We’ve talked about formaldehyde regulations and standards, but what about the other VOCs? (Oh yeah, VOCs—that’s another term to define—Volatile Organic Compounds, which are basically chemicals in the air.) Helping create good IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) comes in part from controlling the VOCs emitting from building products.
When considering VOCs, green building systems and the flooring industry mostly use CA 01350 (officially “California Specification 01350 (Standard Method v1.1, effective Jan. 1, 2012)”) which is usually referred to as “Thirteen-Fifty” in conversation.
The industry uses to CA 01350 to consider the emissions profile from finished products that are “job-ready” like engineered flooring or office furniture. Remember that CARB and the other formaldehyde regulations are performance-based standards covering only the question of formaldehyde emissions from certain specific composite wood products—most of which are raw material destined for further processing downstream.
In contrast CA 01350 can be applied to all flooring types from wood to vinyl. It also can look at other products from wet goods like glues and finishes to other building products like cabinets and furniture. For the flooring industry, the most important factor is that it can consider the finished floor as it will be installed in a home, not just the component parts
Because CA 01350 can check emission levels for thousands of different VOC’s it is used as the basis for many different privately branded certification programs. It is used by the furniture industry as the basis of their BIFMA standard and for flooring, it is the basis of the “FloorScore” certification program owned by Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) and managed by SCS. Green Guard for Schools and Children and VOC Green also use it as the basis of their certification programs, both of which cover flooring and other products.
It is important to remind everyone that this is NOT a regulation—it is not created by a government or mandated by any agency. This is a publicly available testing protocol. Companies that offer products compliant with CA 01350, be it through one of the many branded programs or a manufacturer’s own program, are going above and beyond. Compliance is voluntary, unlike compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s TSCA VI which will be the law.
And no matter what the brand name of the program, the product will be tested under the same conditions, using the same methods and must meet the 01350 emission standard. There may be some tweaking between certification programs (including some differences in other things beyond 01350 they look at), but the bottom line is that compliance to CA 01350 is THE most current definition we have for ‘green’ in the world of indoor air quality.
The actual program can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/IAQ/Documents/cdph-iaq_standardmethod_v1_1_2010%20new1110.pdf