Green Building: Meeting VOC Requirements

June 23, 2021

By: Sarah Mack

Welcome to our Green Building June Takeover blog series. In weeks prior, we have covered Green Building definition/descriptions, the different organizations and programs they offer for certifications (US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED, International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge – LBC, International WELL Building Institute – WELL, and Building Research Establishment’s BREEAM), and a comparison of the different air quality requirements. This week, we will explore the chemistry of the air and trends that we have observed when the volatile organic compound (VOC) air quality parameters do not meet the requirements.

Total VOC Requirements

Most of the programs require a TVOC of less than 500 µg/m3. Some are mandatory and others use it as a guide for an action plan to reduce the level below 500 µg/m3. To ensure either scenario, it is helpful to know what compounds are highest in concentration to target those that will have the greatest impact on reducing the overall TVOC. To help keep your green building project on track, we have compiled some of the most common source types for new or remodel construction products.

As discussed in our last blog, there are multiple programs that request a targeted list of VOCs, each with their own threshold limit to be met. Of those lists, the most common failure points are Toluene, Benzene, Methylene Chloride, and Tetrachloroethene (TCE).

Benzene

  • Known Carcinogen
  • EPA Hazardous Air Pollutant
  • Primarily used to make other chemicals which are then used to make plastics, resins, nylon, synthetic fibers, some types of rubber.

Methylene Chloride

  • Known Carcinogen
  • EPA Hazardous Air Pollutant
  • Sources include Paint/Adhesive stripper, used as a degreasing agent, and as an ethane foam blowing agent.

Tetrachloroethene

  • Known Carcinogen
  • EPA Hazardous Air Pollutant
  • Used as a cleaning solvent in dry cleaning/textile processing, a degreasing solvent, a drying agent for metals and in the manufacture of fluorocarbons.

More information on the data set used:

Concerned about your Green Building projects VOC performance? We are ready to assist. Enthalpy ensures sampling and analytic accuracy with one sample media (thermal desorption tubes by ISO 16000-6) for all target VOCs.

Sarah Mack
Business Development Director for Indoor Air Testing
Sarah Mack has spent nearly 15 years in the indoor air quality industry guiding industry professionals and consumers through their sampling plans and analytical reports. She currently serves as Business Development Director for our Michigan-based laboratory that specializes in indoor air analysis.

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