LEED IAQ Testing – Lessons in the World of Green Building
RGA Environmental, Inc. has had the pleasure of working on several LEED awarded building projects over the last few years. In addition to our core hazardous materials consulting services that are utilized at the beginning of a renovation project we get the thrill of swooping into see often the first glimpses of a nearly complete tenant suite or building with all the inspiration of green building aglow. The client, architect, construction manager, or owner often is present to boast the merits of new lighting controls, ventilation design, and space planning.
Under all of that thoughtful design and conscientious construction of something truly inspiring – a place that all of us would like to live or work are the devilish details. In the final days of a LEED project the building team is anxious to obtain and verify every credit originally sought during pre-planning to assure the project meets its LEED goal. Pre-occupancy Indoor Air Quality is just 1 credit in the field of 100 plus that is available to validate a successful green building design and construction. The indoor air quality testing is often chosen by the building team if time constraints don’t allow for the required flush-out volumes needed to achieve the alternative paths for IEQ Credit 3.2.
Diligence will be rewarded with another point on the stack amassed already with some noteworthy precautions:
- Verify new products and finishes with suppliers before installation for VOC emissions and formaldehyde. The formaldehyde standard is roughly half of the value for LEED 2009 compared to V 2.0.
- Be careful with the use of products that have VOC emissions of any type during punch list touch-ups and preoccupancy cleaning.
- Assure all finishes are installed including furniture such as systems furniture and chairs prior to testing.
- Prepare the space to operate as intended for occupancy with the HVAC set for the minimal outside air contribution.
- Keep activities in the space low as feasible during testing.
The IEQ testing does need to be completed during normal occupancy hours for the new space and with a minimum testing duration of 4-hours. The testing results can be expedited as needed to meet a project milestone or leave an opportunity for retesting if one or more of the parameters exceed the LEED thresholds.
Every building project is unique so the variables for indoor air quality testing need to be carefully considered to assure the results are representative of the space evaluated. RGA has decades of experience performing indoor air quality assessments. Our breath of experience and tight relationships with our laboratory vendors allows RGA to customize these evaluations to fit within physical and time constraints of most any LEED aspiring project.
Ken Pilgrim, Project Manager – Emeryville, CA