Schools-2009 IEQc4.5: Low-Emitting Materials—Furniture and Furnishings

  • Pursue four of six low-emitting materials credits

    Schools have six low-emitting materials credits, but can earn a maximum of four points from them, so choose four to pursue: 

    Choose the credits that are the easiest for your project to achieve. Typically IEQc4.1 and IEQc4.2 are the easiest.  IEQc4.3, IEQc4.4, and IEQc4.5 can be more difficult or expensive to achieve.

  • Straightforward credit, but can be tough

    Of all the IEQc4 credits, IEQc4.5 can be among the most straightforward point to earn, especially if you choose to meet the credit by using Greenguard Children and Schools–certified furniture. 

    Teams may find it difficult or costly, however, to meet their needs for all classroom furniture through Greenguard, due to somewhat limited choices. Note that this credit requires Greenguard Children and Schools certified products, which are different from Greenguard Indoor Air Quality certified products. 

    Pick furniture from an approved list when possible

    Greenguard logoOption 1 using Greenguard Children and Schools certified furniture, is the most straightforward option. Simply go to the Greenguard website and choose from the list of certified furniture and furniture systems. If you can’t find Greenguard furniture that meets your needs, try one of the other options.

    Option 2 sets out a testing protocol for furniture that is different than the one required for credits IEQc4.1–4.4 (although some of the VOCs being tested are the same). The testing procedure for IEQc4.5 must be based on the EPA’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Large-Chamber Test Protocol. There are a number of products that have been tested, but finding these products tends to be more difficult than simply finding Greenguard-certified products. Under this option, if a piece of furniture has not been tested or you have trouble finding compliant furniture, you will need to have the furniture tested. 

    Option 3 sets out a testing procedure based on ANSI/BIFMA standards M7.1-2007 and X7.1-2007, and must be performed by a third-party testing laboratory. There are a number of products that have already been tested but it’s not as easy to find these products as it is to find Greenguard-certified products. If a piece of furniture has not been tested or you have trouble finding compliant furniture, you will need to have the furniture tested. 

    For Option 2 and 3 there are also lists of certified products available for the other protocols such as Scientific Certification Systems and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (see Resources).

    What does and does not have to comply

    Furniture in the cafeteria, auditorium, gym, school offices, and other non-classroom spaces does not have to meet the credit requirements. This credit is intended for classrooms only. 

    Chair deskGreenguard Children and Schools certified products like the Discover chair can be found on Greenguard's website. Photo – Artco-Bell CorporationUsed or reused furniture (older than one year) is exempt from the credit requirements as long as it was not refurbished or refinished within the last year. For projects reusing most of their old furniture (or installing used furniture), or only a few, new pieces, this credit is simple to achieve. You’ll have to purchase some new furniture in order achieve the credit this is a no action, no credit point. 

    Allow adequate time for product research. Researching compliant products before construction begins—and providing a list of acceptable materials—helps ensure that the right products are used. The person in charge of purchasing furniture needs to understand the standards and credit requirements in order to know how to verify that products are compliant. This information can usually be found on the product data sheet.

Legend

  • Best Practices
  • Gotcha
  • Action Steps
  • Cost Tip

Pre-Design

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  • Make sure you address this credit early on, ideally during schematic design. If you have already started purchasing furniture, earning this credit could be challenging because you may need to test already purchased furniture or back out of orders to get compliant products. 


  • Determine which four of the six available IEQc4: Low-Emitting Materials credits are most appropriate for your project to pursue, in order to earn the maximum four points for IEQc4. (You may also be eligible for an Exemplary Performance point through IDc1, if you attempt more than four of the IEQc4 credits.) The most suitable credits vary depending on the school’s needs and project team experience.


  • Furniture that was manufactured, refurbished or refinished over a year prior to occupancy does not need to comply with the requirements. So, if you’re reusing a lot of furniture, this credit will be particularly straightforward to achieve. 


  • Deciding which IEQc4 credits to pursue early in design will guide you in specifying and purchasing the appropriate products. Pursuing all six credits is a great way to create a robust IAQ program, and will help you pass the air quality testing requirement for IEQc3.2: Construction IAQ Management Plan—Before Occupancy. 


  • Some school districts include Greenguard Children and Schools certified products in their standard specifications. If this is the case, achievement of this credit is a given. Check to see if bulk purchasing discounts have been arranged or if the district has preferred product types. 


  • Only furniture in the classrooms must comply with the credit. Furniture in cafeteria, gym, auditorium, offices, and other non-classroom spaces is not covered by the credit. 


  • Once you have confirmed that your project will be attempting this credit, determine which option is best. You may find that it is best to mix and match the options to get your desired furniture selection. 


  • Option 1 is the most straightforward—simply go to the Greenguard website, select the “Find Products” tab, and then select the Children and Schools Certified Product Guide. Enter your search criteria to find certified products.


  • EPA chamber testEPA's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) large-chamber testing facility. Photo – EPAOption 2 requires use of furniture tested with indoor-air concentrations less than or equal to the maximum indoor air concentrations shown in the table in the credit language. The testing procedure must be based on the EPA Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Large-Chamber Test Protocol for Measuring Emissions of VOCs and Aldehydes (September 1999) and conducted by an independent laboratory. (See the Guidelines on ETV Testing Procedures in the Documentation Toolkit for more detail on testing requirements.) See the CHPS website for a list of compliant furniture—see Resources. 


  • Option 3 also requires using furniture tested to meet the maximum indoor air concentrations shown in the table in the credit language. However, for this option you must follow the testing procedures of the ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2007 and X7.1-2007 standard, also conducted by an independent laboratory. (See the Guidelines on ANSI/BIFMA Testing Procedures in the Documentation Toolkit for more detail on testing requirements.) See the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) – Indoor Advantage Gold website for a list of tested furniture—see Resources. There are other independent labs that test to this standard, but none that publicly publish results.


  • For Options 2, contact the product manufacturer to see if it has already tested the products you are interested in, or are willing to have the product tested. This way, you avoid having to go through the process yourself. If they will not have their products tested you can contact the testing facilities and determine whether to arrange for your own testing. 


  • SCS provides independent evaluations of furniture systems and confirms products that conform to the ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2007 and X7.1-2007 standards. Check out their website for a list of certified products. (See Resources.)


  • The cost premium is typically minimal for Greenguard and SCS Indoor Advantage Gold furniture.


  • Research the cost of having the furniture tested through either testing methods. 

Schematic Design

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  • If you are having the furniture tested, schedule it in the beginning stages of design. Research the time required for testing. 


  • If you have the furniture tested, be sure to require the independent laboratory to date and sign the test results and supporting calculations. For LEED documentation, the laboratory must provide details of the procedure including the specific test protocol, the emissions factors from the tests, calculations used to determine emission limits, air exchange rates, and proof that the emission limits do not exceed LEED requirements. (See the Documentation Toolkit for more details on testing procedures.) 


  • Manufacturers are required to recertify products annually. There is a risk that a product certified one year might not be certified in the next year. Be sure to check that the furniture purchased matches the furniture researched, including the test date for your LEED certification period.


  • Develop a furniture package early on, and determine if there will be a cost premium. 

Construction Documents

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  • Include specific products in the construction specifications if you can. Otherwise, include furniture certification or testing requirements into both product and submittal requirements. List them in drawings and finish schedules as well—but make sure that if you make any changes, those changes are made consistently wherever the information appears. 

Construction

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  • If the owner purchases the furniture, make sure the owner’s purchasing agents know the standards required for credit compliance. 


  • Track the manufacturer, product line, earliest date of manufacture, latest date of manufacture, and test date or certification period for all furniture that must be compliant. 


  • Fill out the LEED Online credit form with your list of products and include: 

    • manufacturer,
    • product line,
    • earliest date of manufacture,
    • latest date of manufacture,
    • and test date or certification period for all furniture to be located in classrooms.  

  • Upload product certification or testing details and calculations to LEED Online. 


  • It is easiest to track your furniture purchases as they are ordered. Every time you order furniture for classrooms, record all the necessary information on a tracking sheet (including manufacturer, product line, earliest date of manufacture, latest date of manufacture, and test date or certification period for all furniture to be located in classrooms. This way, you won’t need to spend a lot of time going through order forms immediately before LEED certification. 

Operations & Maintenance

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  • Keep a record of compliant furniture so that procurement staff can use this documentation to make future purchases. 

  • USGBC

    Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations

    IEQ Credit 4.5: Low-Emitting Materials—Furniture and Furnishings

    1 Point

    Intent

    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.

    Requirements

    Option 1


    Classroom furniture and seating must meet the emissions requirements of the GREENGUARD Children and Schools standards, with testing conducted in an independent third-party air quality testing laboratory.


    Option 2


    Calculated indoor air concentrations shall be less than or equal to those established in Table 1 for classroom furniture and seating when determined by a procedure based on ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2007and ANSI/BIFMA X7.1-2007 testing protocol, when modeled using the classroom scenario 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, with testing conducted in an independent third-party air quality testing laboratory.

    Table 1. Maximum indoor air concentrations


    Note


    Wood and agrifiber productsAgrifiber products are made from agricultural fiber. Examples include particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), wheatboard, and strawboard. shall be treated as walls within the classroom scenario when determining compliance.

    Potential Technologies & Strategies

    Clearly specify requirements for product testing and/or certification in the construction documents. Some programs that offer verification of the cited standard for Options 1-4 and 6 are Indoor Advantage Gold, GREENGUARD Children & Schools, the Resilient Floor Covering Institute’s FloorScore program, the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus program, and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools product list. Indoor Advantage Gold offers verification of the BIFMA standard cited in Option C of the Furniture Option.

Organizations

Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) — Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers

Support on incorporating LEED requirements into specifications. 

Publications

BIFMA International

Option 3 standard for testing protocol.  


EPAs Environmental Technology Verification Test Protocol – Large Chamber Test Protocol for Measuring Emissions of VOCs and Aldehydes

Option 2 standard for testing protocol. 


Greenguard Environmental Institute

Option 1 certification requirements for Children & Schools. 


CHPS Publications and Resources

CHPS has provided a Low-Emitting Materials Table that gives an overview of products that meet the CA section 01350, Greenguard Children &Schools certification and Indoor Advantage Gold by SCS.


Scientific Certification Systems – Indoor Advantage Gold

This website provides a list of furniture that has been certified under the ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2007 and X7.1-2007 standards.

Letter to Contractor for MR and IEQ Credits

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.

Low-Emitting Furniture Reporting Form

Provide a tracking sheet like this to subcontractors to record the low-emitting qualities of the furniture they purchase.

Product Cut Sheets

This sample cut sheet with annotations shows how this student desk complies with Option 1 of IEQc4.5, showing the certification period and certification to Greenguard Children and Schools. Look for similar documentation for other options as well.

Materials Calculator

Teams can use this tool to track all materials across applicable 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.

LEED Online Forms: Schools-2009 IEQ

Sample LEED Online forms for all rating systems and versions are available on the USGBC website.

Testing Reports

Refer to a test report like this to verify that furniture specified for the project meets testing requirements for the period in which it was manufactured.

15 Comments

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Todd Reed Daylight Designer 7group
Apr 01 2015
LEEDuser Expert
15184 Thumbs Up

Using EQc4.5 as an ID credit.

If a LEED for Schools project earns EQc4.1, 4.2,4.3, and 4.4; can they then use IDc 4.5 as an ID credit?

I bring this up because we have had discussion in the office that this was allowed for a project but cannot find anything written officially that allows this. I know it states can only earn 4 of the 6, but nothing is noted about using one as an ID credit.

It's one of those credits, especially for schools, that you think you could do this for.

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Ema S
Sep 17 2014
Guest
651 Thumbs Up

Test Date or Certification Start Date

This credit form asks for 3 dates; earliest date of manufacture, latest date of manufacture, and test date or certification start date. When looking at the Greenguard Certificate of Compliance, the only date I see is the "period," which, for example may say 05/2007-05/2014. I am assuming this is the earliest and latest date of manufacture. What date do we use for the test date or certification start date? Is it the same as the earliest date of manufacture? Thanks for any help you can give to clarify.

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Johannes Gellrich
Feb 19 2014
Guest
240 Thumbs Up

Included Furniture

Hello all,
I have problems to determine the necessary extent of furniture:
The guide says "Classroom furniture including all Student and teacher desks [...]".
Do we only have to implement desks, tables and seats, or all furniture that is in a classroom (e.g. shelfs, cabinets)?
How should special classrooms like laboratory spaces and learning kitchens be treated?

Thank you for your help!
Johannes

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Suzanne Allerton Architect W2A Design Group
Feb 09 2012
Guest
1508 Thumbs Up

SCS Gold Certificate

Will the above certificate in place of one type furniture item be
acceptable for this credit?

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Josh Jacobs Technical Information & Public Affairs Manager, UL Environment Feb 17 2012 Guest 6877 Thumbs Up

SCS' Indoor Advantage Gold certification requirements are compliance with the California Department of Health Services Standard Practice for the Testing of VOCs from Various Sources using Small-Scale Environmental Chambers emission requirements. So yes, this should be allowed to show compliance.

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Suzanne Allerton Architect W2A Design Group
Jan 17 2012
Guest
1508 Thumbs Up

Low Emitting Furnishings under LEED for Schools 2007

We have used Green Guard For Schools furnishings and have
certificates with dates etc. However the template also asks for a letter.
Is this mandatory or will the certificates get this credit for Schools 2007?

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Josh Jacobs Technical Information & Public Affairs Manager, UL Environment Jan 17 2012 Guest 6877 Thumbs Up

For transparency sake - GREENGUARD is part of UL Enviornment, whom I work for.

We have never seen anything besides the GREENGUARD certificates or a test lab report needed for Schools IEQ c4.5. Since you have the printable certificates from the website, you should be fine.

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Bruce Maine Sustainable Design Consultant
Jun 13 2011
Guest
1090 Thumbs Up

Schools IEQ c4.5

Someone added a LEED submittal in our master specifications for Projection Screens that are Greenguard certified. Its my understanding that projection screens, or any product in Division 11, does not qualify for IEQ credits. Is this correct?

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Reinhard Oppl Independent consultant on VOC issues, formerly with Eurofins Product Testing A/S Jun 13 2011 Guest 2575 Thumbs Up

Projection screens are not furniture, nor walls, correct? No then they do not fall under any of the included categories. Sorry for that.

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Abena Darden Project Director Thornton Tomasetti / Sustainability
Jun 07 2010
LEEDuser Member
4607 Thumbs Up

LOW-EMITTING FURNITURE FOR BD+C

Under NC it was possible to earn an ID point for Low-emitting Furniture based on specific 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-approved requirements. Anyone heard of being allowed to do so under BD+C for new construction (not Schools)? As we know, GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). is in the process of re-thinking their "no precedent" policy with regard to CIRs, especially those that have been asked and answered. [As an aside, in our office we had to ask these 2 questions twice (for 2 separate projects!) that had been and continue to be allowed: PVs on adjacent buildings for EA 2 and lead/asbestos applicability under SS3. Both were answered in the affirmative. I had a personal email from GBCI saying that these types of questions would eventually be exempt from precedent setting limitations. The problem was that issues like these were not picked up and folded into LEED v3 2009, so we end up having to ask them again.] Enough harping. What can anyone share about low-emitting furniture in BD+C NC?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jun 10 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

I believe it is generally understood that taking a credit from a rating system other than LEED-NC and using it to earn IDc1 under NC is an acceptable path. I would assume that this would apply to this situation. It's worth noting, however, that in LEED for Schools, you can only choose to earn 4 of 6 of the IEQc4 credits. so that may also carry over to LEED-NC.

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Matthew VanSweden Community and Environmental Advocate, Integrated Architecture Jul 20 2010 Guest 956 Thumbs Up

if you do attempt this as an ID credit under NC - do you have to include the systems furnitureSystems furniture includes panel-based workstations comprising modular interconnecting panels, hang-on components, and drawer and filing components or a free-standing grouping of furniture items designed to work in concert. in the applicable MR credits?

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Nadav Malin USGBC LEED Faculty, President, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 24 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

That's a really good question. You would certainly be safer to include it, so I'd say to do it if you can. If you didn't you might still get by, but it's harder to say. I wonder if anyone else has experience with that....

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Jill Watkins Owner, Watkins Design Works, LLC Jul 16 2013 LEEDuser Member 150 Thumbs Up

Is there a reason why USGBC only allows 4 out of these 6 credits in LEED for Schools? And why could we not get ID points for achieving the other 2? Just curious.....

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 16 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

I think the simple answer is that on a 100-point scale there are only so many points to allocate, so choices have to be made. USGBC used an impact-based system to allocate points for LEED 2009. The existence of these credits for LEED for Schools has put these choices on the radar for a lot of teams, and some voluntarily pursue all six, so there is good that has come from that, even if LEED doesn't go further in point allocation here.

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