The Impact of LEED v4.1 on Building Air Quality

Clean Air Is A Necessity For Human Life

Air quality in closed areas where he spends 90% of his time for human life is vital. One of the most basic needs of human health is clean and healthy air. EPA data show that buildings contain 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air. The environmental quality credits in the building volume of the LEED green building rating system help provide clean air for everyone to breathe.

Every human being has a right to a healthy, safe, sustainable environment and way of life. This essential living standard is something we can achieve with combined effort on many levels—in our communities, cities and nations and through global standards like the Global Covenant of Mayors and the Paris Agreement.


The Importance of Clean Indoor Air

According to the US EPA, people spend about 90% of their time indoors, where pollutant levels are generally higher than outside. The most vulnerable (young and old people, those with respiratory problems) usually spend more time inside a building's walls.


LEED certification is one way to ensure that our built environment supports wellness. This green building standard has always encouraged measurements and best practices for air quality, but with LEED v4.1, the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) credit category is even more customizable and clear about ways to construct places where our families and colleagues can safely live, learn, work and play.


Indoor environmental quality in LEED v4.1

Within the EQ category, LEED covers overall air quality control and assessment, tobacco smoke control, acoustics, low-emitting materials, construction air quality management, thermal comfort, lighting and views.

Meeting these standards, whether in an office building or a home, means filtering out pollutants and allergens from the outdoors, minimizing indoor VOCs and air toxins, and creating access to fresh airflow. These strategies improve occupants' respiratory health and comfort as they go about their day. In LEED v4.1, the standards have been revised to enable more project teams to participate.

The EQ prerequisites and credits in LEED v4.1 for Building Design and Construction (BD+C), for example, include the following updates:

  • Both mechanically and naturally ventilated spaces have updated instructions that include both ASHRAE requirements and monitoring strategies.

  • For indoor air quality testing, requirements now include separate credits for testing organic vs. inorganic compounds and focus on priority VOCs for indoor spaces.

  • Particulate air filter requirements have been updated to recognize the new ISO filter standard.

  • The low-emitting materials are structured into product categories, such as coatings, ceilings and insulation, to enable project teams to focus on the categories that work best for them or are most important for their particular project.

View the LEED v4.1 BD+C rating system with changes tracked.

Alignment with global goals

As USGBC has shared, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal "Good Health and Well-being" (SDG 3) includes many aspects of public health, one of which is the right of all people to breathe unpolluted air indoor and outdoors.

LEED can help achieve global health and well-being through standards related not just to EQ, but also to water, materials, waste and even LEED certification geared specifically to health care facilities.

Read a recent USGBC+ article on designing for human health.

Buildings are not just inanimate structures—they are part of the environment that encircles our lives. They can nurture us or harm us. At USGBC, we believe green buildings can help us grow.


USGBC Summarizes Its New Strategy Aiming Actions And Priorities That Will Shape A Healthier Future For All As Below:


USGBC shares the actions and priorities that will shape a healthier future for all.

The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come—on the economy, on people and on our way of life. Yet through it all, we’ve found ways to come together, to reinforce our bonds and to strengthen the connections that make us uniquely human. While cities across the globe work to flatten the curve and return to some sense of normalcy, we must face a new reality: The world we return to might look nothing like the one we’ve left behind. Fifty percent of the world’s population already lives below the poverty line, and the International Monetary Fund estimates that from 2020–2021, the cumulative global GDP loss from this pandemic could be around $9 trillion—greater than the economies of Japan and Germany combined. It is no secret that the most vulnerable among us will feel the gravest impacts. We’re going to have extraordinary mental, physical and financial health repercussions in nearly every part of society. In short, what is unfolding will challenge us in new and previously unthinkable ways. Remaining resilient—both in business and in life—will require every industry and individual to adapt at a pace we might never have thought possible. But what lies ahead is also a responsibility for us to design a more resilient future. It’s a chance for us to gather under the common banner of humanity and champion a better quality of life for millions of people around the world. USGBC and its members are already the leaders in building sustainably. We believe that healthy people in healthy places are the fastest way to build a healthy economy. And the global pandemic has only made our beliefs that much stronger and our mission that much more vital. We don’t have to choose between public health and a healthy economy. The future will require both to thrive. That is why, going forward, we will prioritize our efforts to build people’s trust that their spaces are healthy and have a positive impact—not only on them, but on the economy at large. In other words, our second generation at USGBC will focus on our relevant and reimagined vision:

Healthy people in healthy places equals a healthy economy.

This is a once-in-a lifetime crisis, but it's also a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to fulfill that vision by asking the right questions and discovering the most equitable, inclusive and innovative solutions: How will we build a healthier, more sustainable future for current and future generations to honor the lives lost? How will we rebuild our economy and replace unprecedented job losses around the world? How will we remain resilient against future threats to our global health, like climate change? And how can we ensure the trust people have in feeling safe and healthy in the spaces where they live, work, learn and play? That is why USGBC is outlining a series of actions and priorities that will support the global recovery effort and leverage the power of our community to shape a healthier future for all. Learn more about our new vision.

ECOBUILD was established in 2009. LEED AP BD + C, LEED AP ND, WELL AP, Envision SP, Climate Planner accredited by having a professional identity, its experience in national and international projects in Turkey and abroad;

  • LEED Green Building Certificate

  • Training Programs: Green Building, Healthy Building and Green Urbanism

  • Healthy Building Design Resistant to Pandemic and Infection

  • Climate Change Action Plan

  • City Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

  • Green Urban Transformation

  • Green Urbanism LEED for Cities

  • Sites Certificate Environmentally Friendly Green Areas and Parks

  • WELL Healthy Building Certificate

  • WELL HSR Covid-19 Healthy Building Certificate

  • ENVISION Green Infrastructure Projects Certificate

  • Green Building Materials

  • Green Star Green Hotel Certificate

  • Building Energy Efficiency and Energy Model

  • Building Acoustics

  • offers consultancy services in the titles.

ECOBUILD has provided services to more than 150 institutions and companies in 8 different countries. You can also contact us.

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