Recycled Content

LEED rewards green building projects that use materials with recycled content, because they reduce the material's environmental impact and give the recycled content a second life.

Items or products made with recycled content contain materials that have been recovered or diverted from a waste stream.


Materials with recycled content are more sustainable because they prevent used materials from going to the landfill, giving them a second life.  This practice reduces the demand for virgin materials and often decreases a finished product's embodied energy, since materials with recycled content typically require less manufacturing than creating a completely new product.  Therefore, LEED encourages the use of materials that contain recycled content.


In LEED 2009, Materials and Resources Credit 4: Recycled Content awards 1-2 points for using 10-20% recycled content on a project. The formula for recycled content is post-consumer content + 1/2 pre-consumer content - meaning that post-consumer recycled content is weighted twice as heavily.


The difference between post-consumer and pre-consumer content in LEED is just how it sounds: Post-consumer content comes from materials that have been used by a consumer, or an end user, and are being made into something else for another purpose.  Examples of post consumer recycled content include newspaper, glass bottles, yogurt containers, construction and demolition debris, plastic bottles, soup cans, and steel.


Pre-consumer content is material that has not yet been used by a consumer, but is a byproduct of the manufacturing process.  Examples of pre-consumer recycled content include sawdust, walnut shells, fly ash, over-issue publications, textile clippings and obsolete inventories.


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