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February 2009

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) approved flooring certified to the GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM standard as an alternative path for achieving credit under the LEED® Rating System. This means that building owners seeking LEED certification will have an additional option for achieving credit EQ 4.3: Flooring Systems for low-emitting flooring.

“We applaud GEI in providing a robust third-party certification program that encourages floor covering manufacturers to verify their products to be protective of building occupants’ health and well being,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chairman of the USGBC. “This approval will increase the availability of qualified sustainable flooring products including hardwoods, bamboo, laminates, rubber, stone, ceramic, quartz, underlayment and other alternative flooring materials for LEED projects.”

Now, GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified products are approved in all of the following LEED Rating Systems, a strong endorsement for the importance of low- emitting materials validated by regular, rigorous third-party testing. (While the alternative path is effective immediately, it will appear in the errata of the first printing of LEED 2009 until the second printing, when it will be in the body of the document.)

  • LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors EQ Credit 4.3 – Low-Emitting Materials: Flooring Systems
  • LEED 2009 for New Construction EQ Credit 4.3 – Low-Emitting Materials: Flooring Systems
  • LEED 2009 for Homes MR Credit 2.2
  • LEED 2009 for Core & Shell EQ Credit 4.3 – Low-Emitting Materials: Flooring Systems
  • LEED 2009 Retail for Commercial Interiors EQ Credit 4 Option C: Flooring Systems (in pilot phase)
  • LEED 2009 Retail for New Construction EQ Credit 4 Option C: Flooring Systems (in pilot phase)


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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.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Paint it green: Buying eco-friendly paints requires some homework

Window Fashions News
Chicago Design Firm Turns Hanamint Showroom Green

Electronic Evolutions
Green A/V technology: saving money and the environment

Do you Know what's in your Baby's Mattress

Cleaning and Maintenance Management
GREENGUARD’s cleaning standard

Limestone Installation Stands Out in Napa

Tot Trends
Keeping Your Children Safe from Indoor Toxins

Future Environment Designs
Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Sustainable Homes

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

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The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute was pleased to again sponsor the GREENGUARD Sustainability Award. The award was part of the 2009 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition, an integrated learning experience that promotes academic excellence in the development of entrepreneurial concepts and new enterprise plans. More specifically, the GREENGUARD Sustainability Award is presented to the team with a business plan which best incorporates strategies for social and environmental sustainability.

This year, team ReGreen Inc. won the award. ReGreen Inc. developed a business plan around a moving bed scrubbing system with the ability to remove 96% of the sulfur oxide (SOx) and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions from coal-fired processes, while at the same time absorbing up to 99% of the heat of exiting gases for regeneration. This system provides 33% more thermal efficiency and better pollution control at a much lower cost. The student team will be able to further develop their business concept with the GREENGUARD Sustainability Award.

After four years of hard work by GREENGUARD building scientists and a large volunteer consensus team, the GREENGUARD Building Construction standard is nearing ANSI approval. This comprehensive GREENGUARD standard is designed to protect against mold contamination and address moisture management throughout the design, construction, acceptance and occupancy phases of a new building project.

Occupants and owners of buildings certified to the GREENGUARD standard can rest assure that the destructive and hazardous consequences of mold contamination were avoided.

Official ANSI approval of the standard is expected by the end of March. Thank you to all those that participated in this standard development, especially the volunteer consensus group.

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Dr. Marilyn Black
Dr.Marilyn Black

Founder, GEI

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When it comes to effectively controlling the source of chemical pollutants in indoor environments, there is a big difference between the selection of building materials, furnishings and finishes based on their volatile organic compound (VOC) content versus their level of VOC emissions. For indoor environments, VOCs used in the manufacturing of typical products, such as furniture, flooring and cleaners, outgas into the air that people breathe. The amount and type of VOCs released in the air may not be directly correlated with the VOC content.

VOC content (measured in grams per liter or g/l) is the measured or calculated amount of VOCs used in the formulation of a product, VOC emissions (measured in microgram per cubic meter or ug/m3) are the amount of VOCs released, or outgassed, into the air.

The U.S. Green Building Council, through its Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program, is the major driver of the rapidly growing green building efforts, including increasing awareness of the importance of pollution source control in indoor environments. But even within LEED, Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) requirements for some products, like adhesives and paints, are based primarily on VOC content and not on tested or verified for VOC emissions. However, many green building programs are moving to emission based credits with the realization that product emissions have a greater impact on indoor air quality and the health of building occupants.

One concern is that most VOC content specifications are based on outdoor air quality requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District. These requirements are intended to measure outdoor industrial VOCs that react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone, and not for levels of VOCs emitted indoors. Products that meet content-based requirements may not qualify as low-emitting materials nor can their indoor air quality performance be verified without chemical emissions data. Techniques used to determine VOC content are not sensitive enough to measure VOCs at the levels emitted into the air. In addition, the complex mixtures of VOCs used to manufacture products may result in reactions producing VOCs that were not in the original formulation, but become airborne when used in typical consumer or commercial applications.

To protect the air quality in homes, educational facilities, healthcare and office buildings, a golden rule is to specify and use products that have been tested or certified to meet low VOC emissions criteria.

For more information on content versus emissions visit the indoor air quality information portal at for the white paper, “Beneath the Surface.” You can also visit the GREENGUARD Product GuideSM, which currently features more than 200,000 low-emitting products at, to find and specify products for the best indoor environments.

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Although indoor mold growth and associated litigation is not the headliner it was a few years ago, it still lurks out there ready to colonize any indoor environment where there is sufficient warmth, food and moisture. Building owners, designers, contractors, facility managers and building occupants must be careful not to let their guard down, even as the focus shifts from preventing mold to conserving energy and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, without careful attention to preventing indoor mold growth, sustainable building practices can inadvertently generate ideal conditions for mold growth. The consequences of indoor mold growth can be costly in terms of adverse impacts on building occupants health, damage to building materials, plus litigation for construction defects and personal injury, not to mention bad publicity.

The best strategy is to make mold prevention a primary part of the design, construction and facility management process, with the same emphasis as building code compliance, functionality, schedule and budget.

Through the GREENGUARD Building Construction Certification Program, building scientists partner with the building owner’s design, construction and facility management team. The program addresses the four phases of a building’s development cycle: design, construction, acceptance and occupancy. This high level of collaboration and invaluable guidance identifies potential moisture problems early on, which reduces the cost of changes in design and construction. It also consolidates moisture management into a single process, which improves design and construction efficiency and complements sustainable building practices. Developers positioning themselves as progressive providers of high quality construction benefit form the GREENGUARD Certification, and it facilitates competitive, affordable rates for mold insurance. The GREENGUARD Building Construction Certification is a key differentiator in the marketplace and an important credential in the event a construction defect claim is made.

To view GREENGUARD Building Construction Certified projects visit

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GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®

KI – Furniture Lounge Seating
KI offers GREENGUARD Certified furniture designs for any application. Located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, they also provide personalized solutions for higher education, K-12, healthcare, government and corporate settings.

GREENGUARD Children and SchoolsSM Certified

CertainTeed - Closed Cell Foam Insulation
CertainTeed offers GREENGUARD Certified insulation, batts, duct liner and liner board. Based in Valley Forge, PA, CertainTeed also manufacturers building materials including roofing, vinyl and fiber cement siding, PVC trim, fence, railing, deck, foundations, gypsum, ceilings and PVC pipe products.

BioFit Engineered Products – Furniture
BioFit Engineered Products offers GREENGUARD Certified tables for educational facilities. Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, they also manufacture ergonomic seating and stools for office, industrial, education, healthcare and high-tech environments.

Comfort Office Furniture Co Ltd.
Comfort Office Furniture offers GREENGUARD Certified multifunctional, ergonomic office chairs. Headquartered in China, they also manufacture a variety of leather chairs exported to many countries.

Decca Furniture Limited
Decca Furniture Limited offers GREENGUARD Certified office and hospitality furniture. Based in Hong Kong, China, Decca focuses on architectural woodworking for contract and hospitality applications. and

More certified manufacturers

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To minimize your exposure to unnecessary VOCs and respirable particles, ensure green cleaning procedures are being used in your space. As a minimum, this includes using low VOC or non-toxic cleaning chemicals, premeasured amounts of chemicals to reduce waste and excessive amounts, microfiber dust cloths and mops and using a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner for carpet and textile surfaces.

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Questions or comments?


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

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

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

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

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