LEEDv4 IAQ Testing – New Credit Highlights for IEQ

/ / Environmental Testing, Green Building Consulting

LEEDv4 IAQ Testing Requirements

Industrial hygienists across the US have been watching the USGBC as they’ve updated the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Testing Credit for Post-Construction. LEEDv4 IAQ Testing requirements have changed since LEEDv2009. Many health and healthy building advocates hoped they would lower the allowable levels of formaldehyde, but due to industry uproar that did not happen. Perhaps most impactful is the new way of calculating how many testing locations are required per building. Some buildings will require fewer testing locations, while most buildings will be required to test up to five times more locations than in LEEDv2009. We remain advocates of pre-occupancy IAQ testing and hope that more projects will pursue this credit in V4, however, the increased number of required test locations will add costs for most building types.

LEEDv4 IAQ Testing Credit Highlights

  • New Credit Name: EQ Credit 4: Indoor Air Quality Assessment
  • Testing added for ozone – can be with hand held meter OR by industrial hygiene method
  • Testing also added for 35 additional contaminants, though these are often included in most “VOC scan” tests anyway. Limits table found below, or at the USGBC’s website. It’s the difference between just looking at Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) and TVOC plus more details on these specific chemicals.
  • Note: VOC maximum allowable limits are much lower for healthcare projects (200 vs. 500 ug/m3)
  • Note: For formaldehyde & VOCs, air quality testing laboratories need to be accredited under ISO/IEC 17025
  • Timing: After construction ends and before occupancy, but under ventilation conditions typical for occupancy for that time
  • Quantifying number of required air testing samples:
    • Select testing locations with the least ventilation but greatest concentration of VOCs and other contaminants. Testing must be completed by an appropriately accredited professional. Use current versions of ASTM or ISO methods. The number of testing locations depends on the size of the building and number of ventilation systems but must include all occupied spaces. If sampling is used, all space types must be represented (e.g., office and classroom). Use the following methodology to determine how many air testing locations are required.
    • Test at least one location per ventilation system for each occupied space.
    • There must be a minimum of one test per.
    • The locations selected for testing must represent the worst-case zones where the highest concentrations of contaminants of concern are likely to accumulate.
    • For offices, retail, schools, hospitality, and multifamily residential projects, test areas no larger than 5,000 square feet (465 square meters).
    • For warehouses or large open spaces in other building types (e.g., ballrooms in hospitality, gymnasiums in schools), a limit of 50,000 square feet (4,654 square meters) may be used. If there is evidence that air in the space is well mixed and sources of contaminants of concern are uniform, project teams may test a single location in that space.
    • Determine whether the project includes spaces (e.g., offices, school classrooms, or multifamily residential units) that are identical in their construction, finishes, configuration, square footage, and HVAC. If so, project teams may sample identical spaces by testing one in seven.
    • If the one sampled space fails, all seven must be tested. This may lead to unexpected change orders.
LEEDv4 IAQ Testing Requirements

LEEDv4 IAQ Testing Requirements

LEEDv4 IAQ Testing Summary

For those familiar with LEED IAQ Testing the changes in LEED v4 are not too substantial. The most significant change is likely to be the increased number of testing locations required for offices, retail, schools, hospitality, and multifamily residential projects. There is no better way to provide quality control over the design/build team than to perform verification testing after construction. When a team knows that IAQ testing will be performed, we have seen the designers and builders pay more close attention to IAQ details. While it’s not as robust as WELL Building Standard Verification Testing, we see LEED v4 IAQ testing as an important piece of the high-performance building puzzle.

Let us know if you’d like to discuss an upcoming LEED IAQ Testing project.