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LEED v2009
Commercial Interiors
Indoor Environmental Quality
Low-Emitting Materials—Composite Wood and Agrifiber Products

LEED CREDIT

CI-2009 IEQc4.4: Low-emitting materials - composite wood and agrifiber products 1 point

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Credit achievement rate

XX%

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LEEDuser expert

Brent Ehrlich

BuildingGreen
Products and materials specialist

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Credit language

USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Intent

To reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and/or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants.

Requirements

Composite wood and agrifiber products used on the interior of the building (i.e., inside the weatherproofing system) must contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins. Laminating adhesives used to fabricate on-site and shop-applied composite wood and agrifiber assemblies must not contain added urea-formaldehyde resins. Composite wood and agrifiber products are defined as particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, wheatboard, strawboard, panel substrates and door cores. Materials considered fixtures, furniture and equipment (FF&E) are not considered base building elements and are not included.Products covered by IEQ Credit 4.5, Low-Emitting Materials, System Furniture and Seating are excluded from these requirements.

Credit substitution available
You may use the LEED v4 version of this credit on v2009 projects. For more information check out this article.
See all forum discussions about this credit »

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Frequently asked questions

Our project is planning to use no composite wood products. Do we automatically earn this credit?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

We have a product that complies with very stringent E1 and E0 European standards for low emissions. Does this product comply with this credit?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

See all forum discussions about this credit »

Addenda

10/1/2012Updated: 2/14/2015
Global ACP
Description of change:
Replace the definition of "urea-formaldehyde" with "a combination of urea and formaldehyde used in some glues and adhesives, particularly in composite wood products. At room temperature, ureaformaldehyde emits formaldehyde, a toxic and possibly carcinogenic gas."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

To comply with CARB, some composite wood manufacturers are switching from urea formaldehyde resins to:a. Melamine urea formaldehyde with urea formaldehyde added as a "scavenger" to bond with residual un-bonded formaldehyde molecules attempting to reduce formaldehyde off-gassing. b. Melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger. These resins are being marketed as "melamine formaldehyde" and compliant with LEED\'s no added urea formaldehyde IEQ4.4 credit requirements. While resulting composite wood products made with these resin technologies may be CARB compliant, the question arises as to the use of these resins being compliant with LEED IEQc4.4. Phenol formaldehyde and MDI have long been proven to be the best resin options to urea formaldehyde to prevent formaldehyde off-gassing, so utilizing resins with urea that formulate urea-formaldehyde either prior to going in the end product, or within the end product, seems counter to the intent of this LEED credit. Are melamine urea formaldehyde with added urea formaldehyde acting as a scavenger, and melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger to bond with loose formaldehyde within a product, acceptable resin technologies considered compliant with LEED EQc4.4?

Ruling:

Revised ***4/1/2013*** Products using melamine urea formaldehyde (MUF) with added urea formaldehyde acting as a scavenger or melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger to bond with loose formaldehyde within a product do not automatically meet the credit requirements for IEQ credit 4.4. If the composite wood product using MUF can meet the testing requirements and is found compliant with the California Air Resource Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120 requirements for no-added formaldehyde based resins or the requirements for ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde resins (ULEF), the product can contribute to IEQ credit 4.4. Previously, it was unclear how melamine fit within the scope of this credit. This ruling is intended to clarify how to address melamine, not prematurely adopt the LEED v4 credit language for composite wood. Therefore, composite wood products using other amino resins must meet the no added urea-formaldehyde requirements of LEED 2009. Applicable internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
3/10/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is an office building with multiple stores where most of the occupied areas are open spaces. We intend to apply wood-based products in the technical floor (access floor). In accordance with LEED-NC V2.2, wood-based products inside the waterproofing system should not contain any urea-formaldehyde-based resins. This requirement is reasonably supported by the assumption that only the materials inside waterproofing system can have emissions for the interior environment. However if one material is applied inside the waterproofing system but is enclosed inside a waterproofing material, can this be considered out of the scope for this credit? The access floor squares will be made out of a wood particleboard core encapsulated inside an aluminum box and supported on metal supports, to allow the passage of all the cables and wires. This box will then be covered with the surfacing material. The function of the wood-based board is to give the necessary stiffness and bending strength to the whole assembly and, therefore, it will be totally enclosed inside this waterproofing box in order to avoid moisture penetration, what could interfere with the material performance. Therefore, we believe that this wood-based panel application guarantees that no eventual VOC emission can be allowed and, therefore, we\'d like to ask permission to apply this solution in the above mentioned project. In addition, please also note that this board is independently certified as E1 class, which is the class with the lowest level of formaldehyde emissions according with the European Standard EN 13986.

Ruling:

As noted in CIR ruling dated 8/13/2008, all products within the weatherproofing system must not contain any added urea-formaldehyde, regardless of whether the product is encapsulation within a waterproofing system. Please also refer to LEED-NC v2.1 CIR rulings dated 10/18/2004, 6/17/2004 and 5/7/2005 for additional guidance on this. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
4/21/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

We are consulting for a 460,000 sqft school in Manhattan, New York City. We would like to obtain the EQc4.4 credit by using composite wood products that are free from added urea-formaldehyde resins. A small fraction of the composite wood on the project consists of veneered paneling that, because if its location in the building, must have a fire-retardant substrate. We are aware of two UF-free fire-retardant panels on the market. One of these products is not approved for use in New York City. The other substrate, which is approved by the New York City Fire Department, has an intumescent fire-retardant coating. Unfortunately, experience has proved that adhesives without added urea formaldehyde do not reliably adhere to this intumescent surface. The manufacturer does not provide a guarantee of attachment if other adhesives are used. While market transformation is occurring, the pace is sometimes not rapid enough to affect such specialty products. We are blocked from obtaining the credit for UF-free composite materials by a small fraction of material that cannot be made UF-free. Even if a compliant substrate were available somewhere, procurement issues may impede sole-sourcing it. With a limited budget, if this credit is not obtainable, the school may have to pursue another credit that it considers less desirable. We request that USGBC consider allowing a small fraction - we suggest 5% - of the composite wood on the project to be exempted from the credit requirement. Not requiring 100% compliance is consistent with other MR and IEQ credits. With the current requirement, even a minute amount of non-compliant material removes the incentive to meet the intent of the credit.

Ruling:

Per CIR ruling dated 8/13/2008 and 3/10/2009, all composite wood products that are contained within the exterior moisture protection barrier of a building must comply with the requirements of this credit. Please also refer to LEED-NC v2.1 CIR rulings dated 10/18/2004, 6/17/2004 and 5/7/2005 for additional guidance on this. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Do Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) laminates fall under the requirements for "on-site and shop-applied composite wood and agrifiber assemblies?" Because Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) is technically a paper product and not a "plastic" product, we would appreciate additional clarification whether TFM paper products applied in the manufacturing process fall within the scope of this credit.

Ruling:

No, Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) laminates do not need to be included in this credit. Laminates are not covered in the scope of this credit. Internationally Applicable.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
8/13/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

This project consists of (2) wings of (3) story wood framed buildings. The wood beams (LVL\'s) do have urea formaldehyde in the glue resins. The wood structure was able to "off-gas" for a period of time until building was weather-tight. Is credit still achievable due to the "off-gassing"? The framing started July 24, 2007 and completed November 15, 2007. The framing was open to the elements for the course of 60-90 days depending on the enclosure period. We believe this is adequate time for the off-gassing cycle. Equally, we have conducted Air Quality testing during construction and have not had excessive VOC content within the building. We are in our final stages of IAQ testing and preliminary reports are coming back successful. Please advise.

Ruling:

In order to meet the credit requirements, all products within the weatherproofing system must not contain any added urea-formaldehyde. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
See all forum discussions about this credit »

Checklists

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Documentation toolkit

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Credit achievement rate

XX%

Upgrade to LEEDuser Premium to see how many projects achieved this credit. Try it free »

LEEDuser expert

Brent Ehrlich

BuildingGreen
Products and materials specialist

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USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Intent

To reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and/or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants.

Requirements

Composite wood and agrifiber products used on the interior of the building (i.e., inside the weatherproofing system) must contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins. Laminating adhesives used to fabricate on-site and shop-applied composite wood and agrifiber assemblies must not contain added urea-formaldehyde resins. Composite wood and agrifiber products are defined as particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, wheatboard, strawboard, panel substrates and door cores. Materials considered fixtures, furniture and equipment (FF&E) are not considered base building elements and are not included.Products covered by IEQ Credit 4.5, Low-Emitting Materials, System Furniture and Seating are excluded from these requirements.

Credit substitution available
You may use the LEED v4 version of this credit on v2009 projects. For more information check out this article.

XX%

Upgrade to LEEDuser Premium to see how many projects achieved this credit. Try it free »

Got the gist of IEQc4.4 but not sure how to actually achieve it? LEEDuser gives step-by-step help. Premium members get:

  • Checklists covering all the key action steps you'll need to earn the credit.
  • Hot tips to give you shortcuts and avoid pitfalls.
  • Cost tips to assess what a credit will actually cost, and how to make it affordable.
  • Ideas for going beyond LEED with best practices.
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In the end, LEED is all about documentation. LEEDuser’s Documentation Toolkit, for premium members only, saves you time and helps you avoid mistakes with:

  • Calculators to help assess credit compliance.
  • Tracking spreadsheets for materials purchases.
  • Spreadsheets and forms to give to subs and other team members.
  • Guidance documents on arcane LEED issues.
  • Sample templates to help guide your narratives and LEED Online submissions.
  • Examples of actual submissions from certified LEED projects.

Our project is planning to use no composite wood products. Do we automatically earn this credit?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

We have a product that complies with very stringent E1 and E0 European standards for low emissions. Does this product comply with this credit?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

10/1/2012Updated: 2/14/2015
Global ACP
Description of change:
Replace the definition of "urea-formaldehyde" with "a combination of urea and formaldehyde used in some glues and adhesives, particularly in composite wood products. At room temperature, ureaformaldehyde emits formaldehyde, a toxic and possibly carcinogenic gas."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

To comply with CARB, some composite wood manufacturers are switching from urea formaldehyde resins to:a. Melamine urea formaldehyde with urea formaldehyde added as a "scavenger" to bond with residual un-bonded formaldehyde molecules attempting to reduce formaldehyde off-gassing. b. Melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger. These resins are being marketed as "melamine formaldehyde" and compliant with LEED\'s no added urea formaldehyde IEQ4.4 credit requirements. While resulting composite wood products made with these resin technologies may be CARB compliant, the question arises as to the use of these resins being compliant with LEED IEQc4.4. Phenol formaldehyde and MDI have long been proven to be the best resin options to urea formaldehyde to prevent formaldehyde off-gassing, so utilizing resins with urea that formulate urea-formaldehyde either prior to going in the end product, or within the end product, seems counter to the intent of this LEED credit. Are melamine urea formaldehyde with added urea formaldehyde acting as a scavenger, and melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger to bond with loose formaldehyde within a product, acceptable resin technologies considered compliant with LEED EQc4.4?

Ruling:

Revised ***4/1/2013*** Products using melamine urea formaldehyde (MUF) with added urea formaldehyde acting as a scavenger or melamine formaldehyde with urea added as a scavenger to bond with loose formaldehyde within a product do not automatically meet the credit requirements for IEQ credit 4.4. If the composite wood product using MUF can meet the testing requirements and is found compliant with the California Air Resource Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120 requirements for no-added formaldehyde based resins or the requirements for ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde resins (ULEF), the product can contribute to IEQ credit 4.4. Previously, it was unclear how melamine fit within the scope of this credit. This ruling is intended to clarify how to address melamine, not prematurely adopt the LEED v4 credit language for composite wood. Therefore, composite wood products using other amino resins must meet the no added urea-formaldehyde requirements of LEED 2009. Applicable internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
3/10/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is an office building with multiple stores where most of the occupied areas are open spaces. We intend to apply wood-based products in the technical floor (access floor). In accordance with LEED-NC V2.2, wood-based products inside the waterproofing system should not contain any urea-formaldehyde-based resins. This requirement is reasonably supported by the assumption that only the materials inside waterproofing system can have emissions for the interior environment. However if one material is applied inside the waterproofing system but is enclosed inside a waterproofing material, can this be considered out of the scope for this credit? The access floor squares will be made out of a wood particleboard core encapsulated inside an aluminum box and supported on metal supports, to allow the passage of all the cables and wires. This box will then be covered with the surfacing material. The function of the wood-based board is to give the necessary stiffness and bending strength to the whole assembly and, therefore, it will be totally enclosed inside this waterproofing box in order to avoid moisture penetration, what could interfere with the material performance. Therefore, we believe that this wood-based panel application guarantees that no eventual VOC emission can be allowed and, therefore, we\'d like to ask permission to apply this solution in the above mentioned project. In addition, please also note that this board is independently certified as E1 class, which is the class with the lowest level of formaldehyde emissions according with the European Standard EN 13986.

Ruling:

As noted in CIR ruling dated 8/13/2008, all products within the weatherproofing system must not contain any added urea-formaldehyde, regardless of whether the product is encapsulation within a waterproofing system. Please also refer to LEED-NC v2.1 CIR rulings dated 10/18/2004, 6/17/2004 and 5/7/2005 for additional guidance on this. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
4/21/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

We are consulting for a 460,000 sqft school in Manhattan, New York City. We would like to obtain the EQc4.4 credit by using composite wood products that are free from added urea-formaldehyde resins. A small fraction of the composite wood on the project consists of veneered paneling that, because if its location in the building, must have a fire-retardant substrate. We are aware of two UF-free fire-retardant panels on the market. One of these products is not approved for use in New York City. The other substrate, which is approved by the New York City Fire Department, has an intumescent fire-retardant coating. Unfortunately, experience has proved that adhesives without added urea formaldehyde do not reliably adhere to this intumescent surface. The manufacturer does not provide a guarantee of attachment if other adhesives are used. While market transformation is occurring, the pace is sometimes not rapid enough to affect such specialty products. We are blocked from obtaining the credit for UF-free composite materials by a small fraction of material that cannot be made UF-free. Even if a compliant substrate were available somewhere, procurement issues may impede sole-sourcing it. With a limited budget, if this credit is not obtainable, the school may have to pursue another credit that it considers less desirable. We request that USGBC consider allowing a small fraction - we suggest 5% - of the composite wood on the project to be exempted from the credit requirement. Not requiring 100% compliance is consistent with other MR and IEQ credits. With the current requirement, even a minute amount of non-compliant material removes the incentive to meet the intent of the credit.

Ruling:

Per CIR ruling dated 8/13/2008 and 3/10/2009, all composite wood products that are contained within the exterior moisture protection barrier of a building must comply with the requirements of this credit. Please also refer to LEED-NC v2.1 CIR rulings dated 10/18/2004, 6/17/2004 and 5/7/2005 for additional guidance on this. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Do Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) laminates fall under the requirements for "on-site and shop-applied composite wood and agrifiber assemblies?" Because Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) is technically a paper product and not a "plastic" product, we would appreciate additional clarification whether TFM paper products applied in the manufacturing process fall within the scope of this credit.

Ruling:

No, Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM) laminates do not need to be included in this credit. Laminates are not covered in the scope of this credit. Internationally Applicable.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
8/13/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

This project consists of (2) wings of (3) story wood framed buildings. The wood beams (LVL\'s) do have urea formaldehyde in the glue resins. The wood structure was able to "off-gas" for a period of time until building was weather-tight. Is credit still achievable due to the "off-gassing"? The framing started July 24, 2007 and completed November 15, 2007. The framing was open to the elements for the course of 60-90 days depending on the enclosure period. We believe this is adequate time for the off-gassing cycle. Equally, we have conducted Air Quality testing during construction and have not had excessive VOC content within the building. We are in our final stages of IAQ testing and preliminary reports are coming back successful. Please advise.

Ruling:

In order to meet the credit requirements, all products within the weatherproofing system must not contain any added urea-formaldehyde. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes

LEEDuser expert

Brent Ehrlich

BuildingGreen
Products and materials specialist

See all LEEDuser forum discussions about this credit » Subscribe to new discussions about CI-2009 IEQc4.4