Resilient flooring, rubber flooring, and prefinished wood flooring all must be FloorScore or Greenguard Children and Schools certified. Wood, concrete, and other flooring installed raw need not be certified as long all coatings and finished applied to them meet the requirements of IEQc4.2: Low-Emitting Materials—Paints and Coatings.
This credit represents a significant change from past versions of LEED, which focused on just carpeting. LEED 2009 now mandates low-emitting standards for resilient and hard-surface flooring as well.
Another big change to this credit took place in the April 2010 LEED addenda from USGBC, in which USGBC responded to complaints that inert flooring materials shouldn't be subject to the testing requirements. Tile, masonry, terrazzo, cut stone, and solid-wood flooring without organic coatings or 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. now qualify for this credit without further testing.
While this is a construction-phase credit—and the contractor will need to ensure that VOC-compliant adhesives, sealants and coatings have been applied to flooring systems—it can be dealt with primarily during the design phase by choosing specific manufacturers and flooring products for the contractor to use. Allocating adequate time for product research, and identifying compliant flooring products before construction begins, helps to ensure that the right products are used.
FloorScore lists a few compliant products on its website, but a limited number of manufacturers that have had their products tested by FloorScore. Products certified to the Greenguard for Children and Schools standard are also okay, because that standard meets the California Department of Health Services protocol. Beware: the generic Greenguard standard does not meet this protocol. (See Resources for links to products.)
Make sure the contractor and subcontractors know what information to look for. Don’t allow them to use products that merely claim to be low-VOC. Find the manufacturer’s data stating that carpets are Green Label Plus, carpet padding is Green Label, and hard-surface flooring is FloorScore or has been tested by an accredited lab and complies with the California Department of Health Services protocol.
Carpet samples like these are tested in closed chambers for emissions levels. Samples are fit into trays covering their edges, to avoid skewing results. Photo – Berkeley Analytical AssociatesYou’ll have to document flooring adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings twice—once for IEQc4.1 or IEQc4.2, and again for this credit. Enter the same VOC data for flooring adhesives, sealants, and coatings in the LEED forms for IEQc4.1, IEQc4.2 and IEQc4.3.
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.
There is no definitive information from USGBC on this one way or another. It is recommended that project teams do their best to find low-emitting options for IEQc5, and that IEQc4.3 compliance is recommended. However, LEEDuser has heard that project teams have had success not including track-off mats, such as the type with grilles and small strips of carpeting. Also, mats that are removed for cleaning are not permanently installed and thus not subject to credit requirements. Carpet tiles may be used as track-off mats, and are available with the requisite certification.
This situation is not definitively addressed by USGBC. However, because the credit requires the use of flooring products that meet specific requirements, it makes sense to assume that flooring must be used.
The concrete is not considered under the credit requirements because it is not a flooring product. Any coatings used to finish the concrete would be applicable under IEQc4.1 and IEQc4.2.
According to 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. #10267, the project team should mark the form to indicate an Alternative Compliance Path, and include a narrative with a statement that the project is applying the April 14, 2010 addenda, as well as the manufacturer and specific product description of the product claiming the exemption. Manufacturer documentation for each product claiming an exemption is not required.
No. The credit requirements only refer to flooring installed within the project scope.
Technically speaking, the IEQc4.3 credit language would not allow you to earn the credit in this situation. The budget method is not referenced in IEQc4.3. However, there has not been an official ruling on this from USGBC, and a case could be made through a narrative or a LEED Interpretation for earning the credit.
While finding low-emitting throw rugs would be a good idea, they would not be considered "permanently installed" and so would not be subject to credit requirements.
No. A tile or similar product that is coated after being manufactured must meet the credit requirements for flooring product certification.
Yes, it is odd. All the same, unfinished flooring is exempt, while finished flooring must meet relevant requirements.
Consider using low-emitting flooring materials and systems.
Review the table shown in the Bird's Eye View, and the credit language, for low-emitting requirements for different flooring materials.
The cost premium for low-emitting flooring varies. Carpet, for example, should not have much of a premium, if any. Many hard-surface flooring materials such as concrete and wood are typically low-emitting themselves, and simply need a low-emitting finish, which is unlikely to have much of a cost premium. With higher-end flooring products, the cost of credit-compliant and non-compliant products should be comparable for all types of flooring.
Durability and performance of flooring materials that are compliant with this credit should not be an issue, compared with conventional materials.
Bolyu's Flair carpet tile contains 85% recycled content backing and matches the company's broadloom product. Photo – Beaulieu CommercialCarpeting all of your regularly occupied spaces will make earning this credit easier, because compliant carpeting is easy to find and should be available without a cost premium. FloorScore-certified hard-surface flooring, on the other hand, is harder to find as there may be limited variety and availability. However, consider durability as part of your design—hard-surface flooring offers better durability than carpet.
FloorScore lists a few compliant products on its website, but a limited number of manufacturers that have had their products tested by FloorScore. Products certified under the Greenguard for Children and Schools program are also okay, because that standard meets the California Department of Health Services protocol. Beware: the generic Greenguard standard does not meet this protocol.
Resilient flooring, rubber flooring, and prefinished wood flooring all must be FloorScore-certified. Solid wood flooring, ceramic tile, concrete, and other flooring installed without binders or coatings need not be certified, but all coatings and finished applied to them must meet the requirements of IEQc4.2: Low-Emitting Materials—Paints and Coatings.
Make sure low-emitting flooring requirements have been integrated into the construction specifications.
Guidance on incorporating LEED specifications into construction documents, along with samples, is available from MasterSpec and from the Whole Building Design Guide (see Resources).
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.
If possible, incorporate in the specifications specific, compliant low-emitting products by product line and manufacturer.
Contracts for contractors and subcontractors should include their responsibility for ensuring that products they supply comply with LEED’s requirements.
Low-emitting requirements can also be incorporated in a more comprehensive IAQ management plan (required for IEQc3.1: Construction Indoor Air Quality Plan—During Construction) specifying low-emitting flooring systems to control a source of construction pollution.
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-emitting flooring products improves your odds of passing the air quality tests.
Unfinished concrete floors in mechanical rooms are not covered by this credit. Floor finishes like this low-VOC siliconate polished concrete finish are covered, however. Photo – ConspecThe credit only applies to flooring products installed inside. You can exclude flooring or decking in exterior spaces. Unfinished flooring, including floors in mechanical, electrical, and elevator service rooms also are not included.
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.
As accountability is key to successfully implementing low VOC materials, contractors and subcontractors should be contractually required to provide LEED submittal product information.
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 printed information is not misleading. A common example is a product cut sheet that states: “This is low-emitting flooring” without providing the product’s certification status and number. You need a copy of the flooring certification to demonstrate the product’s compliance.
You’ll have to document flooring adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings twice—once for IEQc4.1 or IEQc4.2, and again for this credit.
The MSDS for flooring adhesive, sealant, or coating might just list the chemical contents without providing an overall VOC g/L number. If this is the case, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer for a VOC number.
The VOC Budget method described in IEQc4.1: Low Emitting Materials—Adhesives and Sealants and IEQc4.2: Low Emitting Materials—Paints and Coatings is not available for this credit.
The GC should be aware of any warranty issues that may exist if alternative adhesives or sealants are used. For example, a carpet company’s warranty may insist that a specific carpet adhesive that doesn’t meet the credit requirements. In this case, you’ll have to choose whether to forgo the credit for the sake of the warranty, to get the manufacturer to approve a low-emitting alternative, or to find an alternative product that complies with this credit.
Throughout construction, the GC collects copies of flooring certifications and VOC data from subcontractors for all flooring adhesives, sealants, and coatings. VOC content is measured in grams per liter (g/l), and VOC levels can be found on each product’s MSDS.
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.
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 items being tracked for each material across MR and IEQ credits. For example, you may need to ask the carpet manufacturer for regional manufacturing and extraction locations for MRc5, recycled-content information for MRc4, and the CRI Green Label Plus information for this credit—all for one carpet selection. (See the Documentation Toolkit for a sample tracking spreadsheet.)
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.
Schedule the installation of absorptive flooring systems so that they are protected from construction air contaminants. This is required if your project is pursuing IEQc3.1: Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan—During Construction. For example, carpet tiles installed before walls are painted will absorb VOCs from the paint, and then offgas over a longer 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 flooring systems used on the project so that O&M staff can use these products for future renovations.
Follow specific maintenance practices for the flooring products used. Follow a green cleaning and maintenance policy that limits products with VOCs and other indoor pollutants.
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.
All flooring must comply with the following as applicable to the project scope:
Mineral based finish flooring products such as tile, masonry, terrazzo, and cut stone without integral organic-based coatings and sealants and unfinished/untreated solid wood flooring qualify for credit without any 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 requirements. However, associated site-applied adhesives, grouts, finishes and 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. must be compliant for a mineral-based or unfinished/untreated solid wood flooring system to qualify for credit.
1 The Green Label Plus program for carpets and its associated VOC emission criteria in micrograms per square meter per hour, along with information on testing method and sample collection developed by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) in coordination with California’s Sustainable Building Task Force and the California Department of Public Health , are described in Section 9, Acceptable Emissions Testing for Carpet, DHS Standard Practice CA/DHS/EHLB/R-174, dated 07/15/04.2 FloorScore is a voluntary, independent certification program that tests and certifies hard surface flooring and associated products for compliance with criteria adopted in California for indoor air emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) with potential health effects. The program uses a small-scale chamber test protocol and incorporates VOC emissions criteria, developed by the California Department of Public Health.
All flooring elements installed in the building interior must meet the testing and product requirements of the California Department of Health Services Standard Practice for the Testing of Volatile Organic Emissions from Various Sources Using Small-Scale Environmental Chambers, including 2004 Addenda. Mineral-based finish flooring products such as tile, masonry, terrazzo, and cut stone without integral organic based coatings and sealants and unfinished/untreated solid wood flooring qualify for credit without any IAQ testing requirements. However, associated site-applied adhesives, grouts, finishes and sealers must be compliant for a mineral-based or unfinished/untreated solid wood flooring system to qualify for credit.
Clearly specify requirements for product testing and/or certification in the construction documents. Select products that are either certified under the Green Label Plus program or for which testing has been done by qualified independent laboratories in accordance with the appropriate requirements.
Support on incorporating LEED requirements into specifications.
The FloorScore program, developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) in conjunction with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), tests and certifies flooring products for compliance with indoor air quality emission requirements adopted in California.
The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification ProgramSM. As an ANSI Authorized Standards Developer, GEI establishes acceptable indoor air standards for indoor products, environments, and buildings.
A global leader in third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification, auditing, testing and standards development.
AQMD 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. We are committed to protecting the health of residents, while remaining sensitive to businesses.
Searchable List of Compliant products.
This is the referenced California standard that sets out the procedures and specific criteria for conducting VOC chamber tests.
A guide to specifying for LEED projects, with samples.
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 certifications and VOC content of flooring and adhesives or coatings associated with flooring. The example here of a tile clearly states that it is FloorScore-certified, but the VOC level for the tile adhesive is not given, and will need to be requested from the manufacturer.
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.
Provide this form to contractors or other team members to track flooring materials used on the project, and LEED compliance.
Has anyone encountered a product that is new on the market and therefore is still in the process of becoming FloorScore Certified? Other products from the company are FloorScore Certified, but we have no documentation for this particular product as of yet. Is there any way this product can still count or not?
Can you ask the manufacturer for proof that the product is going through fourscore certification process and request estimated time for certification?
We asked if they had some other way to verify that their product met the requirements and they said they did not...however, I think it would be worthwhile to ask them for proof that it is currently undergoing the floor score certification process.
Thanks for the suggestion. We'll try that.
You can always pursue Option 2 as well where you engage in testing.
Unfortunately, I don't think that the USGBC will accept documentation that suggests that the product is going through the process of FloorScore certification.
We have stainless steel stair nosing with anti-slip PVC strips on our stairs. I do not find any descriptions mentioning stair nosing, but have a feeling that it would need to be FloorScore certified.
Does anyone have any ideas?
Any comments are appreciated!
Depending on your application, this could be a grey area. My inclination would be to include them here. Remember that you can use Option 2.
Sorry for the late reply. Thank you so much for your advice!
I agree that applications like this can be a grey area. In principle, it is a good idea to consider all flooring products that could off-gas in your space.
I have received a response to my inquiry from GBCI.
"Those strips are not listed in the credit requirements and I don't find any addenda that mention them, so, no, they do not need to be considered."
I have a number of products that meet floorscore, but one that meets California Section 01350 but doesn't mention floorscore. Can I mix and match option 1 and 2?
Yes, just check both radio buttons and put things in the right tables.
Yup, as Michelle said, you can definitely pursue both.
Would a testing result from Air Quality Sciences (from 2012) showing that product meets Greenguard Children & Schools criteria be accepted in lieu of Floorscore for a wall base? The manufacturer is Surteco/Doellken however no further certification information is available nor is it listed in the UL Sustainable Product Guide. Thank you!
Agnes - great idea to always check on ul.com/spg for products certified to the UL GREENGUARD Gold certification. Their are currently 8 products certified under the Doellken/Surteco brand on the SPG: http://productguide.ulenvironment.com/SearchResults.aspx?BrandID=854
If it is not one of those that you are talking about, look to the other Doellken or Surteco branded products (on the left hand side of the SPG you can search by manufacturer). If the product isn't on the website then the product hasn't been confirmed to meet the UL GREENGUARD Gold certification which is compliant with this credit (and used to be called GREENGUARD Children & Schools).
Josh - thank you for your reply!
I saw these products before however the proposed product is a wall base, not listed in the Product Guide. Are these "edgebanding" products actually "wall base"? Or maybe they certified materials used to produce f.in "wall base"?
Secondly, since with other credits testing according to CA01350 (and it looks like that's what they did here) is acceptable in lieu of actual certification, I was wondering if this would be the case here, since the manufacturer is posting those results on their websites: http://www.doellken.pl/index.php?id=4117&L=6
I tried contacting everyone listed on these documents, Greenguard and Doellken but no lack in confirming compliance. Please advise. Thank you!
We are specifying a wood floor with HDF core, it is Greenguard certified. Does Greenguard certified meet the requirements of this credit? Is Greenguard Gold equivalent to Greenguard Children & Schools?
From above criteria:
"FloorScore lists a few compliant products on its website, but a limited number of manufacturers that have had their products tested by FloorScore. Products certified to the Greenguard for Children and Schools standard are also okay, because that standard meets the California Department of Health Services protocol. Beware: the generic Greenguard standard does not meet this protocol. (See Resources for links to products.)"
The definition for
"hard surface flooring - includes vinyl, linoleum, laminate flooring, wood flooring, rubber flooring, wall base, and associated sundries." (LEED Reference Guide, pg.492)
This suggests that all wall base product types; rubber, vinyl, wood, tile, etc. that is a wall base should follow Floorscore requirements. But when you are in the LO form the Table L-5, the product type drop down menu only gives you option for 'rubber wall base'. The drop down menu does not give you the option to specify other wall base types. Does this mean that 'rubber wall base' is the only wall base type to be considered for this requirement?
Clarification on the hard surface flooring definition would be great.
thanks so much.
Jaida, I think the form is wrong here. I would select the rubber wall base type and enter the type of product that you actually have.
I am working on a project in Canada that came back with first review commenting on the VOC content of the tile used. We have two types of tile, both are porcelain, one a full body and the other glazed. I am now working through the documentation again and have questions. One is do I use the Option Two path when using tile as there is no option in the drop down menu for exempt products. The other is the glazed tile is actually a wall tile, not floor tile so is it not included in credit 4.3 and only the adhesives and 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. included in credit 4.?
Diana, this is a frequent question, and we have answered it in the FAQ above under the LEEDuser Bird's Eye View guidance.
I have a custom shaped (curved) marble flooring, the marble is mineral based, but the supplier will be cutting the marble shapes at his factory, and will be adhering curved parts to each other, to supply square panels on-site.
the on-site panels will be sealed using 30 g/L voc epoxy, which is compliant with SCAQMD, but what about the flooring itself, should I force the supplier to use the same epoxy that I'am using on-site, or he must use mineral based (organic free) adhesive to guarantee supplying me with "mineral based flooring"?
Omar, I don't know if I totally understand your question but the supplier should use a compliant epoxy product.
Tristan, thanks for your reply. I'am asking about the adhesive that the supplier will be using in his factory. Should it be 100% mineral based so that I can report that I'am using mineral based flooring, or it must only comply with the SCAQMD requirements knowing that It is applied off-site?
Does anyone know if a screed that is applied to concrete slabs prior to installing carpet tiles is considered for this credit and or IEQc4.1/4.2? The screed is a self-levelling smoothing compound used as an underlayment applied onto interior concrete slabs prior to installing carpet tiles as the final floor finish
I would say no, as screeds, as well as self-leaving concrete are cementatious materials; neither SCAQMD 1113 or 1168 reference these materials. As well, I have yet to come across any of these products with any VOC content.
It is necessary to document the floor coatings in the IEQc4.3?
In this project I'm working at we document already the ones with the FloorScore certificate (besides the floor coatings were document in the IEQc4.2 as coatings).
Thanks in advance.
Yes, they should be reported in both categories.
Hej! Our project is placed outside US and we would like to pursue credit IEQ 4.3. For most of the floor materials AgBB as European alternative is ok to document compliance with this credit. But this possibility does not seem to exist for Carpet Cushion and Rubber Wall Base, where CRIColor-rendering index, or CRI, is a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide, and other non-incandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight is assigned a CRI of 100. Green Label and FloorScore is required. How can be show compliance for these two materials out of US?
Juliane, I don't know what's behind that. I would suggest contacting GBCI to see if that's an oversight and if you could use AgBB, or if it's intentional.
I think that the carpet cushion needs to comply with the CRIColor-rendering index, or CRI, is a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide, and other non-incandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight is assigned a CRI of 100. Green Label program REQUIREMENTS and not necessarily be certified by them.
Same for the hardfloors - respect the same levels as the Fllorscore standard
or the Califormia Dept of health Services levels
According to the Global ACPs(january 2 2014)it is posible to use EU testing for hardfloor surfaces ( but not for carpet cushion) to prove compliance with the California Dept of Health Services Standard Practice for Testing of VOC.
I read the string of comments on acetone being used as a floor stripper in polished concrete applications. We have a contractor proposing to use Acetone Based Dye stain for an interior concrete floor. The dye is 0 VOC. We have run across the same arguments from the supplier, that acetone is a VOC exempt solvent. Is this true with LEED? It just doesn't feel right. Can you provide any clarifications about the acceptability of acetone as the carrier for a concrete stain product?
Rebecca, the discussion thread below is pretty exhaustive so I'm wondering if you can clarify what you are doubting?
Hi, our project is installing porcelain tiles which are certified by eco label, green building council italia and singaporian green building. Will this meet the requirement of IEQc4.3 as it mentions all flooring to be Floorscore certified. Floorings certified by floorscore does not include porcelain tiles so is there any alternative compliance path in such a case ?
Neetika, mineral-based flooring such as tile is exempty from the Floorscore requirement, under a LEED addendum that was issued a couple years ago. There is more information on this under the FAQs above.
Thankyou ! :)
I have a project which wants to use Tyroc subflooring, has anyone heard or used this product? This product is not a finished flooring product or FloorScore or Greenguard certified. However, the mfg is claiming that as a mineral-based flooring product, it is compliant without any further testing -http://www.tyrocinc.com/environment/. Underlayment, subflooring is part of the flooring system so how can I determine if this product is compliant? Does it need a certain certification?
I haven't heard of this product but let me ask around here and try to get back to you.
I've asked around the office about this.
Our healthy materials team doesn't have any record or information on the product. Lacking the relevant certifications we aren't sure how it would comply and we aren't confident about the product's emission's related claims.
The product appears to be made of recycled tires and plastics which wouldn't comply without testing in the same way that cut stone or solid wood would comply without testing.
Thanks so much Lauren for the thorough follow up! I totally agree and that was also my first inclination, but wasn't sure if I was perhaps missing something. Thanks again!
Only if the stairs have a flooring product on them.
I am on aproject that is installing some savage wood flooring panels that were removed and saved during demo.
Can I list the unfinished wood as Exempt per the credit language, and then list the VOC content of the wood stain that will be applied to it separately on the LEED Form?
I know this is not technically un-finished wood, but the wood panels that we are receiving to install are unfinished at time of installation, and will be field-finished with a low-VOC stain. And as the wood flooring is salvage material, I have not backup information stating that it meets the testing criteria of the credit.
Is my assumption on documenting this credit correct?
I would assume so. If the wood flooring was in use at least a year prior to your salvage it would have offgassed any VOC issues associated with the initial installation. If it's solid wood, and you list the new stain. You would have to make a narrative explanation in Special Circumstances to support the exclusion. If it's an engineered wood product, however, you might have an issue with EQ4.4.
Yes, salvaged wood is excluded from needing to be included. The stain that you mentioned, however, would need to be accounted for.
Thanks! One more question - Would I list my explanation of wood flooring and tile flooring on the project under "Special Circumstances" or "Alternate Path." Above in the "Bird's eye View" it says to list it as an Alternate path, but I am not sure on this.
I think either is fine. Often I just leave products like this off my list of products completely but it never hurts to provide a narrative explanation either as an attachment or in the Special Circumstances area.
First, on the credit form, even tho flooring such as tile, terrazzo, stone, do not require any 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, etc., do you still need to enter them on the credit form? I know you have to enter the adhesives and 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., but wondering if it was still necessary to include the flooring for these types. If yes, then how do you do that because when you choose from the drop down, it will automatically enter a "referenced standard."
Next, my project would like to use a Forbo vinyl flooring and the Forbo rep sent me a cutsheet that says, "Compliant with CHPS 01350 requirements for VOC emissions and indoor air quality." And she also sent me the certificate of compliance and that lists a reference standard of Cal CDPH 01350. Now, my question is, I understand CDPH spec 01350 is compliant, but do you think if i submitted the cutsheet as well it would acceptable, even tho it only states CHPS? Thanks in advance!
One more question, if you are allowed to use either Option 1 or Option 2 for all flooring, then why does it say above that "Resilient flooring, rubber flooring, and prefinished wood flooring all must be Floor Score-certified." I thought resilient flooring, such as vinyl, can also be compliant via Option 2. Am I missing something? Thanks again!
Yes, you do have to enter exempt products by addendum. Use the Special Circumstances to list them and upload the product data backup there.
Yes, the Forbo will work. Just make sure you put in the Option 2 table. Backup with that reference should be sufficient.
Check both options and put the right things in the right tables.
Phew, thanks Michelle. The documentation for this particular credit is really stressing me out!
Think of Option 1 as giving you very specific testing requirements for each type of flooring.
Option 2 is just straight forward CA 01350 for any type of flooring - including stone, tile, masonry, terrazzo, etc. Testing for this standard is done by Greenguard, SCS Global, FloorScore, Berkeley Analytical, CRIColor-rendering index, or CRI, is a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide, and other non-incandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight is assigned a CRI of 100. and there may be more.
Just double check the different certification levels for each testing agency. For example Greenguard Gold meets the CA 01350 testing standard whereas Greenguard certification does not. The same with SCS Global Indoor Advantage-Gold Certification versus the Indoor Advantage certification.
One note of caution. Download the LEED form and read the fine print. LEED for Healthcare allows you to use both options, but the fine print throws a curve ball in the reporting requirements. In addition, all the adhesives, 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., grouts and mortars have to be taken into consideration as well in the LEED for Healthcare rating system.
Hope this helps.
Thanks, Catherine. This project is registered as New Construction and the credit form allows both options to be selected.
Btw, are you with HOLT, as located in Ithaca, NY???
Yes. Small world eh!
Does anyone have experience or insight or whether other international standards can be used instead fo FloorScore?
FloorScore is not widely available in Europe and thus we were wondering if we could show compliance using other standards.
Is there a link where the actual VOC limits for different types of flooring ca be found?
The credit requirements provide some guidance for projects outside of the US. FloorScore isn't required; you can use the testing requirement instead of FloorScore. "Projects outside the U.S. may use the German AgBB/DIBt testing method and all testing methods based on AgBB/DIBt method (GUT, EMICODE, Blue Angel)"
"All hard surface flooring installed in the building interior must meet one of the following requirements:
Meet the requirements of the FloorScore2 standard (current as of the date of this rating system, or more stringent version) as shown with testing by an independent third-party.
Demonstrate maximum VOC concentrations less than or equal to those specified in the California Department of Health Services Standard Practice for the Testing of Volatile Organic Emissions from Various Sources Using Small-Scale Environmental Chambers, including 2004 Addenda, using the office scenario as defined in Table 7.5 within the practice.
Maximum VOC concentrations meet the California requirements specified above based on the following:
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method V1.1-2010 using test results obtained at the 14 day time point
Projects outside the U.S. may use the German AgBB/DIBt testing method and all testing methods based on AgBB/DIBt method (GUT, EMICODE, Blue Angel) using test results obtained at the 3 day or 7 day or 14 day time point. For caprolactam, if test results obtained at the 3 day or 7 day time point is used, the emission concentration must be less than ½ of the concentration limit specified above because the emission may not have peaked at the measured time points.
If a European testing method (AgBB/DIBt GUT, EMICODE, Blue Angel) had used parameters for calculating test results different from those specified in the referenced California method, then the European test results for carpets or floorings need to be converted into California air concentrations by multiplication with 0.7.
Since projects outside of the US are eligible for using the German AgBB/DIBt testing methods, I'm wondering if this is acceptable for US projects sourcing flooring from outside the US. If my US project purchases wood flooring from Europe that has been tested compliant under Blue Angel, would that be OK?
It would seem odd if a project over the border in Mexico would be fine using European standards because it is "outside the US" but a project a few miles away in CA would not be able to use the same standards. Any thoughts or success stories on using European testing standards for EQc4.3 at a US project? Thanks
It is not acceptable to use the German AgBB/DiBt testing methods for projects located within the U.S.
Unfortunately the test methods and requirements between the U.S. and Europe are not harmonized and in fact are quite different in many ways. In fact, the emissions methods across Europe are not fully harmonized with each other. Between the U.S. and German methods, each has advantages and disadvantages; neither is always more protective to users than the other.
The EQ TAG ultimately approved the compromise position of allowing the accepted European methods in countries outside of the U.S. in an effort to support LEED internationalization. However, this compromise introduced the potential that products compliant with the referenced European methods, but not with the US methods, could be used.
Therefore, to promote standardization and consistent levels of protection for users in LEED projects within the U.S., the European methods are not accepted for U.S. projects.
Any time that more than one method for measuring something is allowed, it can create a situation where users are unsure which method to use (and so they often specify more than one method).
Manufacturers are then forced to measure the factor of interest (emissions in this case) using more than one method in order to satisfy the entire market. This can cause redundant, duplicative, and inefficient costs for everyone involved that would be better spent measuring other issues of concern.
One of the primary reasons we have standards is to promote consistent, best practice ways of measuring the things that are important. Ideally we would have one, harmonized emissions method for the entire globe, but today this does not exist.
While not perfect, the LEED compromise in this case reflects the current state of the art in emissions testing.
Not what I was hoping for, but I better understand the reasoning now. Thanks for the great follow-up.
Can I use the same "VOC budget process" to justify this credit as in credit 4.2 if I make a misatke or If I have just one product that is used minimally on a project?.
Yes, you can use the budget method for this credit as well as 4.1.
Hmm, the FAQ information noted below has guidance that is a bit different:
One flooring adhesive we are using falls under both IEQc4.1 and IEQc4.3, and is over the VOC limit. We are using the VOC budget method to meet IEQc4.1 requirements, but are we automatically disqualifed from IEQc4.3?
Technically speaking, the IEQc4.3 credit language would not allow you to earn the credit in this situation. The budget method is not referenced in IEQc4.3. However, there has not been an official ruling on this from USGBC, and a case could be made through a narrative or a 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. for earning the credit.
I am looking for any information on the use of asphalt paving verses concrete within a building envelope and how the VOC content could effect LEED credits. Since it is not a typical use, there is really no data to help provide direction. Thanks for any guidance offered.
Asphalt within a building envelope doesn't sound likely to be low-emitting and likely to comply. But if you want to go for it, I would reference the hard-surface flooring requirements in the credit language above. Seems pretty straightforward.
We are working on a big box store in Europe striving to achieve this credit, but differences between the standard Green Label Plus and ACP approaches seems to be causing questions related specifically to caprolactum. We have found a supplier of a carpet with GUT certification, which in almost every category seems to be more stringent than CRIColor-rendering index, or CRI, is a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide, and other non-incandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight is assigned a CRI of 100. requirements; however, we have been unable to determine whether/how much caprolactam may or may not be in the carpet. As this substance is specifically mentioned in the text of the ACP, we are concerned GBCI may reject our selection and prevent us from earning the IEQc4.3 credit. Does anyone have any experience or additional useful knowledge related to this potential issue?
Under the potentially useful category, I was looking at IARC categories today and your caprolactam is the only Group 4 chemical/compound listed which means that is it is 'potentially not carcinogenic to humans'. Since IARC is a cancer registry, there is likely no correlation between that and 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.. But I found it interesting when I read your post after reading that this morning. (We're working on a cancer center.)
Wiki says it is a precursor to Nylon 6 which is in a lot of carpets in the US and is a better place to start.
I have a question about IEQc4.3.
Do 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. certified floorings (PHASE 1 & 2) automatically meet the IEQc4.3 requirements?
Actually, the floorscore program was originally designed as an emissions standard for non-wood or resilient floorscoverings. Although wood products can certify against the Floorscore protocol, CARB certification is the primary emissions standard used by the wood flooring industry.
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. ruling is focused on formaldehyde1. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring VOC found in small amounts in animals and plants but is carcinogenic and an irritant to most people when present in high concentrations, causing headaches, dizziness, mental impairment, and other symptoms. When present in the air at levels above 0.1 ppm, it can cause watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; nausea; coughing; chest tightness; wheezing; skin rashes; and asthmatic and allergic reactions.
2. A known carcinogen with no known safe exposure level. Formaldehyde occurs naturally, but appears in unnaturally high concentrations in many buildings because it is an ingredient in binders used in many building materials and furnishings. emissions from composite woodComposite wood consists of wood or plant particles or fibers bonded by a synthetic resin or binder. Examples include particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), wheatboard, and strawboard. - which probably makes up part of the flooring, but this credit focuses on limiting about 35 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. emitting from the complete flooring product. This is due to the fact that it focuses on compliance with the standard commonly refered to as CA 01350 (which is the basis of FloorScore and makes up part of the requirements of UL GREENGUARD Gold). Having CARB compliant parts of the flooring might help the product meet the CA 01350 limits, but meeting them won't receive this credit alone.
It's stated in IEQc4.3 that unfinished/untreated solid hardwood automatically qualifies for this credit. Could the same be said for unfinished engineered hardwood? This would be a engineered product that meets the requirements of 4.4 (composite). It would be finished on site with a finish/stain meeting the requirements of 4.2
Becky, the 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. that established the language you're referring to specifically refers to "solid" untreated wood flooring. I do not think this would apply to a composite product, even meeting IEQc4.4 requirements.
IEQc4.3 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.
If adhesive and sealants are used on low-emitting flooring systems, they have to also meet the IEQc4.1 VOC requirements.
If paints and coatings are used on low-emitting flooring systems, they have to also meet the IEQc4.2 VOC requirements.
Composite flooring products such as bamboo, or hardwood veneer with composite backing must have no added urea-formaldehyde to earn this credit.
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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