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LEEDv4 IAQ Testing – New Credit Highlights for IEQ

by / Wednesday, 12 October 2016 / Published in 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. A few 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 more 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 the 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
    • 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 If there is evidence that the 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 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 will most likely prove 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 nearly as robust as WELL Building Standard Verification Testing, we see LEED v4 IAQ testing as an important piece of a high-performance building puzzle.

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

2 Responses to “LEEDv4 IAQ Testing – New Credit Highlights for IEQ”

  1. Alex says :

    This response from David Sasse:

    “1) The 500 ng/l limit is a recommendation, the other limits are levels enforceable and known to be acutely toxic, especially in an occupational setting.

    2) If we know an individual compound, we can determine its acutely toxic level fairly accurately through lab tests.
    Sometimes these levels are very low, like for benzene. Or fairly high, like for ethanol.
    Some compounds do not have published PEL’s because they are not specifically toxic.

    3) If we are measuring generic TVOC, we are not determining which compounds are in the sample, just the generic level of all the VOC’s combined in that sample. Since we cannot tell what compounds are in the TVOC sample, the recommendation is to keep the level at 500 ng/l or less.

    4) We are also looking at acute vs. chronic exposure. Acutely the level to poison you may be quite high, say 7,000 ng/l, but long term exposure may cause health effects at much lower levels. i.e. cigarettes, a pack a day will not cause any toxic effects right away, but has many long term effects from cancer to emphysema to heart disease. It would take a lot more cigarette smoke to poison you acutely.

    5) Here is another analogy, during prohibition, lots of illegal alcohol was tainted with methanol, which is very toxic and can cause blindness in low quantities. Ethanol is also toxic, but at much higher levels. If you only know this bottles contains xxx ppm of “Total Alcohol” your recommendation might be to consume a very low quantity, say 500 ppb. If you know it was 100% ethanol, you may be ok with 7,000 ppb.

    Its the difference between the generic and the specific. “

  2. Mauro Ferri says :

    I would like to ask about a point that seems contradictory: in the limits tables the TVOCs have a value of 500 ug/m3 while some of the single target compounds have limits way over this limit (i.e. hexane 7000, iso-propanol 7000, 1,4-dioxane 3000, and so forth). how can the sum of all the compounds (TVOC) have a limit that is so low compared to the singles?
    i can be compliant to single compounds limit with,fir example, 3000 of hexane which will be though non compliant for the TVOC limit; generally, summation limits are (much) greater than single compounds limits.
    Thanks in advance

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