BREEAM Norway: VOC testing specifications now revised
18 January 2013
Recently Norwegian Green Building Council NGBC published a national version of the UK originated program for certification of sustainable buildings, BREEAM.
The additional VOC related requirements contain a number of testing needs and limit values in addition to the original BREEAM UK approach:
- Formaldehyde E1 (EN 717-1) , and Finnish M1 testing and compliance, for all solid products
- EN 13999-1 testing of carcinogens and sensitizers after 1 day (should be absent then), and Finnish M1 testing and compliance, for flooring adhesives
- Finnish M1 testing and compliance for sealants
- ISO 16000-10 FLEC testing after 3 days (but without limit values) for wall coatings
M1 testing would require TVOC, formaldehyde, ammonia and odour testing, all after 28 days.
Many manufacturers provide very low emitting products but have not tested these after non-Finnish standards, only for AgBB, EMICODE, Blue Angel, Indoor Air Comfort etc. Acceptance only of M1 tests by BREEAM Norway would have meant, on top of AgBB, EMICODE etc:
- Double testing of VOC and formaldehyde (once for Europe, once for BREEAM Norway)
- Ammonia testing
- Odour testing
- Exclusion of most sealants (because small surfaces such as sealants are confronted with extremely sharp limit values in the Finnish system, much tougher than large surfaces such as walls).
Some industries and construction firms opposed these limitations, they requested acceptance of alternative pathways in line with European state-of-the-art. Eurofins Products Testing A/S was requested to deliver some technical and scientific argumentation supporting that initiative. Some of the requested modifications were implemented by NGBC early in 2013:
Updates concerning emissions from products:
BREEAM Norway now wants to avoid unnecessary double testing and accepts equivalent tests where available, and as far as these are mentioned on their website. This means in detail, as can be read in the FAQ (in Norwegian language):
- E1 test of floorings and ceilings: If the product does not contain formaldehyde, then no EN 717-1 test is required, only a written documentation on absence of formaldehyde is needed; this can apply to e.g. vinyl floorings, or to wooden plates with a formaldehyde-free binder.
- M1 odour test is not compulsory; it should be performed only "if relevant".
- Ammonia test can be skipped if an ammonia test is not relevant; this means if no ammonia is traceable in the product, and if there are no ingredients that can generate and release ammonia. This will be the case for the very most products but must be decided and justified by the manufacturer.
- EMICODE E1 or EC1PLUS is regarded equivalent and can replace the M1-like VOC test for flooring adhesives. But the EN 13999 test after 24h is required additionally.
- EMICODE EC1PLUS is regarded equivalent and can replace the M1 VOC test for sealants. EMICODE EC1 will not do.
There was another initiative going for that wall coatings could also be tested in a test chamber (ISO 16000-9, as is the state-of-the-art across Europe and the world), not only with a FLEC cell (ISO 16000-10, as specified in BREEAM NOR until now), but any such modification has not yet been published.
You can see the specifications, and any update ocurring, in the web at www.eurofins.com/BREEAM-NOR.