LEED Green Building Certification
A Role for Health and Safety Professionals
Green buildings are those that have a minimal impact on the environment and are healthy for building occupants. Through effective design and management of resources, green buildings are also more cost-effective and profitable to operate.
To assist in the development and evaluation of green buildings, a certification program was developed in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED® Green Building Certification Program is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings (see www.usgbc.org). LEED represents Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. In the LEED certification program, buildings earn points for meeting specific criterion. Third party verification is used to certify buildings.
One of the environmental categories for LEED 2009 certification is Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). This is an area in which industrial hygiene, environmental, and safety professionals are uniquely qualified. Professionals can earn LEED Professional Accreditation by demonstrating knowledge of green building practices and principles through an exam offered by the Green Building Council.
SKC presents critical information on the IEQ criteria contained in LEED
for New Construction and Major Renovations (Version 2.2). Along with
technical details for each parameter, SKC describes sampling instruments
and media from its GreenChek Group that can be used for IEQ assessments
in LEED testing.
During construction of a building, there should be a management plan to protect the indoor environment. Specifically, steps should be taken to protect the ventilation system and control pollutant sources and pathways.
Building materials such as insulation, carpeting, and wood should be protected from moisture that can lead to future mold problems. The Western Wood Products Association offers some technical advice on this matter in their technical guide at www.wwpa.org/moldff2.htm. They suggest that the best long-term protection against mold growth is to keep moisture content of wood below 20%. Moisture meters commonly used by health and safety professionals performing mold surveys can be used to evaluate performance in this criterion.
After construction, but prior to occupancy, steps must be taken to reduce indoor air contaminants. LEED procedures offer two options: (1) flush out the building with a large volume of outdoor air at > 60 F and > 60% RH; or (2) conduct air testing for designated contaminants.
LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations (version 2.2) states that air testing performed prior to occupancy should be performed using protocols consistent with the U.S. EPA Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Air Pollutants in Indoor Air. The compendium (available through the Government Printing Office or online at www.arb.ca.gov/research/ indoor/methods.htm) was published in 1990. Professionals should ensure currently available equipment meets the performance requirements of these 1990 methods.
Contaminant Control: Maximum Levels
The EPA air pollutants in indoor air compendium specifies formaldehyde collection media with
2,4-Dinitrophenylhydrazine (2,4-DNPH) chemistry and laboratory analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Compendium Method IP-6A uses an active pumped sampling system where formaldehyde is collected on DNPH-treated silica gel tubes using a personal sample pump at flow rates up to 1 L/min. Compendium Method IP-6C calls for a passive sampler or badge containing DNPH-treated filter paper.
EPA Compendium Method IP-3C requires portable personal electrochemical monitors to measure carbon monoxide levels. Users should ensure that monitors are properly calibrated and capable of measuring the low levels required for indoor air monitoring.
EPA Compendium Method IP-1B specifies specialty sorbent tubes to collect total VOCs. These tubes allow collected compounds to be removed from the sorbent material using heat (thermal desorption), rather than liquid solvents. Thermal desorption greatly enhances sensitivity allowing for the measurement of sub-ppb levels of VOCs using gas chromatography (GC).
The original EPA indoor air method describes the use of thermal desorption tubes containing Tenax® sorbent only for active sampling using a personal sample pump. Since publication of this method, there have been significant advancements in sorbents and thermal desorption samplers for VOCs.
Active Sampling Sorbent tubes for thermal desorption are available with newer sorbents that trap target compounds more effectively than Tenax. For example, the U.S. OSHA Technical Center in Utah reports that Chromosorb® 106 sorbent is effective in collecting its top 20 analytes using thermal desorption with GC analysis (see www.osha.gov and search on "ULTRA"). SKC finds graphitized carbon beads, such as Anasorb® GCB1, to be very versatile sorbents with a much higher capacity than Tenax. Health and safety professionals should consult an analytical laboratory or SKC Technical Support for help in selecting the most appropriate sorbent tube for the application.
Passive Sampling Passive Samplers are also available for low-level VOC sampling using thermal desorption and GC analysis. With the patented SKC ULTRA® passive sampler, target chemicals diffuse from the air into the sampler where they collect onto the sorbent. In the laboratory, the sorbent is transferred into a thermal desorption tube for analysis. Just as with sorbent tubes for thermal desorption, an ULTRA passive sampler can be used with a variety of sorbents to trap target compounds.
SKC Samplers for Total VOCs
There is no EPA, OSHA, or NIOSH method published for 4-PCH. Therefore, users may choose to reference EPA Method TO-17, a general method for VOCs in ambient air using sorbent tubes designed for thermal desorption. SKC recommends tubes containing Anasorb GCB1 sorbent for 4-PCH collection.
Using carpets that have no styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) latex backing can eliminate potential exposures to this chemical. See the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus Program at www.carpet-rug.org for more information.
Particulates as PM10
PM10 refers to small airborne particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns or less. To collect this size fraction of particulate matter, EPA Compendium Method IP-10A specifies the use of size-specific impaction. The impactor described is the Personal Environmental Monitor (PEM). A sample pump pulls air through a 37-mm after-filter inside the sampler at flow rates of 2, 4, or 10 L/min depending on the model. The target PM10 is trapped on the filter, while larger particles are trapped on a pre-oiled impaction plate. The sample is analyzed by weighing the dust on the filter.
Since publication of Compendium Method IP-10A, SKC has developed a new personal impactor for this application. The SKC Personal Modular Impactor (PMI) operates on the same principle as the PEM and is used with a personal sample pump at 3 L/min. The PMI has the advantage of pre-oiled disposable impaction substrates that allow for easy sample preparation and cleanup. For performance documentation on the PMI Sampler, see SKC Personal Modular Impactors (PMIs).
SKC Samplers for PM10
Green buildings should provide both adequate lighting and a high degree of individual lighting control to meet individual task needs and preferences. SKC offers light meters with a variety of features to meet many applications. SKC also offers guidance documents on recommended lighting in different environments prepared by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). See Air Sampling Reference and Training Information.
Light Meters from SKC
As with lighting, thermal conditions in a building should be comfortable and have some individual control to meet occupant task needs and preferences. LEED certification requires that buildings meet the conditions for thermal comfort as described in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers Standard 55-2004 (with errata but without addenda, see www.ashrae.org). To assess thermal comfort, health and safety professionals must measure not only air temperature, but also radiant temperature, air speed, and humidity.
The QUESTemp° 36 with air velocity probe is one of the few devices that can measure all the required thermal comfort parameters with one instrument. This versatile unit can also be used for heat stress management for general occupational health and safety.
Thermal Comfort Monitor from SKC
LEED certification requires that a ventilation system be designed to enhance indoor environmental quality and thus contribute to the overall well-being and productivity of building occupants. To meet the criteria, buildings must comply with the minimum requirements stipulated in the ASHRAE 62.1-2007 ventilation standard (with errata but without addenda, see www.ashrae.org). Permanent monitoring systems must be installed that provide feedback on the performance of a ventilation system and that alarm when conditions vary by 10% from the system set-point. To continuously monitor the amount of fresh air available to occupants, carbon dioxide monitors must be installed at locations between three and six feet above the floor in densely occupied spaces. In addition, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) must be minimized by prohibiting smoking in the building and by maintaining designated smoking areas.
SKC offers IAQ instruments that measure multiple parameters including air velocity, carbon dioxide, relative humidity, and temperature.
Environmental Quality Monitors from SKC
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