How Does LEED Construction Impact Health and Safety
In working through the LEED rating system requirements there are particular areas to which the health and safety manager should pay attention. Granted there are many positives to building green and LEED certification. But, potential negatives exist as well. By increasing our awareness and putting thought into these issues at the beginning, we can minimize or possibly eliminate them from our green building project.
LEED for New Construction impacts building occupants directly in two key areas. The first one is Building Commissioning contained in the Energy and Atmosphere section. Commissioning is the process by which the building systems are verified as installed, calibrated, and operating according to design. Since this includes the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system (HVAC) it is important that a knowledgeable person review the test and balance and commissioning reports.
The entire Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) section is aimed at providing for building occupant well-being. Two pre-requisites must be met: minimum IAQ performance and control of ETS (environmental tobacco smoke). Additional credits are awarded for use of low emitting materials, controlling indoor chemical and pollutant sources, and implementing an IAQ management plan prior to occupancy.
As industrial hygienists and consultants, we have worked to solve indoor environmental quality problems since the late 1980s. We still face architectural features and design issues that lead to IEQ problems on a regular basis. Flat roofs, internally insulated ductwork, porous wall finishes in high moisture areas, improperly installed (or missing) vapor barriers, and poor access to ventilation equipment for maintenance are a few of the most common ones. Unfortunately, IEQ experts and industrial hygienists in particular have had little, if any, input into developing the LEED rating systems. Therefore, although the premise of LEED certification is a very good first step, we should continue striving to improve on this process. Industrial hygienists and IEQ experts need to be involved in your construction or renovation project.