Anyone involved in construction should know more about the LEED Green Building Rating System.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is an internationally recognized building rating and certification system that yields buildings with lower energy and water usage, reduced CO2 emissions, improved indoor environmental quality for the occupants and less impact on their immediate surroundings in particular and natural resources in general. Awareness of and demand for green or high performance buildings is increasing at a rapid pace. Cities across the U.S. have passed or are considering ordinances requiring LEED certification for all new buildings. The LEED certification level required and/or the building type(s) affected varies from municipality to municipality, but the trend is clear and anyone involved in construction should know about the LEED Green Building Rating System.
There Will Be Meetings!
The LEED process promotes and rewards an integrated design process involving as many team members as possible, each of whom will have responsibility for one or more credits. Everyone working on one of these projects needs to have, at least, a familiarity with their role in the grand scheme of things. There will be pre-construction meetings and perhaps pre-bid meetings on projects seeking LEED certification where LEED requirements will be discussed as they relate to the construction site and as they involve the various trades. All meeting attendees need to be able to discuss their part in the project and how their work might affect credit compliance. The following are the credits relevant to wood flooring contractors.
Indoor Environmental Quality
Environmental Quality Prerequisite 2 – Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control – To prevent contamination of the indoor surfaces and systems, the project must be completely non-smoking or permit smoking only in limited protected areas, even during construction. Landlords typically prohibit all smoking during construction except in designated outdoor smoking areas, which must be at least 25 feet from entries, intakes and windows.
EQ Credit 3.1: Construction IAQ Management Plan: During Construction – The project manager will be concerned with anticipating and preventing indoor air quality problems resulting from the construction/renovation process. This is for the comfort and well-being of the construction workers as well as any building occupants. This credit ties in with other credits relating to the environmental quality after construction is complete and the building has been turned over to the owner.
Scheduling of Deliveries – Sequence deliveries of wood and other absorbent materials to follow dirt, dust and VOC producing construction activities in order to reduce exposure to contaminants from other building materials. This will also prevent your flooring from releasing containments into the space. Delivered materials must also be protected from moisture.
Source Control - Your work on the project will likely involve dirt and dust from installation and sanding, and off-gassing from the finishing process and/or any adhesives used. Therefore, your highest dirt/dust producing activities should be scheduled around other construction activities. This could involve your work needing to be performed during “off hours.” The wood finishes and adhesives specified will be low VOCs or no-VOCs.
Pathway Interruption – It is far easier to prevent contamination than to remove it. The project documents may specify a dust containment system. Your work area may be sectioned/sealed off from the rest of the site and be exhausted directly to the outside. Depending on the specifications, this containment might fall under your scope or that of the GC. In any case, you should familiarize yourself and workers with temporary barriers.
Housekeeping – Cleaning activities will need to be performed to control any contaminants generated. Generally for a wood flooring contractor, this is vacuuming. (See MR Credit 2.1 & 2.2 below for disposing of wood waste.)
EQ Credit 3.2: Construction IAQ Management Plan: Before Occupancy - This credit requires a flush-out of the air volume with outdoor air, or testing the air contaminant levels after the installation of all finishes but before occupancy in order to document that pollutants and contaminants referred to in 3.1 have been dealt with properly.
EQ Credit 4.1: Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives & Sealants – All wood flooring adhesives must comply with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule #1168, which specifies a VOC limit of 100 g/l less water. For sub-floor adhesives the limit is 50 g/l less water.
EQ Credit 4.2: Low-Emitting Materials: Paints & Coatings – All clear wood finishes, floor coatings, stains, primers, and shellacs applied to wood flooring must not exceed the VOC content limits established in South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1113. Documentation of compliance and VOC limits are available from the manufacturers.
EQ Credit 4.3: Low Emitting Materials: Flooring Systems - All hard surface flooring, including wood, must be certified as compliant with the FloorScore standard by an independent third-party or meet VOC emissions criteria developed by the California Department of Public Health, which are widely known as Section 1350.
EQ Credit 4.4: Low-Emitting Materials: Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products – For the wood flooring contractor, subflooring and engineered flooring fall under this credit. These materials, including adhesives, must contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins. The credit is written to allow for naturally occurring background traces in wood.
Materials & Resources
Materials & Resources Credit 2.1 & 2.2 – Construction Waste Management – A project-wide plan will be in effect to divert waste from landfills. The wood flooring contractor’s cut-off waste and other un-usable wood materials along with other construction debris, including packaging, will go to a designated area for removal. If your flooring product comes packaged, consider unpacking it at your company’s location. If possible, request that the manufacturer use the least amount of packaging possible consistent with protecting the product during shipping. It will be important for you and all of your personnel to understand and participate in the plan. This waste management plan will also include cans, bottles and other food & beverage packaging brought onsite by construction personnel.
MR Credit 3.1 & 3.2 – Resource Reuse – This credit is near and dear to my heart; wood flooring made from reclaimed wood! Certification is not required for this credit but a statement of origin will be requested; a letter from a reputable supplier should satisfy this request.
MR Credit 5.1 & 5.2 - Regional Materials – This credit has two parts. For your wood flooring product to contribute to 5.1, it must have been milled within five hundred (500) miles of the project site; for 5.2, it must have been both harvested and milled within the 500 mile limit. If it is a salvaged wood (for MRc3) it must have been reclaimed from a building and milled within 500 miles. A statement of origin is required.
MR Credit 6 – Rapidly Renewable Materials – For the wood flooring contractor, the only likely applicable product is bamboo flooring.
MR Credit 7 – Certified Wood – FSC is the most well-known third party certification organization and the only one accepted by LEED. FSC certification starts at the forest and goes – via Chain-of-Custody certification – to the manufacturer and on to the distributor. If you are supplying the flooring, you will need to supply the appropriate documentation demonstrating compliance. Reclaimed wood flooring is excluded from this credit.
Guest Column: LEED and the Wood Flooring Contractor
January 21, 2010