Like the similar credit, IEQc4.1: Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives and Sealants, it shouldn’t cost you anything extra to earn this credit—it will just take some work. Your first priority should be to specify only paints and coatings that comply with the credit’s VOC limits, and enforce those specifications on the jobsite. Research low-VOC paints and coatings before construction begins and provide lists of acceptable materials to contractors to help ensure that the right products are used.
Major manufacturers offer paints and coatings that are just as durable and perform just as well as their higher-VOC counterparts. Performance of low-VOC products has sometimes been an issue in the past, but the market has largely moved beyond this point.
Low-VOC acrylic paint is readily available. While it may be more difficult, it is not impossible to find low-VOC oil-based and high-gloss paints. Darker shades of paints also tend to have higher VOC levels. Rust proofing coatings also tend to have higher VOC content, but several name brand providers have low-VOC alternatives.
Low-VOC paint like this 0-VOC Acrylic from Sherwin-Williams does not have to sacrifice performance or cost. Photo – Sherwin-Williams
Making sure that VOC limits are observed demands proactive communication between the designer, contractor, and all subcontractors who do work inside the building. Subcontractors have to be educated about the requirements, and their contracts should require that they document their compliance.
Unlike some LEED credits where only a certain percentage of the materials have to comply, this credit is all-or-nothing—all paints and coatings must comply. If a non-compliant paint or coating gets used by mistake, or if you need to bend the VOC limits to meet the requirements of a warranty or fire code, you can still earn the credit following the “VOC budget process.” You’ll simply have to do some calculations to show that your extra use of VOCsA volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate. was offset by very low use of VOCs elsewhere. You have to meet the budget for paints and coatings separately from adhesives and sealants (for IEQc4.1), though—you’re not allowed to create a combined VOC budget covering multiple IEQc4 credits.
Earning this credit is a key part of a construction indoor-air-quality management plan, and will help you earn another LEED point via IEQc3.1: Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan—During Construction.
Earning this credit can also help teams pass air quality tests needed to earn IEQc3.2: Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan—Before Occupancy.
Using low-VOC paints and coatings is not only beneficial to occupants, but can improve air quality and the health of construction workers who are constantly exposed to construction pollution.
Don’t allow the use of products that merely claim to be “low VOC.” Everyone specifying and purchasing products must actually find the products’ VOC content in grams per liter (g/L), which is usually found on the product’s technical data sheet or material safety data sheet, and compare that number with VOC limits listed for different uses determined by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule #1113 and Green Seal GS-11 and GS-03.
Only 20% of product cut sheets selected at random need to be uploaded to LEED Online to document this credit although it is best to keep all product cut sheets on file in case the credit is audited.
Yes. If you have just one non-compliant product, then you can balance it out with just one really good, low-VOC product, as long as all your other products meet the requirement. For example, if you have two gallons of non-compliant paint that is 100 g/L over its required threshold, then you can balance it out with another product you’re using. You would have to be using two gallons that are 100g/L under the required threshold, or four gallons that are 50 g/L under, or 20 gallons that are 10 g/L under, etc.
GBCI has issued a clarification that the actual barrier does not need to comply with this credit. Any applied products that are 'touched by the indoor air' would need to be considered for IEQc4.2, but if they fall outside of this they can be excluded.
Check out the Resources tab for the Green Seal Standard and SCAQMD Rules for more information. These documents can be helpful in determining where and how your product should be categorized to determine corresponding VOC thresholds.
Graphic Arts (Sign) Coating is found in SCAQMD 1113, Table 1 - VOC Limits, with 500 g/l as the current limit.
Projects should comply with the editions in the reference guide or applicable LEED addenda issued before the project's registration date.
Handheld aerosol spray paints are not covered by Green Seal GS-11 or SCAQMD Rule 1113, the relevant standards under this credit. A CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide under LEED-NC v2.2 was issued that excluded spray paints from this credit, and there have been no rulings reversing this for LEED 2009 projects, although there is not officially a ruling one way or another that applies to LEED 2009. See LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. #2486 2/10/2009.
As stated in the credit language, architectural paints and coatings applied to interior walls and ceilings are subject to GS-11.
If a project registered after the 4/14/10 addendum, then primers must use the 50 g/L and 150 g/L VOC limits for flat and non-flat paints, respectively. The only exception would be when it can be demonstrated, based on the purpose of the primer and supporting manufacturer data, that the product meets the definition of specialty primers per SCAQMD Rule 1113.
First check the allowable VOC levels for each product type you are using – see the summary of VOC limits in the Low-Emitting Material Limits document (see Documentation Toolkit) and then make sure the products specified do not exceed those limits.
Select paint colors and sheen levels.
Many "zero-VOC" paints contain colorants with as much as 150 g/L of VOCs. Natura from Benjamin Moore uses zero-VOC colorants. Photo – Benjamin MooreIt’s easier to find low-VOC paints if you choose lighter paint colors. Darker colors tend to use more pigment and binders, where VOCs are concentrated. When compiling VOC numbers for paints, make sure that the numbers you get include pigment, not just the base paint.
Light colors also make spaces brighter, reducing electric lighting needs.
Major manufacturers offer paints and coatings that are just as durable and perform just as well as their higher-VOC counterparts. Poor performance of low-VOC paints and coatings has been an issue in the past, but is no longer a problem for any but the most demanding applications. Interior wall and ceiling paints (in flat and semi-gloss sheens) are readily available. Some specialty coatings such as rust-proofing finishes can be more challenging.
Make sure low-emitting requirements have been integrated in construction specifications. Products must be at or below the recommended VOC limits. VOC levels can be found on a product’s MSDS or technical data sheet and are measured in grams per liter (g/L).
Guidance on incorporating LEED specifications into construction documents, along with samples, is available from MasterSpec and from the Whole Building Design Guide (see Resources).
Identifying VOC requirements directly on the drawings as well as in the specs is a good way to remind the contractor and subcontractors of the requirements, but be careful to make sure the information is consistent between the drawings and the specs.
It is best to require subcontractors to supply all LEED-required VOC information on the products they purchase at the time they are submitting products for approval. This way contractors do not wait until the end of construction to supply information, and you have the opportunity to review products for LEED compliance before products are purchased.
Specify compliant products by brand name whenever possible. It is best to distribute a list of acceptable products and the VOC limit chart from the LEED rating system at the contractor and subcontractor orientation meetings.
Low-emitting products can be part of a more comprehensive IAQ management plan, as required for IEQc3.1: Construction Indoor Air Quality Plan—During Construction. A comprehensive IAQ plan covers all adhesives, sealants, paint, coatings, composite materials, and overall construction best practices protecting air quality.
Achieving this credit can also help achieve IEQc3.2: Construction IAQ Management Plan—Before Occupancy, if your project pursues the air-testing option for this credit. Using low-VOC products improves your odds of passing the air quality tests.
Only paints and coatings installed within the weather barrier need to comply with this credit. If paints and coatings are part of the weather barrier, err on the side of caution and use low VOC paints and coatings.
Products assembled off-site or factory-finished are exempt from this credit, because it is assumed that VOCs have off gassed before arriving at the site.
Using low-emitting paints and coatings should be a no-added-cost measure.
Some contractors might charge a premium for implementing and documenting this credit but, in general, costs should be minor or nonexistent as more firms start incorporating these as standard best practices.
Hiring construction teams with LEED experience is helpful, as is reviewing LEED requirements and responsibilities with the contractor during the bidding process. Construction teams without LEED experience can be successful with this credit, but will require more training and a closer eye on quality control to make sure compliant materials are used and that items are documented correctly.
Implementing an IAQ plan and use of low-emitting materials demands accountability. It is best if subcontractors are contractually required to implement their parts of the IAQ plan.
The general contractor (GC) should be oriented to all LEED-related issues, including IAQ management, low-emitting materials, environmental material tracking tools, construction waste management, and so on. A list of acceptable products for each use type, and the list of VOC limits, should be provided to aid subcontractors in product selection.
The GC should hold orientation meetings with the subcontractors to review the LEED responsibilities related specifically to their trades. This exercise helps to build trust and is crucial for obtaining buy-in from all participants in the process.
Coordination and communication among the GC, subcontractors and design team early in the process can minimize scheduling delays and pushback from subcontractors.
Give the GC and subcontractors the following tools to help them track materials data for all MR and IEQ credits. (See the Documentation Toolkit for access.)
Research compliant, low-emitting products before construction begins. If product decisions are made after construction begins, with less time to carefully review data sheets, there is a much greater risk of using a non-compliant product.
When researching low-emitting products, double-check that the manufacturer’s information does not use misleading language. A common example is a product cut sheet that uses the term “low-emitting” without providing a specific VOC g/L value. Many cut sheets give a maximum value of, for example, VOC < 100g/L. That’s fine as long as 100 g/L meets the criteria for that product—just enter 100 g/L VOC amount for LEED documentation.
It is common for an MSDS to list the chemical contents of a product without giving an overall VOC g/L number. You’ll need to contact the manufacturer or check cut sheets to get the total VOC number. (See the Documentation Toolkit for a sample cut sheet.)
Obtain VOC levels, in writing, from the manufacturer, for the actual products used on the project—don’t rely on VOC quotes given over the phone.
The VOC value on an MSDS can be unreliable when several different products are listed on one sheet. Get clarification from the manufacturer on the actual VOC content of the product you are using.
The GC should be aware of any warranty issues that may exist if alternative paints or coatings are used. For example, a flooring company’s warranty may require a specific coating that does not meet the VOC requirements. To keep the warranty valid, use the coating specified and use the VOC budget method to show a weighted average VOC compliance (see below).
If noncompliant materials are used onsite accidentally, or due to a warranty or other issue, you can use the VOC budget method. This method compares the total amount of VOCs (in grams per liter) used in the design case to the total amount of VOCs that would have been used if every product exactly met LEED VOC allowances. The calculation must be determined for adhesives and sealants separately from paints and coatings. For example, it won’t necessarily help your case to use low-VOC paints but also some high-VOC sealants. (See the compliance example below for paints and coatings.)
Using the VOC budget method is usually successful, but can be time-consuming to document.
Throughout construction, the GC should collect material safety data sheets (MSDS) from subcontractors and completed VOC tracking forms for all products used onsite associated with this credit.
Assign someone to be responsible for inputting the subcontractors’ tracking forms into the master spreadsheet. A LEED consultant or an administrative assistant in the GC’s office may be the best choice for this role.
Review subcontractor product suggestions ahead of time to avoid the purchase of inappropriate materials and eliminate the need for costly change orders.
Streamline documentation and research by keeping a master spreadsheet of all the items being tracked for each material across MR and IEQ credits. For example, you may need to ask the millworker for regional information for MRc5, certified wood information for MRc7, and information about coatings installed on-site for IEQc4.1. If one spreadsheet collects all the data, it can streamline your documentation, associated research, and help with quality control. (See the Materials Calculator in the Documentation Toolkit.)
A master spreadsheet helps ease information collection for subcontractors, giving them a road map of exactly what types of information to collect for each product.
The GC functions as the overall quality assurance provider for this credit. Responsibilities include conducting weekly reviews of subcontractor product safety data sheets and tracking forms, as well as spot checks in dumpsters to determine which products are actually being used.
Post signs at the construction site that reminds subcontractors to follow LEED requirements for low-VOC products. (See Documentation Toolkit for sample signs.)
Schedule the application of paints and coatings so that off-gassing does not contaminate other absorptive materials. This is required if projects are attempting IEQc3.1: Construction Indoor Air Quality Plan—During Construction. For example, do not store or install acoustic ceiling tile before flooring and wall paints are put down, because ceiling tiles will absorb the off-gassing of paint and contaminate the air over a longer time period.
It is usually a good idea to do a “mini air flush” (if your project is not attempting IEQc3.2) before occupancy to help remove any lingering VOCs from the construction process. This can be as simple as putting industrial sized fans in the window and pumping in fresh air overnight or running the HVAC exhaust on high for a few days. (See IEQc3.2: Construction Indoor Air Quality Plan—Before Occupancy if the team wants to do a full flush-out for an additional LEED point.)
Transfer all the data collected in the master material tracking spreadsheet to the LEED Online form and upload the product cut sheets.
Keep a list of compliant, low-emitting paints and coatings used on the project so that O&M staff can use these products for future renovations.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations
To reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and/or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants.
Paints and coatings used on the interior of the building (i.e., inside of the weatherproofing system and applied onsite) must comply with the following criteria as applicable to the project scope1:
Specify low-VOC paints and coatings in construction documents. Ensure that VOC limits are clearly stated in each section of the specifications where paints and coatings are addressed. Track the VOC content of all interior paints and coatings during construction.
Green Seal is an independent, nonprofit organization that strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by identifying and promoting products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion. GS–36 sets VOC limits for commercial adhesives.
SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the smoggiest region of the U.S. The organization is committed to protecting the health of residents, while remaining sensitive to businesses.
Support on incorporating LEED requirements into specifications.
Green Seal is an independent, nonprofit organization that strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by identifying and promoting products and services that cause less toxic pollution and waste, conserve resources and habitats, and minimize global warming and ozone depletion. This document outlines criteria for anti-corrosive paints and can be helpful in defining application type for products.
SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the smoggiest region of the U.S. The organization is committed to protecting the health of residents, while remaining sensitive to businesses. This document outlines criteria for clear wood finishes, floor coatings, stains, primers, sealersSealers are coatings applied to either block materials from penetrating into or leaching out of a substrate, to prevent subsequent coatings from being absorbed by the substrate, or to prevent harm to subsequent coatings by materials in the substrate. and shellacs, and can be helpful in defining application type for products.
Guidance and sample language on incorporating VOC limits into Specifications.
Teams can use this tool to track all materials across various MR and IEQ credits. It helps teams develop a roadmap of what information needs to be tracked for different products. It can also be used early on to create the baseline budget and ensure the products that are being used will apply to the various credit thresholds.
This is a materials tracking form that helps subcontractors record the environmental values of products they purchase. This can be distributed to each trade subcontractor and submitted to the GC for filing.
Use a letter like this sample to orient the contractor to their responsibilities for all MR and IEQ credits. This letter is an introduction that can be customized for the credits your project is pursuing.
This is a VOC tracking sheet that helps subcontractors record the low-emitting qualities of the products they purchase and can be distributed to each trade subcontractor and submitted to the GC for filing. Use it specifically for earning low-emitting materials credits, but in conjunction with documentation for MR credits.
Products with VOC content not meeting credit requirements for VOC levels can inadvertently get used on the jobsite. A sign like this sample helps remind subcontractors and construction workers of their responsibilities.
Look to product cut sheets for information on the VOC content of paints and coatings. The example here clearly displays information needed for documentation, as well as an instance where more information is needed from the manufacturer.
You can use the VOC budget method to earn this credit by offsetting materials that go over the VOC limit with materials that are under it. The spreadsheet shown here, along with tips in the Getting It Done tab, demonstrates how to perform the budget method. This spreadsheet was completed by Mary Kay, LEED AP BD+C, a LEEDuser reader, and was approved by GBCI on a LEED-NC v2.2 project.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each NC-2009 IEQ credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED Online for each credit you hope to earn.
Version 4 forms (newest):
Version 3 forms:
These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions for these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
Documentation for this credit is part of the Construction Phase submittal.
I have a subcontractor proposing to use a Form Releasing Agent with a VOC level of 445 g/L. I have yet to find a hard-fast requirement for a VOC max. content for this LEED Credit. Does anyone have any input? Does a Form releasing agent even need to meet the credit requirements since it isn't a finish material anyways?
Thanks for your help!
Would form work coatings fall into this LEED credit? What would their VOC limit be? Thanks!
No, they aren't permanently installed. There is discussion below about this topic with more flushed out answers. There are also low voc form oil that you can specify.
1) For Table 1 Satndard VOC limits, there are different values falling under Ceiling limit, Current limit and Effective date. Which value to be used from these for VOC calculation and if its Effective date then which date the final one?
2) Also for HVAC and Fire Protection ducts and piping is VOC needed for them also? If so what is the limit for them?
Saud: I am posting a reply below from an earlier discussion. The Ceiling Limit is not relevant to LEED 2009. The version of SCAQMD Rule 1113 in effect on January 1, 2004 is on the USGBC website in the credit resources section. Use the 2004 column. An October, 2013 interpretation also allows substitution of the categories and limits from the CARBThe California Air Resources Board, part of the state government, is charged with maintaining clean air. This agency is unique at the state level: California was the only state that had such an agency before the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, and was allowed to keep it. 2007 Suggested Control Measure.
I'll let others chime in on the HVAC and Fire Protection question.
"Be sure you are looking at the credit referenced version of Rule 1113 in effect on January 1, 2004. It is available at
http://www.usgbc.org/node/1732511?view=resources The credit is essentially a fly in amber in that it references a long outdated version of Rule 1113 with all of its definitions and limits.
I may be wrong, but suspect you are reading the most current version of Rule 1113 dated September 6, 2013.
As a point of clarification, the 'ceiling limit' is part of the newest version of the regulation. That defines a secondary cap for manufacturers using an exemption system known as corporate averaging. For manufacturers not using averaging (including my employer), the limit is simply the limit. But it is only relevant if you are specifying products to be used in the Los Angeles basin. The rest of the densely populated U.S. states, Canada and several countries use variations of the CARB Suggested Control Measure for architectural coatings."
Thank you so much. I have another thing to ask, in case of water tanks when painting them from inside will it also require VOC data? If so what will be this limit?
We are submitting for IEQ credits 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 and there are several materials that overlap all three of these categories, primarily carpet adhesive (which would fall under 4.1 and 4.3) and concrete sealant (which would fall under 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3). My question is, do I report these materials in each credit form, or do I choose one credit and only submit that material once? Thank you for any and all insight. K
I would suggest reporting each product into each relevant category; I have been directed to this on a past review.
Ideally you would want everyone to use low VOC whether the product is applied on site or off site. However, if for some reason, a high VOC primer was applied in a shop off-site to steel columns which were then propertly dried and cured and installed on site. Would it have any adverse effect during the air testing? What if a touch-up (maybe sanding?) was necessary in the future, would it cause any harm?
The letter of the law is that if it is applied off site, it is not a concern. In addition, i assume that the steel would be either in the inside of drywall or, if exposed, painted? There should not be any impact on IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors. testing.
What is the VOC limit for this ?
Rule 1113 Industrial Maintenance (IM) Coatings Max 420 g/lQuick question - is this product being applied on the interior of the building?
yes - both interior and exterior of the building.
As John-David stated, durable anti-graffiti coatings live in the IM category. IM has performance requirements such as chemical resistance and surviving repeated scrubbing or abrasion - both typical for non-sacrificial anti-graffiti coatings. Some manufacturers bend the curve a bit by selling multiple layer systems where each layer is sacrificial, but still call the product an IM coating.
Sacrificial coatings designed to be removed by pressure washing or stripping materials and replaced after each tagLEED Technical Advisory Group (TAG): Subcommittees that consist of industry experts who assist in developing credit interpretations and technical improvements to the LEED system. would not typically be classified as IM coatings. These would live under other categories such as Low Solids if it is less than 1-pound per gallon solids content or Waterproofing Concrete/Masonry Sealer if marketed for use on brick, block or stone and it has additional water repellent characteristics.
I have a specification for a clear concrete sealer that is used to seal an existing concrete floor. (Ben Moore - SuperSpec 100% Acrylic Masonry Sealer' = 165 g/L VOC)
According to product info it
'Reduces the porosity of masonry surfaces' (sounds like a masonry sealer)
'Provides excellent surface adhesion' (sounds like a primer)
'Tintable' (sounds like a stain)
and of course - it'll go on the floor - as a 'coating' and therefore would not meet the 100 g/L VOC requirement.
the Rule 1113 definitions don't help much - any guidance on this would be appreciated.
I would call this a "sealer and undercoater" for 200 g/L.
It is up to the manufacturer to properly categorize the coating in compliance with SCAQMD Rule 1113. Unfortunately, manufacturers are living in the current iteration and there are some disconnects with credit referenced version which is now five rulemakings behind.
'Floor Coating' can be eliminated from the list as the definition covers opaque coatings and those generally not having concrete protection characteristics.
Absent definitive feedback from the manufacturer, I'd say Mara is on the right track.
As an FYI, the text of the Rule 1113 as it existed on January 1, 2004 is now in the credit resource section on USGBC's website. The CARBThe California Air Resources Board, part of the state government, is charged with maintaining clean air. This agency is unique at the state level: California was the only state that had such an agency before the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, and was allowed to keep it. 2007 SCM can be used as a substitute as allowed in the October 1, 2013 interpretation utilizing its category definitions and limits. The SCM is more universal with manufacturers and is incorporated by reference in CalGreen, the IgCC, ICC-700 and the ASHRAE 189.1 update.
We have a product that will be used on the metal piping of a power generator. The piping will become hot during use, therefore the coating needs to be resistant to the heat.
Not sure what would be the VOC ceiling limit for such product, couldn't find an appropriate category under IEQc4.1 where to fit it, since none of the categories address the "resistance to heat" function...
HIGH-TEMPERA TURE INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE COA TINGS are industrial maintenance coatings formulated for or applied to substrates exposed continuously or intermittently to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Max VOC 420 g/l
Find the product you want to use on the Master Painters Institute http://www.paintinfo.com/
they should have the category, cross reference in their specify green section.
Hi John, I have the same understanding as you! However, there is no "High-temperature industrial maintenance coatings" category in the recent version of the template (V04).
Anyone can shed a light please? That's a tricky one!
We don't have a v4 form but in v3 there is an 'Other' category that you could use.
Actually if you go in the Sample Forms Download inside LEED Online, there is a V4 form for IEQc4.2 which indeed is the form version that our Project will have to fill out.
Of course! I happened to be in LO at the time. Glad you found a work around.
I was wondering if somebody can explain to me the following: In the Table 1 of the IEQc4.2 where the voc limits of the different categories are listed, what excatly ceiling limit means? It confuses me for example how a floor coating has a ceiling limit. :S
Ceiling limit refers to the concentration of a chemical limit that is allowed.
Thanks John, so basically is the limit a person should not be exposed to in a period of time, but this limits will never be used in any instance for LEED right?
No, it is the limit allowed at the time of application and is relevant to LEED as per the Maximum allowable VOC g/l.
Guillermo: Be sure you are looking at the credit referenced version of Rule 1113 in effect on January 1, 2004. It is available at
http://www.usgbc.org/node/1732511?view=resources The credit is essentially a fly in amber in that it references a long outdated version of Rule 1113 with all of its definitions and limits.
As a point of clarification, the 'ceiling limit' is part of the newest version of the regulation. That defines a secondary cap for manufacturers using an exemption system known as corporate averaging. For manufacturers not using averaging (including my employer), the limit is simply the limit. But it is only relevant if you are specifying products to be used in the Los Angeles basin. The rest of the densely populated U.S. states, Canada and several countries use variations of the CARBThe California Air Resources Board, part of the state government, is charged with maintaining clean air. This agency is unique at the state level: California was the only state that had such an agency before the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, and was allowed to keep it. Suggested Control Measure for architectural coatings.
We have multi-layered, anti-corrosive coating application for the steel structural elements in the interior. Layering is like this: Shop Primer, Primer and Top Coat. The VOC value for the top coat 240 g/lt which is below the GS-03 limit 250g/lt therefore OK. But I wonder in the scope of the credit IEQc4.2, should it also be considered the VOC values of the primers and shop primers?
Thanks in advance
Yes, all coatings applied on site are required to be reported; regardless of layering.
I'm trying to determine if I have covered all of my bases for Paints & Coatings. I am working under LEED NC Retail 2009. Forgive me if this is a ridiculous question as this is the first time I'm documenting contractor credits.
I've entered the items submitted for 09 9000 Paints & Coatings. Where else might I look for items that should be included?
Caroline, I don't see anything outside of 09 that would be relevant in terms of site-applied paints and coatings.
Thank you for your help Tristan, greatly appreciated.
I have positive news to share with regards to this credit. The October, 2013 batch of LEED Interpretations included use of the CARBThe California Air Resources Board, part of the state government, is charged with maintaining clean air. This agency is unique at the state level: California was the only state that had such an agency before the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, and was allowed to keep it. 2007 Suggested Control Measure (SCM) for Architectural Coatings as an alternative to the paint and coating categories listed in the original credit language.
Why this is important: The CARB SCM is incorporated by reference in the IgCC, CALGreen, ICC-700, in a CHPS technical update and an upcoming ASHRAE 189.1 update. It is the basis for near future state regulations in the Northeast.
Use of the CARB 2007 SCM categories and table of standards in LEED 2009 will help assure consistency with jurisdictional regulatory, code and standard requirements. Essentially, it becomes a one stop shop for project teams trying to navigate conformance with multiple standards. As an added benefit, most of the category VOC limits are lower than in the original credit language.
The Interpretation is available in the new USGBC Credit Library structure or direct at this location:
The SCAQMD Rule 1113 Rule 2004 categories and limits may still be utilized, however, the category definitions, names and limits are not always consistent with the CARB 2007 SCM. GBCI staff is aware that every category and limit from both referenced standards are available for demonstration of credit conformance.
The Applicable VOC Limits table is still simplified, but it includes clarifications on the scope of GS-11 and GC-03 as incorporated by reference. Specialty products, including high-performance primers and industrial maintenance coatings, can be drawn from the full Table of Standards in Rule 1113 (January 1, 2004 column) or the CARB 2007 SCM.
Revised Table 1:
All of the original reference standards, including the 2004 version of SCAQMD Rule 1113, are located in the Credit Library:
The CARB 2007 SCM is readily available through the ARB website at:
If you want a serious overdose of information about the three yearlong CARB rulemaking process, the main page is at:
I hope this interpretation and easy availability of referenced standards is a help to project teams.
Awesome! Thanks for keeping us all up to date.
Update: The full CARBThe California Air Resources Board, part of the state government, is charged with maintaining clean air. This agency is unique at the state level: California was the only state that had such an agency before the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, and was allowed to keep it. 2007 SCM text is now available on the Credit resource page: http://www.usgbc.org/node/1732511?view=resources
I've been contacted by someone noting confusion on the table linked from the October 1, 2013 Interpretation http://www.usgbc.org/node/1732511?view=interpretations
The table is an amended version of the original credit language with specialty primers parked back under the applicable Rule 1113 (2004) category. The Interpretation allows for the CARB 2007 SCM categories to be substituted across the board for Rule 1113 or GreenSeal. Staff is aware of the confusion and working in the background to modify internal sources and references.
Under Rule 1113; June 3, 2011 Architectural Coatings: Form Release Compounds have a current limit of 250 g/L and then 1/1/14 it drops to 100 g/L. Our office building and parking structure is currently pouring concrete and I'm not positive they will be complete by the beginning of 2014. Which threshold should we comply with the 250 VOC g/L or 100 VOC g/L?
LEED 2009 still applies SCAQMD #1113: 2004, so unless you are building in Southern California, utilize 2004 for your LEED submission.
Does anyone know under what category fall each of these coatings?
Sika® Permacor® 3326 EG-H Part B
Sikagard 720 Epocem, Comp. A
Can I add the product cutsheet to this comment?
Sika® Permacor® 3326 EG-H Part B -Rust Preventative Coatings 400g/l
SikaGard®-720 EpoCem® is a three part, epoxy modified cementitious, thixotropic, fine textured mortar for levelling and finishing of concrete, mortar or stone surfaces.
#1168 - sealantsA sealant has adhesive properties and is formulated primarily to fill, seal, or waterproof gaps or joints between 2 surfaces. Sealants include sealant primers and caulks. (SCAQMD Rule 1168. )Sealants are used on wood, fabric, paper, corrugated paperboard, plastic foam and other materials with tiny openings, often microscopic, that may absorb or discharge gas or fluid. and adhesives (EQc4.1) Architectural Sealants-max 250g/l
In the Bird's Eye View info, the "Shortcut to the VOC budget method" caught my attention under the "FAQs for IEQc4.2" section - this applies to me! My assumption is that touch-up paint (for an object with a factory-applied higher VOC finish) - regardless of how little is used - still needs to comply with the VOC standards. To achieve the "shortcut", how should I proceed? Select the "None of coating products exceeds allowed VOC level" option, fill out the VOC table with all the complying products, but then in the Special Circumstances show a budget calculation of how ONE higher VOC coating (not in VOC table) is counterbalanced by another lower VOC coating (already listed in the VOC table)? Thanks!
Yes, that approach should work. Touch up paint is often non-comliant but luckily easy to offset with something better.
I am helping a manufacturer of a zero-voc Concrete Cleaner/Stripper that is used for preparing concrete for painting figure out how the product fits into LEED. Would the best place to put it be under Paints and Coatings in the "other" category?
Cleaning products are generally not included in any of the EQc4 credits.
What if.... you have two products being purchased for a project: 1) a zero-VOC paint, and 2) an anti-rust additive with 550 VOC g/l that is mixed in with paint after purchase. How would you document these products? Separately? In combination? Independently, the paint is clearly compliant, however, the anti-rust additive is not. The resulting combo anti-rust paint that is produced onsite and ultimately the substance that is applied to the project may or may not be VOC compliant; this would require testing I'm assuming.
Separately, the additive itself does not exactly qualify as a paint or a coating (or adhesive or sealant, or otherwise) so does it need to be included in this credit, or anywhere in LEED, at all? Perhaps not? I saw below that color added at point-of-sale can be excluded. But, when considering the overall intent of this credit, the additive does contribute to odorous IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors. and could potentially be harmful/irritating to installers and occupants. What would you do in this situation? Thank you!
This is a really good question. With two part products, we do tend to expect a combined VOC content but you're right that would mean testing. And obviously an on-site mix like this won't lend itself easily.
I don't think this additive is comparable to a colorant that can be excluded. I do think this level of VOC application as an interior product should be acknowledged.
An expert in this area may respond, but if it were me, I would approach it as a VOC budget. I would get them to provide the volume of paint and additive respectively that they will be using and declare the rust additive as an anti-corrosive coating. I can't imagine they use very much of it as compared to the zero VOC paint so you might be able to get it through on the cap and trade basis. Good luck.
Does this require testing after it is in place?
There is no requirement for testing within LEED Credit 4: Low -Emitting material after installation; all certifications and requirements are to be documented before use. However, Indoor Air Quality Testing is covered under EQ Credit 3.2: Construction IAQ Management PlanA construction IAQ management plan outlines measures to minimize contamination in a specific project building during construction and describes procedures to flush the building of contaminants prior to occupancy., Testing Before Occupancy and if you take the path of OPTION 3: IAQ Testing Prior to Occupancy and there has been a non-conforming material, this is when it will be found out!
Are there any requirements on paints that are applied off-site on materials that are brought to site afterwards?
No, only when applied on site.
IEQ Credit 4.2: Low-Emitting Materials—Paints and Coatings
To reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and/or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants.
Paints and coatings used on the interior of the building (i.e., inside of the weatherproofing system and applied on- site) must comply with the following criteria as applicable to the project scope1:
It is my understanding that if an element is painted outside of the site may not be considered for the calculations, but, what if the voc limit of the paint used for that element exceed the requirements and then is installed inside the weatherproofing system? May that be an issue?
Hi everybody, I'm trying to categorize a cold galvanizing compound spray with the voc content expresed in percentage.
<60% of VOC by weight in a 20oz. of fill weight.
Has anyone deal with this kind of coating?..
Firstly, I would attempt to contact the manufacturer and request the VOC content in g/l.
If not, see if you can do the math with one of these VOC calculators:
Sounds like an aerosol. Under adhesives, this kind of percentage is permitted. I have never seen it in a coating. Is this an interior product? Applied on-site? If not, you can exclude it.
Thanks for your help guys, Michelle the product is an aerosol coating that will be used to cover the welding of the union between galvanized unistrut elements and the steel columns for instance is in the interior of the warehouse.
John, I've tried filling that calculator prior this comments and sadly nor the msds1. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) are detailed, written instructions documenting a method to achieve uniformity of performance.
2. A report that manufacturers of most products are required to make available to installers and purchasers, informing them of product information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures, the existence of potentially hazardous ingredients, and providing instructions for the safe handling, storage, and disposal of products and the technical data sheet have the information enough to perform such calculation.
I'll try contacting the manufacturer to request it on g/l.
Does anyone know if we can use paints or coatings with VOC content well above the LEED requirements, as long as the envelope walls are not yet constructed (i.e., the surfaces are considered exposed at the time of installation of paints, but these will be enclosed after a period of time)?
My reasoning would be "NO" because the paints will still emit VOCsA volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate. for months after application, and this contradicts with the intent of the credit.
Just double checking if anyone had a previous experience with that, because one of the Contractors is "claiming" that he "previously heard that this is acceptable" - although I don't think this is true :)
LEED allows you to use any product without taking care of VOC content as long as the finishing has been applied to a material/component outside the project site. The perfect and simplest example of this is providing metal doors with paint already applied.
It is something similar to this, the material/component with the paint has already been "aerated".
Does anybody know anything about this situation?
All materials under credit EQ 4 must comply if they used on the interior of the building (i.e., inside of the weatherproofing system and applied on-site), even if applied before the building is enclosed. I have not encountered any situation where this was not the case. I suspect the logic is three-fold;
1. this way there is no debate to when the building is truly inclosed,
2. applying material on the interior, even before full enclosure, may cause other materials within the building to be contaminated,
3. There are varying time periods for different materials to "off-gas" (to your term "aerate")
Offgassing is the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic materials at normal atmospheric pressure. This means that building materials can release chemicals into the air through evaporation. This evaporation can continue for years after the products are initially installed which means you continue to breathe these chemicals as you work, sleep and relax in your home or office.
Thank you John, very helpful!
I will assume then that either open or closed enclousure everything need to comply in order to not cause confusion to LEED reviewers.
It make sense after all.
Thank you very much John.
a company sent me an attestation for a floor coating product that proofes a VOC content < 100 g/l testet per SCAQMD Method 304-91.
The LEED referenz guide for NC 2009 askes for a VOC limit of 100 g/l minus water.
SCAQMD Rule 1113 Table of Standards 1 shows a current limit for floor coatings of 50 g/l less water and as ceiling limit of 100 g/l less water.
Regarding these facts I would be happy if somebody could answer the following two questions
Which limit is relevant for my product?
What is the difference between less water and minus water?
Regarding your product the limit is 100 gr/L, there is a category called floor coating.
I believe there is no difference between mines water and less water, both mean reported voc limit of a product is prior water dilution.
Andreas: I realize this comes long after your initial inquiry. Be sure you are looking at the credit referenced version of Rule 1113 available at http://www.usgbc.org/node/1732511?view=resources The credit is essentially a fly in amber in that it references a long outdated version of Rule 1113 with all of its definitions and limits.
As a point of clarification, the 'ceiling limit' is part of the newest version of the regulation. That defines a maximum VOC cap for manufacturers using an exemption system known as corporate averaging. For manufacturers not using averaging, the limit is simply the limit. But it is only relevant if you are selling products into the Los Angeles basin today.
The supplier of epoxy flooring for our project has submitted a product data sheet that indicates a VOC value of 18 g/l (theoretical).
When I asked for evidence of the Method 24 test, the Manager of Environmental Health and Safety for the company sent me an e-mail that explained that..."if the PDS does not specify Method 24 then it is a theoretical value. This is an acceptable value for all air districts in the United States."
I have not heard of a "theoretical" value before. Will LEED accept it? I have sent an inquiry to LEED, but I would like to hear if anyone has had a similar experience.
Jeffry, doesn't sound legit to me. Leaves too much to chance. LEED is looking for the actual VOC value for the applied product. I would at least look for specific assurance that this theoretical value applies to the product.
Any state or regional air quality management district uses regulations approved by USEPA as a means to reduce area source ozone precursors. Every regulation in existence allows for VOC determination by calculation using supplier data and the formulation or by testing through Method 24 and other regional methods approved by USEPA.
A calculated VOC content is legally acceptable to regulatory agencies and equally subject to civil or criminal enforcement. LEED incorporates the regulations by reference and does not require determinations beyond those required by regulation.
It is common practice for project teams to request verification letters from manufacturers. If you are not confident in their assertion, take this additional step for the sake of documentation.
Hello, We did a paint VoC test with an independent party for a type of paint that one of our client is using (because the manufacturer didn't have technical documentation to provide us). The result summary looks like below.
Acetone - Not detected (LOD 0.1ppm)
p-Chlorobenzotrifluoride - Not detected (LOD 0.1ppm)
Methyl Acetate - Not detected (LOD 0.1ppm)
t-Butyl Acetate - Not detected (LOD 0.1ppm)
Do you think this qualifies under the requirement for LEED?
Magda, that is just four specific VOCsA volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate.. A VOC figure for LEED would include more than that—following the VOC standards listed in the credit language.
Does anyone know what the allowable VOC level for acoustement Plaster is? I am not sure what to categorize this under.
Thanks in advance for any insight
Mike, see earlier threads on this forum—plaster is not typically considered a paint or coating per credit requirements.
IEQc4.2 helps projects comply with source control methods mentioned in the SMACNA guide for IAQ plans.
Be very strict in using low-emitting products to avoid failing the air quality test, if pursuing that option.
The planning and tracking processes are the same for both of these credits.
To earn IEQc4.3, coatings used for flooring systems must comply with the IEQc4.2 VOC limits.
Do you know which LEED credits have the most LEED Interpretations and addenda, and which have none? The Missing Manual does. Check here first to see where you need to update yourself, and share the link with your team.
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