The choice of healthy construction materials became a major issue in the mid-twentieth century, as builders began using toxic, artificial products, while also sealing buildings as tightly as they could.
Sealed buildings conserve energy, of course. However, they also trap harmful gases. When toxic materials are used in construction, indoor air quality can actually reach urban pollution levels.
The culprit is VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Products high in VOCs continue off-gassing long after they’re installed, damaging your long-term health and bearing a daily impact on your your mental clarity, productivity and mood.
So, it’s important to select a healthy product – especially since finishes are found just about everywhere in your home, from floors to cabinets to light fixtures.
LEED (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a nationally accepted, third-party rating system which awards points for outstanding green performance in six categories, including Indoor Environmental Air Quality, Materials & Resources, and Energy & Atmosphere.
With enough points, a home can be LEED-certified at the Silver, Gold or Platinum level. For example, see Clarum’s gold-certified Hansen Lane community in Danville, CA; or our platinum-certified townhome project in Palo Alto, Cambridge Plaza.
To accrue points, interior finishes must not exceed certain VOC limits. Here’s a list of some common finishes, with LEED requirements noted. (However, requirements may change. For the most updated figures, please visit the USGBC website).
VOC limits for other finishes include flat paints/primers, 50 g/L; non-flat paints/primers, 150 g/L; floor coatings, 100 g/L; waterproofing sealants, 250 g/L; sanding sealants, 275 g/L; and other sealants, 200 g/L.
At Clarum, we’re very proud of our LEED-certified homes. For a home that adds to your health every day with clean, safe air to breathe, consider us your building experts.
Talk to us about building your new green home. Call Clarum at 650.322.7069.