This April will see a notable addition to existing LEED standards. According to an article in Woodworking Network, the United States Green Building Council is addressing "level," a sustainability program that is gradually gaining more of a presence inside the USGBC's current building requirements.

The source states that the most recent accomplishments are part of a larger plan to further the principles of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, the organization behind the level standard.

This certification assesses furniture manufacturing facilities and products alike, scoring subjects based on impact within four categories: materials, energy & atmosphere, human & ecosystem health and social responsibility.

For the last of these points, certified organizations are judged on criteria such as inclusiveness programs and community outreach, as well as cultivating a socially responsible supply chain. The program has won USGBC approval and can now count toward a materials credit under LEED v4. 

This isn't the only approval the level certified program has obtained. Last October, it was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and recognized as a valid program for furniture buyers to use when attempting to establish compliance. 

"EPA's Interim Recommendations are based on specifications, environmental performance standards, and ecolabels evaluated and currently utilized by federal agencies to assist in their procurement of environmentally preferable products and services," the 2015 statement said. "We are pleased to report this progress as a result of years of work with the EPA, GSA and other federal agencies."

Although the USGBC and BIFMA ratings may differ, this change shows the growing importance of green standards for both of these organizations. Participants who want to satisfy local reuse requirements may need to work with local environmental office solutions that keep better social responsibility as a high priority.