Building a low impact building means good indoor air quality (IAQ), both for the health of the buildings occupants and for the sustainability of the building. This credit requires minimum indoor environmental quality (IEQ) performance to enhance the air quality of the building. It starts early in the construction phase when the buildings toxins are flushed out and strict monitoring of pollutants and contamination are controlled by air quality testing. In addition to a reduction in air quality contaminants, which can also be attributed to low-emitting materials, the building must also provide adequate capacity for ventilation.
Two prerequisites are required to meet the indoor environmental quality credits. First, the buildings indoor air quality must comply with the code requirements LEED uses. The building is also required to establish an environmental tobacco smoke plan (i.e. no smoking inside the building and only within a certain distance outside of the building). After these requirements are met, this category offers 15 possible points in 8 credits. The construction and pre-occupancy steps must include steps to minimize indoor air pollution in order to to meet the level required once the building is completed. Proper installation and monitoring of the building’s ventilation systems will help meet this requirement. Selecting low-emitting materials, such as adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, carpet, and composite wood and agrifiber products, will reduce air contaminates. Reducing the number of chemicals that ever enter the building will also help you achieve points and more importantly, create a healthier building. Comfortable thermal systems with individual controllability will cut costs and improve worker performance. Using daylight and views along with controllable lighting systems will have the same effect.
Indoor environmental quality is a crucial measure to the sustainability of your building and its occupants, and it works collectively with the other LEED credit categories to construct a low impact, eco-friendly, sustainable building. By following the LEED credits, you can work toward certifying your building and establishing an environmentally friendly building that improves your workers’ health and performance, cuts your cost, reduces environmental impacts from building, and improves the economic sustainability of your building.
As you know if you have read through these posts, there are many steps that can be taken to obtain certification and these will differ based on the building, resources used, and a host of other factors. The system also allows for innovative measures, should you meet the intent of one of the points but are not doing it exactly as specified in the guide. A LEED accredited professional can work with you and the USGBC to determine if the point will apply, not to mention that you get one point just for having a LEED AP on your team!
These posts are meant to be a brief introduction, since we have LEED APs for projects and we often get some of these questions. The US Green Building Council site provides additional information, as well as checklists for each of the different guides.