VOC reduction

VOC reduction


To minimize the effect of VOCs in building materials on indoor air quality.

The furniture elements of indoor games/sporting equipment - for example, the tables for ping-pong or pool -- should be appraised as furniture items. Any associated accessories -- such as ping-pong paddles -- can be excluded. Specialized storage systems for sports equipment - for example, bike racks -- can also be excluded.

If products that impart stain resistance are applied to furniture or furnishings as part of the manufacturing process, they would fall under the scope of Feature 04, Part 5. Note, fabric/upholstery stain protectors are considered coatings if tested separately as a component. However, products that are applied after manufacturing and designed to be used on an ongoing basis with periodic reapplication, are considered housekeeping goods and fall under the scope of Feature 09.

No, project teams can choose which standard works better depending on the products/materials used in the project. Given the variety of products/materials considered "furnishing," Part 5b (CDPH) was added to provide project teams with an additional choice by which to categorize products and materials that do not fall under Part 5a (ANSI/BIFMA).

No, doors and windows are considered permanent fixtures rather than furnishings and don't fall under the scope of Feature 04, Part 5.

Yes, permanently installed carpeting is subject to Feature 04, Part 3 as flooring, while area rugs are subject to Part 5 as a furnishing.

Yes, grout is covered within Part 2.

Any material/product or part(s) used to contain fire or prevent the passage of fire/smoke through joints are excluded from Feature 04 Part 2. Part 5 is not exempt, because "furniture and furnishings" do not generally exist for the purpose of fire protection.

No, such materials applied off-site are excluded from the scope of Feature 04, Parts 1 and 2.

No, insulation used for purposes of fire safety is not required to meet Feature 04, Part 4.

No, fire coatings are excluded from the scope of Feature 04, Part 1.

The IWBI recognizes the following as inherently non-emitting: stone, ceramic, powder-coated metals, plated or anodized metal, glass, concrete, clay brick, natural wool, and unfinished or untreated solid wood. It is important to note that if any of these items have finishes, sealants or adhesives applied, they will require VOC testing either as a whole or in parts, i.e. at least the coating/finish/adhesive requires VOC testing.

No, outdoor furniture is not considered within the WELL project scope; however, IWBI encourages the project team to extend the WELL feature intent to the outdoor spaces as well.

Feature 04 overlaps with the LEED v4 Low Emitting Materials Credit closely; however, the LEED credit allows project teams to choose categories of products that have VOC testing or to use a budget calculation to determine compliance. Therefore, while LEED v4 and WELL 1.0 both consider paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, flooring, insulation, furniture and furnishings, there is not a guaranteed overlap between WELL Feature 04 and LEED Low Emitting Materials as the chosen categories of products may be different.

LEED 2009 or v3 considers slightly different categories of products than WELL, so there is still not a direct overlap. In LEED 2009 the project team can choose from categories of paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, flooring, ceilings, walls, insulation, furniture and composite wood to evaluate for different amounts of points.

Please refer to the WELL-LEED crosswalk for more details on how the two programs work together for projects pursuing dual certification.

California has some of the strongest health-based regulations pertaining to VOC content and emissions of building materials, which is why these standards are used to set specific limits on VOC content and/or emissions in WELL. These standards have been widely adopted in the materials space and are slowly becoming "industry-standard" in the US.

For international projects, the IWBI approves proposals of best-in-class regional standards. Please review the Feature 04 approved equivalencies and alternative adherence paths to find a list of previously approved alternative options. In addition, when a best-in-class regional standard does not meet WELL stringency, IWBI will make outreach to the alternate standard organization to confirm aligned missions and encourage movement toward WELL thresholds.

While it is common for systems furniture to meet ANSI/BIFMA and therefore have VOC testing results, this is not the case yet in the market for ancillary pieces. One way to overcome this challenge is for the project team or manufacturer to obtain VOC testing for the individual parts of the furniture, i.e. paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants. With this, please keep in mind that some products, like composite wood, would have emissions testing accounting for the binder (typically using formaldehyde); however, any finishes would need to be evaluated separately.

Furniture and furnishings generally include all stand-alone and built-in furniture items purchased for the project. For example, this may include seating, open office desks, enclosed office desks, cabinetry, storage, white boards and tack boards, carts, free standing screens, tables, partitions, cubicle panels, drapes or curtains. Office accessories (notebooks, monitor arms, waste baskets) are not included in the scope of applicable furniture and furnishings. Custom and built-in furniture such as cabinetry are included in the scope of Feature 04, Part 5, but generally, millwork items, such as window casings, are not included.

Applicable materials (at least 95%, by cost) for WELL must meet sections 7.6.1 and 7.6.2 of the BIFMA e3-2011 standard or California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method v1.1-2010 (or later) to comply. Note, for BIFMA e3-2011, anything that isn't seating or a workstation (other finishes), the "individual components - private office" VOC emissions limitations should be referenced in A.

Furniture and furnishings delivered to the project more than one year before performance verification are not considered 'newly purchased' and therefore not subject to the VOC requirements.

Salvaged and reused furniture and furnishings more than one year old at the time of performance verification are out of the scope of this requirement; however, any paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants applied to these pieces after project registration must meet Parts 1 and 2 of this Feature.

Note that furniture and furnishings which are not newly purchased do not count in determining the 95% threshold.