LEED Certification and Credits for Low Emitting Products

There are a number of green building rating systems that provide credits for low-emitting building products and furniture. These systems cover all stages of the building design and construction process. They are structured to encourage environmentally sound choices, including the selection of products with minimal adverse indoor environmental quality (IEQ) impacts. Achieving compliance and possibly certification for your low-emitting products under a green building rating system can lead to significant positive press coverage, differentiation of your products from those of your competitors, and in some cases compliance with codes and regulations.

The most well-known rating system is USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). There are thousands of buildings with LEED certification all over the world and many make use of one or more of the available LEED IEQ credits. Other widely-adopted systems include the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), and the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Green Building Standard.

The first table below lists the LEED IEQ credit categories in the 2009 version of the LEED rating system. Building projects can earn points by using low-emitting products in these categories. An example of a compliant low-emitting product in the Flooring Systems credit is a FloorScore certified resilient floor covering. Also listed in the table are the IEQ credit categories contained in four other green building rating systems. Like the LEED certification program, the use of low-emitting building products and furniture is a pathway for earning credits in these systems. Products that are compliant with a LEED 2009 IEQ credit and with a credit in another building rating system are documented in many green product registries, which can be explored here.

The latest version of the LEED rating system represents a major technical upgrade. LEED v4 will be officially launched at USGBC's 2013 Greenbuild conference. Significantly, LEED v4 includes product categories representing all of the major interior surfaces in a building and all of the layers comprising these surfaces. This provides an opportunity for more manufacturers to join the low-emitting, green products market. The second table below reproduces the thresholds of compliance for the six categories of products under Option 1, Product Category Calculations. Three compliant categories will earn one point for the project, five compliant categories will earn two points and 6 compliant categories will earn three points. Option 2, the Budget Calculation Method allows summing of the compliant percentages across all relevant categories with one to three points awarded depending upon the total percentage of compliant products.

Berkeley Analytical provides VOC emission testing for all building product and furniture categories included in LEED v4, LEED 2009 and other building rating systems. Test your low-emitting product, demonstrate compliance, and use the results as part of your marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started!


Rating System


U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors

IEQ Credit 4.3: LEM1 – Flooring Systems

IEQ Credit 4.5: LEM – Systems Furniture & Seating

LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations

IEQ Credit 4.3: LEM – Flooring Systems

LEED 2009 for Schools

IEQ Credit 4.1: LEM - Adhesives and Sealants
IEQ Credit 4.2: LEM - Paints and Coatings

IEQ Credit 4.3: LEM – Flooring Systems

IEQ Credit 4.5: LEM – Furniture & Furnishings

IEQ Credit 4.6: LEM – Ceiling & Wall Systems

LEED 2009 for Healthcare

IEQ Credit 4: LEM, Group 2 – Wall & Ceiling Finishes

IEQ Credit 4: LEM, Group 3 – Flooring

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

CHPS Criteria 2009

EQ2.2.1: LEM — Adhesives & Sealants

EQ2.2.2: LEM — Paints & Coatings

EQ2.2.3: LEM — Flooring Systems

EQ2.2.4: LEM — Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products

EQ2.2.5: LEM — Furniture & Furnishings

EQ2.2.6: LEM — Ceiling & Wall Systems

The Green Building Initiative (GBI)

ANSI/GBI 01-2010 Green Building Assessment Protocol

Table 12.2.1-A: Adhesives & Sealants

Table 12.2.1-B: Walls

Table 12.2.1-C: Floors & Other Interior Products

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

ANSI National Green Building Standard

901.5 Carpets

901.6 Hard Surface Flooring

901.7 Wall Covering

Green Guide for Healthcare (GGHC)

GGHC v2.2 Criteria

EQ Credit 4.1: LEM: Interior Adhesives & Sealants

EQ Credit 4.2: LEM: Wall & Ceiling Finishes

EQ Credit 4.3: LEM: Flooring Systems

EQ Credit 4.4: LEM: Composite Wood & Insulation

EQ Credit 4.5: LEM: Furniture & Medical Furnishings

1LEM: Low-Emitting Materials

Table showing thresholds of compliance for LEED v4 EQ Credit: Low-Emitting Materials, Option 1

Category Threshold VOC Emissions & content requirements
Interior paints & coatings applied on site At least 90%, by volume, for emissions; 100% for VOC content General Emissions Evaluation for paints & coatings applied to walls, floors, and ceilings. VOC content requirements for wet applied products
Interior adhesives & sealants applied on site (including flooring adhesive) At least 90%, by volume, for emissions; 100% for VOC content General Emissions Evaluation. VOC content requirements for wet applied products
Flooring 100% General Emissions Evaluation
Composite wood 100% not covered by other categories Composite Wood Evaluation
Ceilings, walls, thermal, and acoustic insulation 100% General Emissions Evaluation
Furniture (include in calculations if part of scope of work) At least 90%, by cost Furniture Evaluation