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What Wood Floor Contractors Should Know about LEED

By Jeffrey Horn
August/September 2009
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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized building rating and certification system for green or high-performance buildings. Cities across the United States have passed or are considering ordinances requiring LEED certification for new buildings. The trend is clear, and anyone involved in construction should know about LEED. Everyone working on one of these projects will be involved in meetings during the integrated design process and must be able to discuss how their work might affect credit compliance; following are the credits relevant to wood flooring contractors.

Environmental Quality (EQ)

Environmental Quality (EQ) Prerequisite 2: Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control: To prevent contamination of indoor surfaces and systems, the project must be completely non-smoking or permit smoking only in limited, protected areas, even during construction.

EQ Credit 3.1: Construction IAQ Management Plan: This encompasses several areas:

• During Construction: The project manager will be concerned with anticipating and preventing IAQ problems resulting from the construction/ renovation process.

• Scheduling of Deliveries: Deliveries of wood and other absorbent materials are to follow dirt-, dust- and VOC-producing construction activities in order to reduce exposure to contaminants from other building materials.

• Source Control: Your highest dirt/ dust producing activities should be scheduled around other construction activities and could require you to work during "off hours"; the wood finishes and adhesives specified will be low-VOC or no-VOC.

• Pathway Interruption: The project documents may specify a dust containment system and your work area may be sectioned/sealed off and be exhausted directly to the outside.

• Housekeeping: for a wood flooring contractor, this is generally vacuuming and proper disposal of cut-offs and other 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 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 No. 1168, which specifies a VOC limit of 100 g/L less water. For subfloor 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 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, 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 their adhesives, must contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins. The credit allows for naturally occurring traces of formaldehyde.

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, will go to a designated area for removal. If your flooring comes packaged, consider unpacking it at your company's location. If possible, request that the manufacturer use the least amount of packaging while still protecting the product during shipping. This plan will also include cans, bottles and other food and beverage packaging brought onsite by construction personnel.

MR Credit 3.1 & 3.2: Resource Reuse: This involves something near and dear to my heart: wood flooring from reclaimed wood. Certification is not required for this but a statement of origin will be requested; a letter from a reputable supplier should suffice.

MR Credit 5.1 & 5.2: Regional Materials: To contribute to 5.1, flooring must have been milled within 500 miles of the project site; for 5.2, it must have been both harvested and milled within the 500-mile radius. 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 only certification accepted by LEED. FSC starts at the forest and goes via Chain-of-Custody (COC) certification to the manufacturer and distributor. Flooring contractors are considered the end user as it relates to COC. As LEED is written, if contractors install FSC-certified flooring they have purchased (and for which they have documentation—PO's, invoices, etc.—showing the manufacturer's FSC certification and FSC COC for all other parties in between), the flooring contractor does not need FSC COC certification. Reclaimed wood flooring is excluded from this credit.

When you have questions on a project about specifics regarding LEED points, be sure to consult with the LEED Accredited Professional assigned to that project.

Jeffrey Horn is president of York, Pa.based Aged Woods Inc. and is a LEED Accredited Professional.



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