FHPSB Technical Guidance
This page contains document links to Construction Criteria Base

Low-Emitting Materials

General Principles and Commitments

Specify materials and products with low pollutant emissions, including adhesives, sealants, paints, carpet systems, and furnishings.

Technical Guidance

Introduction

Building materials and products (e.g., cleaning products, office equipment, etc.) used within buildings are potential sources of indoor environmental contamination. The ability of chemicals and other pollutants from these sources to cause health effects varies greatly depending on several factors including exposure and toxicity of the pollutant or mixture of pollutants. Therefore, it is important to consider both the emission profile and the toxicity of the emissions when determining the potential impact of a product to indoor environmental quality and occupant health.

Source control and ventilation are the two most important strategies available for minimizing the impact of building materials and products on indoor air quality. Because of the growing interest by manufacturers, governments, and third-party organizations to consider indoor air concerns when purchasing products, several programs to test products and materials used indoors have been initiated. These programs often label, certify, and/or classify products and materials based on their emissions of volatile organic compounds and other potential pollutants; such products are often called 'green' or 'low-emitting'. For some of the programs that promote 'green' products, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues are only a small part of their criteria, while other programs emphasize IAQ issues. Whether such certified products are better from a public health standpoint is often hard to determine for a number of reasons, including the difficulties of making a clear link between exposure to indoor emissions and human health, the lack of adequate research on this relationship, and the lack of transparency in some testing programs. EPA is currently studying these issues to determine if additional guidance on product emissions would be both helpful and feasible.

The Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers provides information about various certification programs that attempt to address this issue.

Major Resources

WBDG

Design Objectives

Secure / Safe—Ensure Occupant Safety and Health, Sustainable—Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality

Model Contract and Specification Language

Tools