The NIBS–IEQ Products & Materials Committee believes that the CHPS Indoor Air Quality Emissions Testing Standards and the Green Guard Allowable Emission Levels offer tested and reviewed approaches to material and product selection for buildings. Given the range of guidance and standards available for material selection, these two standards provide the most widely accepted processes for making material selections to construct buildings that are healthier for the general public. It should be noted that the NIBS–IEQ Products & Materials Committee does not believe that either of these standards offers an entirely acceptable solution for persons with MCS and EMS. However, they provide a starting point in making material selections, and they provide the best available guidance on component screening and materials emission limits. Making materials selections that meet either the CHPS or the Green Guard allowable emission levels should be considered an absolute minimum requirement in creating a building or environment that is accessible to persons with MCS and EMS. No designer or other person making material selections should choose any materials that do not at least meet these standards. Even then, the other considerations discussed herein should be a part of the selection process to provide the best opportunity that the building will provide an environment accessible to persons with MCS and EMS.
The Green Guard Certification Standards list allowable emissions for a range of building products. A designer or other individual making a material selection must investigate product literature, for the material under consideration, to determine if the product meets at least the Green Guard standards. The Green Guard web site lists products that have been tested and have met their standards. However, it is possible that a product manufacturer has not submitted their product for certification to either Green Guard or CHPS. In this case, the person making a material selection must seek any published emissions testing data and product component data available from the manufacturer. Some manufacturers publish data on emissions from their products, and other manufacturers are moving quickly to provide such data. If such data is not currently published, the manufacturer must have the product or material tested in accordance with the testing regimen specified in the Green Guard or CHPS 01350 Certification Standards.
The CHPS Section 01350 protocols and the Green Guard Certification for IAQ data require the same chamber testing. The CHPS protocols and calculations go further than the Green Guard Certification Standards in that the designer is required to take published emissions rates and perform calculations based on the amount of material to be installed in the building and the zones and air handling capabilities of the HVAC systems in those zones. Also, the allowable emission level for formaldehyde is lower in the CHPS standard than the Green Guard standard. See the discussion below for more information on formaldehyde.
For both standards, all building materials are required to be tested in dynamic environmental chambers following ASTM standards D-5116-97 and D-6670-01, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's testing protocol for furniture and the State of Washington's protocol for interior furnishings and construction materials. Products are measured for emission levels according to the parameters set forth in the ASTM Standard for emissions testing.
The allowable emission levels of both standards can be found by clicking on the links below. In some cases, the Green Guard standards may appear to have lower standards for emissions of some VOCs than the CHPS Section 1350 standards. However, the person selecting materials for the building must bear in mind that the CHPS standard requires a detailed calculation for the building, the amount of material to be installed and the air change rate of the HVAC systems. Green Guard emissions standards are based on a "standard" model of a building, and a "standard" exchange rate of fresh air in the building.