January 29, 2009

Eurotech Seating

Office Chairs


Casegoods Systems

Performance Furnishings

Laminate Casegoods

Performance Furnishings

Task Seating

Wright Line, LLC

Systems Furniture


BASF Canada

Spray Foam Insulation

Johns Manville

Pipe Insulation

JP Lamborn Co.


National Gypsum Company

Gypsum Wallboard

Tokuyama America Inc.


Urethane Technology Company, Inc.

Foam Insulation







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2211 Newmarket Parkway
Suite 110
Marietta, Georgia 30067




Building Green and Healthy

It is not uncommon these days to hear the words 'build green.' In fact, research shows that by the year 2012 the U.S. residential green building market share will be 20% of all new residential construction (valued at $40-$70 billion). You might be asking yourself, "Why the increase?" According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw-Hill Construction, 91% of homebuyers buying green were looking for lower operation costs/energy savings, 84% wanted a healthier place to live and 80% had environmental concerns.

It is clear from this survey that homeowners want their homes to be healthy as well as energy efficient and environmentally friendly, yet, many of them, or their builders, will chose green building features that focus primarily on energy and environmental conservation, rather than products that promote a healthy indoor environment. While tight construction, insulation, water -efficient plumbing and energy-efficient appliances are all great options for lowering operational costs, they may unintentionally contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). For example, really tight, well insulated homes with minimal ventilation and low air change rates can result in indoor mold growth and the build-up of indoor air pollutants to high levels that can be a detriment to building occupant health.

To understand the importance of balancing indoor air quality and energy efficiency, homeowners need to have a basic knowledge of how indoor air pollution impacts health, its sources, how to minimize it and how to balance IAQ and energy efficiency.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are indoor air pollutants which can have short- and long-term health consequences. Short-term health effects include triggering asthma and allergies, eyes, nose and throat irritation, headache and general flu-like symptoms. Long-term health consequences include neurological and respiratory disease and even cancer. Additionally, research shows a direct correlation between asthma and poor indoor air quality related to damp buildings and mold. Asthma rates have increased 160% in children under the age of 5 and 75% in Americans in the past 14 years. Asthma is an issue and steps need to be taken to protect the health of building occupants.

Before you can minimize indoor air pollution, you need to know where it is coming from. Sources for indoor air pollution are numerous and include building materials, home furnishings, paint, cleaning products and processes, flooring and personal care. A survey was taken of 200 homes, schools and offices. Below is a table of the 14 most common VOCs found in homes.

Table 1. Common VOCs found in homes

Cleaners, construction materials
Cleaners, paints, deodorizers
Plastics, flooring
Wood finishes, cleaners, paints
Waxes, polishes, deodorants
Cleaners, disinfectants
Furniture, shelving, cabinetry
Paints, Plastics
Markers, cleaners
Plastics, wood finishes
Fragrances, cleaners
Cleaners, wood products, adhesives
Woods, cleaners
4 Phenylcyclohexene
Carpet, papers

While creating and maintaining good indoor air quality in a home may seem like a daunting task, it can be accomplished by following three key strategies: source control, ventilation and air cleaning.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association and other experts agree that source control is the only completely effective way to remove pollutants from indoor environments. They also agree that total eradication of indoor air contaminants often is not feasible or practical, especially in homes. A more realistic goal is to use building materials, furnishings, finishes and office equipment that emit low levels of non-toxic VOCs. The top ten products that can release VOCs in the air include cleaners, kitchen cabinetry, furniture, mattresses, floor finishes, architectural paints, vinyl furnishings such as flooring and shower curtains, window treatments, carpet and insulation. Cleaning products and processes will remove larger particles and kill bacteria and viruses on floors, furniture, walls, doorknobs, bedding and linens and bathroom fixtures. Selecting and using only products that have been shown to meet current low-emitting, non-toxic requirements will contribute to good indoor air quality.

Low-emitting products ensure the fewest possible chemicals are released into the air. The GREENGUARD Children and SchoolsSM Program certifies products for low chemical emissions. Additionally, the GREENGUARD Children and Schools standard presents the most rigorous product emission criteria to date. Products certified to the GREENGUARD Children and Schools standard are acceptable for use in daycare facilities, schools and homes. The standard was based on the California 01350 criteria and exceeds the requirements.

As for ventilation, keeping the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system in good working order and air ducts and drip pans clean is important for minimizing dust accumulation and indoor mold growth within the system. The best type of HVAC system depends on the size of the home along with a wide variety of other factors. The key is to ensure the system is properly designed for the space and properly operated and maintained. It also is vital that the HVAC system maintain appropriate building pressurization, which is critical for preventing moisture intrusion. The downside of HVAC systems is they may bring in outdoor air pollutants as well as pick up indoor pollutants, such as mold spores, allergens, dust and VOCs from one area of the home and transport them to another.

The goal of air cleaning/filtration is to remove indoor pollutants by trapping them inside a mechanical device. It is important to look for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters which trap very fine particles. Remember, ventilation alone and air cleaning alone are not effective ways of ensuring good IAQ, but coupled with source control can help improve a home's IAQ.

So the burning question remains - how do you balance IAQ and energy efficiency? The answer - both elements need to have the same priority throughout the life of a home. If impacts on IAQ are not considered, energy conservation measures can cause significant health and comfort issues for families. On the other hand, if energy use is not considered when employing the three key IAQ strategies, source control, ventilation and air cleaning, energy costs may actually increase.

Follow the link to view the complete report, "Energy Conservation and Indoor Air Quality: Benefits of Achieving Both in Homes"


The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute often serves as a resource for publications and media outlets, providing information on various topics that relate to product emissions and indoor air quality. The following are recent articles and features.

The Wall Street Journal
How Green Is Your Gift List? We Find Out

Kids Today
Selecting healthy products for children’s environments

Green Lodging News
Take a Vacation from Poor Indoor Air Quality

CNet News
Laser printers don't emit harmful toner dust, study says

Sustainable Life Media
Office Depot Ups Standards for Green Book Catalog

To read these and past articles, visit the Press Room/Articles under the 'About GEI' tab on the GEI website.Read More...

Upcoming Events

In the next few months, the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) will participate in several events.

Surfaces (Exhibiting)
February 3-5, 2009
Las Vegas, NV

AIA National Convention (Exhibiting)
April 30-May 2, 2009
San Francisco, CA

NeoCon World's Trade Fair (Speaking)
June 16, 2009
Chicago, IL

The TFM Show (Speaking)
June 18, 2009
Indianapolis, IN

Continuing Education

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is proud to be a recognized USGBC Education Provider, and provides numerous Continuing Education Courses related to indoor air quality principles, including the following:

Healthy Indoor Air by Design
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), CSI (1-ECH), USGBC

This basic level course is designed to communicate the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) and empower architects, designers and specifiers to employee strategies to improve the IAQ in the spaces they are creating. The course includes background on the impact of indoor air pollution on human health and economics. Participants will learn to identify sources of indoor air pollutants, illustrated by several case studies that highlight the effects of controlling, versus not controlling, IAQ at the design phase of building construction. Emphasis also will be placed on how participants can incorporate good IAQ principles into sustainable building projects.

Clearing the Air on IAQ: Making Sense of IAQ Standards and IEQ Requirements
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), CSI (1-ECH)

This intermediate level educational program will help specifying professionals navigate the current state of IAQ criteria in the U.S., as it relates to product specification and green building programs. At the end of this one-hour program, participants will understand the current issues and solutions associated with indoor air quality. They will be able to differentiate between different product standards and certification programs in the U.S. marketplace. From an IEQ perspective, attendees will gain the knowledge they need to effectively navigate green building guidelines and programs.

Building Blocks for Healthy Indoor Air
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1CEU), USGBC

This basic level educational program will help designers creating educational spaces, specifically daycare and K-12 schools, achieve the best indoor air quality for those environments as it is fundamental to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of children. At the end of this one-hour program, participants will understand the health risks and sources of indoor air pollution in daycare and K-12 facilities. They will discover strategies for creating educational environments with healthy indoor air quality, and identify resources for improving and maintaining indoor air quality.

Design to Prevent the Damaging Effects of Mold
Credits: AIA (1LU), CSI (1-ECH)

This basic level course outlines the role of the architect in preventing mold in their projects. The participants will gain understanding of the impact mold has on building integrity and materials; quantify the financial impact of mold; and discuss its effects on human health. The course will explore the sources of moisture intrusion, and will detail preventive strategies to minimize moisture intrusion throughout the design, construction, and operations and maintenance of a building.


GEI is taking its courses on the road to architecture and design firms, industry meetings, campuses and manufacturer showrooms across the country. If your firm or group is interested in learning more about these courses, please send a request to education@greenguard.org.

© 2009 GREENGUARD Environmental Institute