Healthy Buildings Helps Pioneer IAQ Testing in LEED Version 4
Now with LEED Version 4, your projects can earn two points by testing IAQ after new construction or tenant improvements
Healthy Buildings pioneered the initial testing method IEQc 3.2 for measuring the indoor air quality in finished new construction and tenant improvements. We helped to develop a test method which has gained widespread acceptance within the industry as a benchmark for IAQ. We have completed this method in 644 projects worldwide to date.
Recognizing the importance of human health in finished buildings, LEED Version 4 has doubled the credits available to 2 points for IAQ testing, favoring the alternative “flush-out” method which only earns 1 point and often proves impractical and expensive to administer. Healthy Buildings continued to work with the USGBC to field test and verify the new Version 4 method. In late 2014, Healthy Buildings worked with Integral Engineering, one of the greenest mechanical engineering companies in the industry, to earn these points in one of the first Version 4 projects in the country. Though more complex, we have established the feasibility of this method and proven the ability of construction teams to claim two points with a single day of testing through our in-house lab analysis. Contact our team for your LEED Version 4 project.
Though similar to the air testing option in the LEED 2009 indoor environmental quality credit EQ 3.2, LEED version 4 has increased the testing requirements by including an additional air analysis for 32 target VOCs listed in the California Department of Public Health’s Standard method v1.1, Table 4-1. The target VOC list was empirically developed from analytics recovered during environmental chamber testing of common building products (floor coverings, wall coverings, paint, acoustical ceilings, etc.). Based upon the testing results, a non-cancer chronic reference exposure level (CREL) was developed by Cal/EPA OEHHA for each VOC. These levels represent inhalation concentrations to which long-term exposure would not be expected to cause serious adverse systemic effects in healthy individuals. This increased complexity has been addressed by increasing the testing credit option from one to two points. To allow greater testing flexibility, the choice of GCMS analytical protocol was expanded to include methods from ASTM and ISO in addition to the EPA.
The inclusion of the CREL VOCs represented a unique challenge for laboratory analysis. Many of the CREL VOCs are not typically included in GCMS analysis and isolating them was proving to be technically challenging. After conferring with industry peers including individuals on the USGBC committee responsible for implanting changes to the credit, a solution was reached. Analytic masses could be reported as toluene equivalents. Calculations are performed by summing the integrated total ionic chromatogram (TIC) areas in a sample less the TIC area of the internal standard (toluene) over the retention time interval. The ratio of summed area to the area of toluene is calculated. This value is multiplied by the internal standard mass to obtain the toluene equivalent sample mass. The mass of each detected target compound is converted to an air concentration (mg/m3) and compared to its allowable CREL VOC concentrations. This method is very similar to the method the lab uses for TVOC analysis, another LEED test requirement, except that individual CREL compounds are identified. Both tests are analyzed by EPA Method TO-17.
The result has been a step forward for the EQ 3.2 method, increasing technical rigor and credibility of results, along with the inclusion of compounds relevant to human health and well-being in the built environment.