This guest blog post was written by Sarah Wilson, Marketing Manager for UL Environment’s Furniture business division. Sarah  has worked in the marketing of products and services for the commercial interiors industry for more than 10 years.  She has expertise in the testing, inspection and certification of furniture and furnishings, and recently achieved her LEED Green Associate credential.

The next generation of the LEED Rating System introduces new programs, standards, concepts, and increased scrutiny and transparency.  While the fundamental categories within LEED (Location and Transport, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources and Environmental Quality) have not changed, the credits within each system have been updated to include new ways to obtain credits and different point values.

The Environmental Quality (EQ) credit (the credit for low-emitting products) has also undergone changes in LEED v4.  This credit applies to materials inside buildings, including furniture and furnishings, building materials, adhesives and sealants and other interior finishes.  The original credit was fairly simple to understand and was fairly straightforward for architects and designers to achieve. The new updated credit shows a shift towards more products being asked to show compliance and having their true impact on indoor air quality quantified. It represents a much more complex option, requiring multiple calculations to obtain points, possibly adding to the challenge for manufacturers and specifiers to get clarity on how to achieve the credit.

Key Changes to the EQ Credit

Some of the key changes include:

  • Multiple credits from LEED 2009 versions have been combined into one
  • The total available credits changed from four to three in EQ Credit 1, Option 2, plus an additional point for air testing in EQ Credit 2.
  • Increasing the number of products specifically called out, which could help improve indoor air quality in LEED buildings
  • Wet products such as paints and adhesives are required to meet actual low-emitting criteria
  • All products are now requested to categorize their Total Volatile Organic Content (TVOC) into one of three very broad categories; this decision should improve transparency of the total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted, and make it easier for users to select the lowest-emitting products

How to Meet the New EQ Credits

How can specifiers ensure that the products they select demonstrate they meet the new, more complex, EQ credit requirements?  One way is to specify products with relevant, third-party certifications for low-emitting products, such as UL GREENGUARD Gold Certification, which shows compliance to the referenced criteria and shows compliance with the lowest category of TVOC.  Projects that feature c ertified UL GREENGUARD GOLD Certified products will comply with the new credit requirements and therefore obtain the most credits in this area in LEED v4.

Products that meet GREENGUARD Gold Certification are listed on UL’s free, online Sustainable Product Guide, and each product features a downloadable certificate that demonstrates a product’s compliance with LEED credits.  This makes it easy for specifiers to demonstrate compliance with the credits and streamlines the LEED submittal process.

Resources to Learn More about LEED v4

UL has developed tools to help specifers and purchasers understand the changes to LEED v4, including a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) entitled “LEED version 4—Building Transformation through Transparency, Health and Achievement.”

Manufacturers and specifiers are invited to browse UL’s LEED Toolkit to help them understand the major changes to LEED v4.  They can also search for products by Sustainable Building Credit, such as LEED v4, on the  Sustainable Product Guide which contains thousands of products that can contribute to LEED points.

Editor’s Note: Norix Furniture products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified. To learn more, please view visit this blog post.