Minnesota

  • 11 Urban
  • 7 Suburban
  • 3 Rural/Greater MN
  • 10 Non-profit
  • 6 For profit
  • 2 Public
  • 3 Not provided
  • 9 New Construction
  • 3 Rehabs
  • 2 Substantial Rehabs
  • 7 not provided

Flooring

Flooring
Data Summary

  • 100% of the MN housing units specified vinyl flooring.
  • 76% of projects specified carpeting, over half of which had carpets with CRI (The Carpet and Rug Institute) Green Label Certification. (This industry-backed certification is for VOC emissions only; non-VOC chemicals hazards are excluded).

Specification Recommendations

  • Prefer non-vinyl flooring products.  
  • When vinyl is used: Specify phthalate-free; avoid post-consumer recycled content.
  • For rubber flooring: Avoid postā€consumer recycled content (crumb rubber).
  • For carpets: Look for products that don’t use fluorinated stain-repellent treatments; specify backings that are vinyl-free and polyurethane-free and do not contain fly ash.
  • For ceramic tiles, prefer those made in the USA where most manufacturers have eliminated toxic lead compounds from ceramic tile glazes. Avoid post-consumer recycled content from CRTs (cathode ray tubes) which contain high concentrations of lead.

Paint

Paint
Data Summary

  • 74% of projects specified some level of VOC limit for paints
  • 57% of projects specified a low-VOC (less than 50g/L) ceiling paint.  
  • Most projects specified a VOC limit for paints used on walls and trim, but the limit was fairly high (100 g/L).
  • 3 projects specified paints with Green Seal certifications.

Specification Recommendations

  • Prefer paints that meet the Green Seal-11 (GS-11) standard from 2010 or later whenever possible or specify paints known to be free of alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).
  • Specify bases with 10 g/L of VOCs or less and colorants that do not increase the overall VOC content.
  • At a minimum, specify paint bases and colorants with a VOC content of 50g/L or less.
  • Look for paints that have VOC emission testing and meet the requirements of the CDPH (California Department of Public Health) Standard Method for Testing VOC Emissions (01350).

Drywall

Drywall
Data Summary

  • A majority of the projects specified a board type (e.g., moisture or mildew resistent), but only a few included requirements related to health or the environment.
  • 76% of projects specified orange peel wall texture.

Specification Recommendations

  • Specify boards made with natural gypsum.
  • If possible, avoid pre-consumer recycled content (also known as synthetic gypsum or FGD) to avoid the release of mercury in manufacture.

Insulation

Insulation
Data Summary

  • In total, 56 insulation products were specified in MN projects.
  • 42% of MN projects specify formaldehyde-free unfaced fiberglass batts.
  • 42% of MN projects specify spray polyurethane foam (SPF), but in gap sealing applications only.

Specification Recommendations

  • For batt insulation, specify residential fiber glass batt insulation -- it has been reformulated to be free of formaldehyde -- or formaldehyde-free mineral wool batts. Unfaced batts are most preferable.
  • For blown insulation, prefer cellulose or unbonded fiber glass.
  • Consider alternatives to rigid board insulation whenever possible. If board insulation is required, specify mineral wool boards and look for those that meet the requirements of CDPH (California Department of Public Health) Standard Method for Testing VOC Emissions (01350) for residential scenarios. If plastic foam insulation is used, look for those that are halogen-free. Consider upgrading to expanded cork insulation.
  • Avoid spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation whenever possible
  • For sealing applications, prefer caulking or sealant tapes to spray foams.

Countertops

Countertops
Data Summary

Two countertop materials dominate in Minnesota affordable housing projects:

  • Plastic laminate was specified for 88% of the kitchens.
  • Cultured marble (crushed limestone & polyester resin) was specified for 100% of the bathrooms

Specification Recommendations

  • Think of countertops as a system of products: the surface itself, an adhesive, and potentially a surface treatment, which may need to be re-applied regularly.  Each of these elements have different health concerns.
  • Sealant products can introduce hazardous chemicals.  Specify countertops that do not need to be sealed after installation, such as engineered stone, cultured marble, or solid surfacing.
  • Plastic laminate is not a top countertop choice, but if used, specify that the substrate be made with NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) or ULEF (Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde) resins.

Cabinetry & Millwork

Cabinetry & Millwork
Data Summary

  • Majority of projects specifying cabinets included the option of hardwood plywood construction. MDF and particleboard was used for shelves, drawers, and other components.
  • Most projects specified cabinet manufacturers, but did not include specific product lines.

Specification Recommendations

  • Prefer solid wood products over composite.
  • When using composite wood, specify materials that are NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) or ULEF (Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde) whenever possible.
  • Prefer products that are factory-finished.
  • For edge-banding, specify products with veneer rather than vinyl.

Doors

Doors
Data Summary

  • 86% of MN projects specified doors with composite cores
  • 24% of MN project specified doors with a factory finish
  • Only 1 MN project specified a particular product; the others provided general information about which materials should be used.

Specification Recommendations

  • Prefer solid wood products over composite.
  • When using composite wood, specify core materials that are NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) or ULEF (Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde) whenever possible.          
  • Prefer products that are factory-finished    
  • For edge-banding, specify products with veneer rather than vinyl.     

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