Washington DC

  • 7 Urban-Large City
  • ​2 Urban-Small City
  • ​1 Not provided
  • 1 Non-profit
  • 3 For profit
  • 6 Not provided
  • 3 New Construction
  • ​7 Rehab

Flooring

Flooring
Data Summary

  • 90% of projects specified vinyl flooring somewhere in the building.
  • ​One project (10%) excluded resilient vinyl flooring in their specifications, instead specifying carpet and ceramic tile.
  • About 80% of projects specified carpeting. All of these required Green Label Plus certification. (This industry-backed certification only covers some VOC emissions; some hazardous VOC and all non-VOC chemicals are excluded.)
  • ​Almost half of projects specifying carpet included a recycled content requirement (either pre- or post-consumer).
  • ​Most carpet specifications called for a stain or soil resistant treatment.
  • ​Other types of flooring specified (most likely in a common area) include: solid wood, laminate, biobased resilient flooring, and PVC-free resilient flooring.
  • ​About three quarters of projects specified flooring adhesive VOC limits consistent with the SCAQMD 1168 requirements.
  • ​When specified, carpet pads were either rebond, prime polyurethane, or rubber.

Specification Recommendations

  • Prefer non-vinyl flooring products.  
  • ​When vinyl is used: Specify phthalate-free; avoid post-consumer recycled content.
  • ​For rubber flooring: Avoid post‐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

  • Over half of projects set VOC limits of <50 g/L flat and <150 g/L non-flat bases.
  • ​About a third of projects had more strict VOC requirements for paints at <50 g/L for bases of all sheens, and a third required <10 g/L for at least some sheens.
  • ​​None of the projects included VOC requirements for tints.
  • ​20% of the projects specified paint to meet the chemical restriction requirements of the Green Seal-11 (GS-11) standard.

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

  • About a quarter of projects specified recycled content requirements that make it likely synthetic gypsum would be required to meet the specification.
  • ​No projects specified natural gypsum as a requirement.

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

  • Most projects specified use of fiber glass batt insulation.
  • ​About 50% of projects specified formaldehyde-free fiber glass batts. As of October 2015, all residential fiber glass batt insulation made in the U.S. is formaldehyde-free.

Specification Recommendations

  • 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

  • All projects specified laminate countertops somewhere.
  • ​About half of projects specified cultured marble in the bathroom.
  • ​About half of projects specified quartz or solid surface as either an alternate or in a common area.
  • ​60% of projects specified substrates with NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde).

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 reapplied 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

  • About 80% of projects specified NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) composite wood products.
  • ​Most of the projects specified a particular manufacturer and product or product line.
  • ​Nearly all projects specified cabinets with a factory finish.
  • ​One project (10%) specified a laminate (HPL or melamine) finish for exterior faces, with an additional 60% specifying laminate only for interior surfaces.
  • 80% of projects specified wood trim/base in some locations.
  • ​Half of projects specified rubber wall base in some locations. 30% specified vinyl wall base.
  • ​20% of projects specified MDF for trim in some locations or as an alternative to wood. All of these required the MDF to be NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde).

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.

Doors

Doors
Data Summary

  • Two-thirds of projects specified doors with a composite core, and about half specified hollow core doors with a composite face.
  • ​About 65% of projects that included wood doors with composite core or facing specified NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde).
  • ​Only 1 project specified a particular product or series; the others provided general information about which materials should be used and often included approved manufacturers.
  • ​Almost half of projects specified at least some factory finished wood doors.

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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