Greenguard to Strengthen IAQ in LEED

by bkrigbaum@solagroup.com








(Atlanta, Ga.) — In response to recently proposed changes to
the LEED Rating System, the GREENGUARD
Environmental Institute
has
launched a public campaign urging the U.S.
Green Building Council
to
strengthen its credit requirements for low-emitting interiors.

Despite the widely-publicized findings of the April 2010 report by Environment
and Human Health, Inc.
—which
criticized the LEED rating system for ignoring the health impacts of
product emissions—the proposed changes to IEQ Credit 4 (known
as “EQ Credit: Low-Emitting Interiors”) fail to
make product emissions requirements more stringent. In fact, as
currently written, the credit allows for infinite emissions of hundreds
of potentially harmful chemicals.

“One of the biggest problems with the proposed credit is that
it calls for limits on only a fraction of all potentially hazardous
compounds—those identified by California as having
‘Chronic Reference Exposure Levels,’ or
CRELs,” says Mark Rossolo, director of public affairs at the
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. “Unfortunately, there are
hundreds, if not thousands, of other potentially toxic compounds and
complex mixtures that don’t have CRELs but that still get
released into the air from products. These and other oversights in the
proposed credit language can put human health and well-being in serious
jeopardy.”

Another major problem, Rossolo adds, is the credit’s failure
to account for the total level of all volatile organic compounds
combined, known as TVOC. Since the potential health implications of
exposure to chemicals that have combined, or synergized, are not fully
understood, a limit on TVOC would serve as a precautionary measure.
Moreover, a limit on TVOC would help minimize exposure to the myriad
other chemicals that don’t have CRELs.

“As the global leader in sustainable building practices, the
USGBC has a moral and professional responsibility to ensure that LEED
raises the bar as high as possible—and that means removing
all stops to protecting the health of green building
occupants.”

Other drawbacks of the proposed credit include the introduction of
complex calculations (which project teams will be responsible for
completing), inconsistent chemical emissions criteria (which will lead
to confusion and varying degrees of indoor air pollution), and
inadequate test methods.

The ‘I Pledge’ Campaign, launched by the GREENGUARD
Environmental Institute, encourages green building and design
professionals to take action by submitting a public comment to the
USGBC in favor of more stringent product emissions requirements.

Supporters of the campaign can visit www.greenguard.org/pledge
and commit to publicly voicing their concerns over the proposed LEED
rating system changes. All they have to do is copy
GREENGUARD’s template letter and follow the simple submission
instructions online. Or, if they prefer, they can write their own
comments echoing GREENGUARD’s concerns.

“Speaking out is free and easy to do, and it’s for
a very important cause,” Rossolo says.
“We’ve got to ensure that LEED upholds one of the
most critical tenets of sustainability: protecting human
health.” 


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