When the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 2009 rating system expired on October 31, 2016, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) transitioned to its more rigorous LEED Version 4 (v4), which was launched in November 2013.
“LEED v4 moves the market in a whole new direction,” said USGBC president, CEO and founding chair, Rick Fedrizzi, in an article for Green Building News. “LEED v4 is the LEED of the future, where we challenge the marketplace to go further, to make the next great leap toward better, cleaner, healthier buildings where people live and work.”
Buildings can earn credit toward LEED certification by using certain products, including architectural coatings that meet the rating system’s Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) requirements for low-emitting materials.
Several LEED v4-compliant coatings were used during the construction of the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, which now stands as the “greenest arena in the country.” all photos courtesy Tnemec Company Inc.
According to LEED v4, the intention of the low-emitting materials credit is “to reduce concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health, productivity and the environment.” The credit covers volatile organic compound (VOC) content of materials, VOC emissions into indoor air, testing methods used to evaluate emission levels and exterior-applied coatings for healthcare and school projects only.
Under LEED v4, paints and coatings must meet applicable VOC content limits of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2007 Suggested Control Measure (SCM) for Architectural Coatings or the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1113. Manufacturers are responsible for disclosing VOC content based on testing methods that are specified in the applicable regulation.
The low-emitting credit also pertains to coatings applied on site to the exterior of healthcare and school projects only. To qualify, exterior-applied coatings must meet the VOC limits of CARB or SCAQMD Rule 1113.
The emissions evaluation of interior paint, coatings and adhesives, as well as flooring, ceiling and wall systems and insulation, is a new LEED requirement for achieving the credit for low-emitting materials. Testing protocols for these materials are covered in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of VOC Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers Version 1.1.
Newly tested products include Series 241 Ultra-Tread MVT, a polyurethane-modified concrete designed to reduce the effects of moisture vapor transmission (MVT), and Series 248 EverThane, an extremely hard moisture-cured urethane finish coating for resinous flooring systems, both manufactured by Tnemec Company Inc.
Tnemec’s polyurethane-modified concrete, Series 241 Ultra-Tread MVT, was applied to this laboratory floor alongside other coatings formulated to provide advanced protection with low VOCs.
At present, Tnemec has more than 20 products that have been emissions tested in accordance with CDPH Standard Method v1.1, according to the company's Jennifer Gleisberg, CDT, LEED Green Associate and inside sales manager.
“At Tnemec, we were prepared for LEED v4 when it became mandatory last year,” said Gleisberg. “We had several products approved before the deadline, and we now have even more with the addition of several high-performance floor coatings.”
Among the LEED v4-compliant coatings are several frequently specified products, including Series 94-H20 Hydro-Zinc, Series 394 PerimePrime, Series 27WB Typoxy, Series 156 Enviro-Crete, Series 971 Aerolon Acrylic, Series 1028 and 1029 Enduratone, Series 1080 and 1081 Endura-Shield, Series 256 Excellathane, Series 297 Environ-Glaze, Series 1224 Epoxoline WB, Series 115 Uni-Bond DF and Series 1070V and 1071V Fluoronar. Each product was emissions tested by UL Environmental, a leading safety and certification company. Testing measured the emission rates of VOCs from product samples in tightly controlled environmental chambers over a period of 14 days (336 hours). A model was used to predict the concentrations of pollutants on inside air.
“By working with suppliers to source the most environmentally preferable materials for its coatings, Tnemec has reduced the amount of solvent in its formulations,” Gleisberg confirmed. “The result is lower emissions without compromising the quality, durability and performance customers rely on.”
More than 90 products that have VOC content of less than 100 grams per liter are available from Tnemec, representing more than half of the company’s product line. These low-VOC coatings maintain their performance while complying with CARB and SCAQMD regulatory requirements.
High-performance epoxies and polyurethanes applied to the Golden 1 Center have been emissions tested in accordance with CDPH Standard Method v1.1.
Points toward certification are also available for Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which are part of the Materials and Resources (MR) credits in LEED v4. HDP credits can be achieved by using 20 different permanently installed products from at least five different manufacturers.
The intention of HPDs, as stated in LEED v4, is “to reward project teams for selecting products for which the chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried using an accepted methodology and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances.”
Gleisberg reported that Tnemec is actively working to incorporate the detailed product information required in HPDs with the intention of publishing declarations for a select grouping of products.
“Due to the number of raw materials Tnemec uses in finished products, this is a lengthy process, which takes time to develop,” Gleisberg acknowledged. Meanwhile, Tnemec coating consultants continue to drive change in the construction community with up-to-date knowledge of environmental regulations and green initiatives.
“Tnemec’s network of coating consultants is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to environmental issues,” Gleisberg said. “Our entire company has always strived to offer high-performance coating systems that meet the air quality management district requirements, and we have been proactive throughout the evolution of indoor air quality standards, including the lead-up to LEED v4.”