:

Equation 1 from that credit’s section in the reference guide:

Recycled Content Value ($) = (% Postconsumer Recycled Content x Materials Cost) + 0.5(% Preconsumer Recycled Content x Materials Cost)

So assuming you have two material options, both with the same cost, it would be advantageous to credit calculations to opt for the one with higher Post-consumer Recycled Content, which makes sense, since that material would be more likely to become waste since it’s already at its end-user.

The LEED MRc4 template will do the calculations for you, but when collecting supporting documentation the following items are recommended:

* Record product names, manufacturers’ names, costs, percentage post-consumer and pre-consumer (post-industrial) content.
* Collect cutsheets or manufacturers’ letters to document the listed products’ recycled content.
* Where appropriate, maintain a list of actual materials costs, excluding labor and equipment for CSI Division 03-10, 31 (Section 31.60.00 Foundations) and 32 (Sections 32.10.00 Paving, 32.30.00 Site Improvements, and 32.90.00 Planting) only; including Division 12 is optional.

Furniture and furnishings (CSI Division 12 components) must be excluded or included consistently across MR Credits 3-7. This credit applies mostly to CSI MasterFormat 2004 Edition Divisions 03-10, 31 and 32. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing components or appliances and equipment are not to be included in the calculations for this credit. This is due to the fact that the relatively high-dollar value of these items would skew the results of the calculation.

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Expert Advice and Comments

LEED CI MRc 4.1 - Steel Products

My steel manufacturer gets his materials from different steel suppliers; each of which uses many different steel mills. So it is impossible to track down the post and pre consumer recycled content. However, he does list his total amount of material used (11000 lbs) and he lists 2100 lbs of scrap that was recycled for the same process. This gives a 19.1% (2100 lbs/11000 lbs)material reuse credit, correct? Is there anyway to use this number/information to obtatin MRC 4?

This helped me out at work.

This helped me out at work.

Post Industrial

Thank you for this write up - it saved me a ton of time on contacting LEED for clarification. A manufacturer just informed me about the post-consumer vs. post-industrial difference when reviewing specs for an upcoming project.

He mentioned this(for resin panels), as well as the fact that many test "kitchens" for these are not being proactive with producing more (and affordable) post-consumer products. Its a bit sad really, we'll only be able to pursue points for proximity and waste management...not for the purpose of protecting our planet with post-consumer products.