Does Your Building Meet LEED Indoor Air Quality Requirements?

Protecting the world from infectious disease

Indoor air quality management is a critical part of operating a LEED-certified building. Most people know that LEED certification relates to energy efficiency, but fewer people know that indoor air quality (IAQ) management is essential in gaining LEED certification.

Some of the benefits of meeting LEED indoor air quality requirements include:

  • Reduced indoor pollution, which means better health for the building’s occupants
  • Easier maintenance and lower repair costs for HVAC components
  • Lower utility bills and higher occupancy rates — two things that can boost your bottom line

If your building doesn’t meet IAQ requirements, you may not be able to achieve LEED certification at all. 

What is a LEED Certification?

LEED, a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings, helps building owners and operators achieve immediate and measurable improvements in their buildings’ performance. Facilities pursuing LEED v4.1 certification must meet the Minimum Indoor Air Quality requirement to benefit occupants and establish minimum standards for indoor air quality.

Meeting LEED indoor air quality requirements is about creating a safe and healthy space for the people inside your building.

In today’s high-tech, high-stress business world, your most important asset is your employees. A safe and healthy working environment leads to higher employee satisfaction and productivity.

No matter where your building is located or its purpose, meeting LEED indoor air quality requirements should be a top priority for creating a safe and healthy indoor environment for those inside your building.

Improving your workplace’s air quality can help reduce sick time, improve productivity and boost employee retention. In schools, it can reduce absenteeism, improve student performance, and increase community trust.

Organizations or building owners who want to achieve certification under LEED v4.1 projects must maintain ventilation systems, follow the requirements for mechanically and naturally ventilated spaces, and meet or exceed the performance credit criteria. Projects that measure indoor air contaminant levels are awarded points based on results from carbon dioxide (CO2) and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) measurement results.

Keeping the HVAC system in tip-top shape can help maintain good indoor air quality.

Mechanical systems can significantly impact indoor air quality by contributing to the number of particles in the air, including dust, pollen, viruses, bacteria, and mold spores. Poor ventilation can worsen indoor air quality by not allowing enough outdoor air inside to dilute indoor pollutant sources or not allowing enough pollutants to exit the building. High temperatures and humidity can also cause levels of some contaminants to rise and thrive.

In new buildings, poorly designed or faulty HVAC systems can allow pollutants to accumulate in ductwork and spread to other parts of the building, leading to complaints from tenants about poor indoor air quality and higher rates of absenteeism. Poorly maintained facilities can have similar problems due to accumulated dirt, dust, and mold.

As part of the prerequisite described in the Minimum Indoor Air Quality requirement under LEED v4.1, stakeholders must maintain ventilation system equipment based on Table 8.2 of ASHRAE 62.1-2016 and include information on operations and preventative maintenance. The total amount of outdoor air delivered for mechanically ventilated spaces must be measured and verified against the rates outlined in the current facilities requirements, operations, and maintenance plan.

Improving the filtration of the HVAC system will help filter contaminants from the air, which will enhance its quality.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USGBC released four LEED “Safety First” pilot credits to offer best practices in aligning public health and industry guidance on indoor air quality.

The Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 pilot credit builds on existing LEED strategies. It encourages the addition of upgraded air filtration through the use of MERV 13 or 14 filters where possible, among other measures, to minimize the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2 through the air. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation are also additional requirements of this credit.

Policies and procedures of an indoor air quality management plan can help meet the indoor air quality requirements of a LEED certification.

Policies and procedures of an IAQ management plan can help businesses and building owners meet the indoor air quality requirements of a LEED certification.

As part of the requirements described in the Indoor Environmental Quality Performance requirement under LEED v4.1, stakeholders must conduct an occupant satisfaction survey or indoor air quality evaluation. At least 40 occupant surveys are required of regular building occupants to earn a minimum of 8 required points.

The Safety First: Re-Enter Your Workspace pilot credit offers an additional point to stakeholders through management and operation plans that include information on building and workforce preparation, access control, social distancing, green cleaning, touchpoint reduction, and communication via occupant surveys.

Creating a healthy workplace will benefit you, your employees, and your clients.

In today’s world of anxiety and uncertainty, building owners and business leaders need to be aware that the health and happiness of the people inside of their buildings are affected by more than just the work they do. The air that they breathe daily can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing.

Poor indoor air quality can be a major health hazard, which can lead to mistakes and other workplace problems. Both your employees, customers, vendors, and anyone who spends time inside of your building will appreciate a workspace that has been specifically designed with their health in mind.

Meet LEED Indoor Air Quality Requirements with Ease

Does your organization have an indoor air quality health and safety management plan? Does it have a way to monitor, measure, record, and store indoor air quality and HVAC performance data?

If not, it needs one. And we can help you get started.

The benefits of having a plan and monitoring technology in place are enormous: it shows that your employees, clients, and partners can trust your organization to provide them a protected environment, which means everyone is more likely to do business with you.

It also means you’re less likely to experience lawsuits or other legal issues if something does happen. The good news is that with a health and safety management plan in place, things turn from disasters into inconveniences. The best news is that we do all the work for you when you partner with us! Leave it to our subject matter experts so you can focus on what’s important: your business.