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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 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.

IEQ Management Prior to Occupancy LEED Logo
  Moisture Control
  Contaminant Control
  Carbon Monoxide
  Total VOCs
Occupant Comfort

Thermal Comfort

IEQ Management Prior to Occupancy

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.


Moisture Control
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 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.
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Moisture Meters from SKC

Tramex Moisture Encounter Plus Tramex Moisture Encounter Plus
The Moisture Encounter Plus provides non-destructive accurate readings of the percentage of moisture measurements in wood block, roofing, plaster, brick, and most other building materials. Three sensitive ranges make measurements quick and easy.


Contaminant Control
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 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
To meet the air contaminant criterion, buildings must not exceed the maximum concentrations for the designated contaminants listed in the table below.

Contaminant Maximum Concentration
Formaldehyde 27 parts per billion (ppb)
Particulates as PM10 50 micrograms per cubic meter (g/m3)
Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) 500 g/m3
Carbon Monoxide 9 parts per million (ppm) and no greater than 2 ppm above outdoor levels
4-Phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH)* 6.5 g/m3
* This test is only required if carpets and fabrics with styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) latex backing are installed.

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.

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SKC Samplers for Formaldehyde

SKC Formaldehyde Sampling Tubes
Low background, high capacity, and low pressure drop make SKC formaldehyde tubes extremely useful for both environmental and industrial hygiene applications. In addition, the DNPH chemistry lends itself to monitoring other aldehydes simultaneously in the workplace environment.
SKC UMEx100 Passive Sampler SKC UMEX 100 Passive Sampler
The UMEX 100 Passive Sampler for formaldehyde uses tape impregnated with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) to detect formaldehyde at levels as low as 2 ppb. The UMEX Passive Sampler's accuracy exceeds OSHA standards and meets specifications of OSHA Method 1007.


Carbon Monoxide
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.

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Carbon Monoxide Monitor from SKC

Pac 5000 Single Gas Monitor/Logger Dräger PAC 5500 Single Gas Monitor/Logger
Designed for easy personal detection at hazardous gas levels, the Dräger PAC 5500 features a renewable lifespan with replaceable battery, sensor, and filter. The PAC 5500 is specially designed to allow gas to enter the sensor from several directions to reduce the possibility of blocked airflow to the sensor. The PAC 5500 features an event logger for up to 60 events and is available for oxygen, hydrogen sulfide or carbon monoxide.


Total VOCs
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 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.

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SKC Samplers for Total VOCs
SKC Thermal Desorption Tubes
SKC sorbent technology has produced superior materials for the collection of organic compounds for thermal desorption. Thermal desorption techniques offer the advantage of greatly improved analytical sensitivity. Because a solvent is not used, the collected sample is not diluted and, in most cases, analytical recovery is so close to 100% that desorption efficiency corrections are not required.
SKC ULTRA III Sampler Cat. No. 690-101 SKC ULTRA III Sampler
The patented* ULTRA III samples by diffusion and provides low ppb to ppt detection of compounds, including semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). ULTRA III Passive Samplers are an economical alternative to SUMMA canisters for EPA TO-15 sampling and show excellent sampling correlation in side-by-side studies with canisters. Operation is as easy as sliding the cover open to start sampling and closing it to stop sampling.

US Patent No. 6,607,581


4-Phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH)
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 for more information.

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SKC Samplers for 4-Phenylcyclohexene

SKC Thermal Desorption Tubes
SKC sorbent technology has produced superior materials for the collection of organic compounds for thermal desorption. Thermal desorption techniques offer the advantage of greatly improved analytical sensitivity. Because a solvent is not used, the collected sample is not diluted and, in most cases, analytical recovery is so close to 100% that desorption efficiency corrections are not required.
SKC Air Sampling Pumps
SKC AirChek® sample pumps are powerful partners with sample media in the SKC GreenChek Group.


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).

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SKC Samplers for PM10

SKC Personal Modular Impactors (PMIs) for PM10
The patented* SKC single-stage Personal Modular Impactors (PMIs) are designed for the highly efficient collection of PM10. The sampler is easy to use with a removable filter cassette and pre-oiled impaction disc. The 25-mm pre-oiled impaction disc mounts directly on top of the filter cassette and reduces particle bounce for high collection efficiency.

* U.S. Patent No. 7,334,453

PEM: Personal Environmental Monitor SKC Personal Environmental Monitor (PEM) for PM10
The Personal Environmental Monitor (PEM) is a small, lightweight, impaction device used with a personal sample pump to provide effective sampling of PM10 in indoor air. Personal exposure is determined through gravimetirc analysis for particle mass and chemical analysis for specific compounds.
SKC Air Sampling Pumps
SKC AirChek® sample pumps are powerful partners
with sample media in the SKC GreenChek Group.

Occupant Comfort
LEED certified green buildings must provide a comfortable environment that promotes the well-being and productivity of building occupants. Two critical components of a healthy, productive indoor environment are lighting and thermal comfort.

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.
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Light Meters from SKC
Heavy-duty Light Meter with 4 Light Settings Heavy-duty Light Meter with 4 Light Settings
The Heavy-duty light meter from SKC includes 4 light settings (tungsten/daylight, fluorescent, sodium, and mercury), a built-in micro-processor, and data hold and record/recall Min, Max, and Avg. Zero re-calibration required. Footcandle Ranges: 200, 2000, 5000. Lux Ranges: 2000, 20,000, 50,000

Thermal Comfort
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 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.

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Thermal Comfort Monitor from SKC

QUESTemp° 36 Thermal Environment Monitor/Logger
The QUESTemp° 36 Area Thermal Environment Monitor/Datalogger simplifies heat stress management by providing real-time guidance on stay times and work/rest regimens. Highly versatile, the QUESTemp° 36 integral humidity sensor provides data for calculation of heat index and Humidex. Add an optional detachable air velocity probe to extend QUESTemp° 36 applications to indoor thermal comfort monitoring.


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 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.

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Environmental Quality Monitors from SKC

EVM-7 Environmental Monitor EVM Environmental Monitors
Monitor multiple air quality hazards/parameters using one instrument with the 3M/Quest® EVM-7 environmental monitor. EVM-7 simultaneously measures particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with PID, toxic gas, carbon dioxide, relative humidity, temperature, and air velocity (with accessory probe). Two instruments in one means lower cost of ownership and elimination of multiple instruments. .
The portable HAZ-SCANNER IEMS indoor environmental monitoring station is designed to measure critical parameters for indoor environmental assessments, LEED green building certifications, school zone measurements, job task analysis, and occupational health and safety compliance. The HAZ-SCANNER IEMS displays real-time readings with datalogging capabilities. Configure IEMS for up to 14 simultaneous critical indoor measurements. Optional wireless data acquisition for continuous unattended sampling up to one mile is available. Easily download data to a PC or Mac and create compliance-ready graphical reports with the supplied software.

This page was last modified July 31, 2012
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