Project Highlight – Energy Star Certification

Case Study – Alternative Option for Energy Star Certification of Existing Buildings


Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. (IEC) worked with CB Richard Ellis in utilizing an alternative method to comply with requirements in the Energy Star certification process. The building tested was an existing and occupied ten floor office building in a suburban location.

Testing was conducted to comply with an alternative option for Energy Star certification utilizing the ASHRAE Standard 62.1 2007 compliance path in Section 6.3 “Indoor Air Quality  (IAQ) Procedure”. Since the HVAC system was already existing in the building, compliance with the “Indoor Air Quality Procedure” was demonstrated by measuring specific contaminant levels and demonstrating that these levels were below the target levels that would have been   used for design. Contaminants tested included formaldehyde, particulates, carbon monoxide, ozone, radon, and lead. IEC chose to use the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) EQ 3.2 maximum contaminant levels as target levels to determine compliance with formaldehyde, particulates (PM10), and carbon monoxide. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines were used for target level for ozone, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines were used for target levels for radon and lead.

Sampling Plan:

One sample location was identified on each floor of the building and included areas with least ventilation and greatest presumed source strength. Samples were collected for formaldehyde, lead, and total particulates (in lieu of Particulates PM 10) utilizing standard indoor air quality methods. Field blanks were collected for formaldehyde, lead, and total particulates. Additionally, the Aircuity Optima Facility Performance Monitor was used to conduct real-time monitoring for large particulates, small particulates, carbon dioxide (CO2) carbon monoxide (CO), radon, ozone, total volatile organic compounds (TVOC Index), temperature, and relative humidity. Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity were also data-logged for a period of four  hours utilizing the Q-Trak IAQ Data Logger.

Target Levels:

The USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program has established the following maximum concentration levels that must not be exceeded in order to meet LEED EQ 3.2 certification criteria for new buildings:


Maximum Concentration

Formaldehyde 50 parts per billion (27 ppb in LEED 2009 NC)
Particulates (PM10) 50 micrograms per cubic meter
Carbon Monoxide 9 parts per million and no greater than 2 parts per million above outdoor levels

Target level for ozone is 0.05 ppm or less based on a World Health Organization (WHO) guideline. Target level for radon is 4 pCi/L or less based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines. Target level for lead is 0.015 mg/m3 or less based on the EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).


Results of the formaldehyde, total particulates, and carbon monoxide sampling in the building were found to be within the LEED maximum concentration criteria during the evaluation period. No detectable levels of lead or radon were measured. Large particulates, small particulates, TVOC Index, and ozone levels were well below outdoor levels, and were found to be within suggested guidelines. Based on the sampling plan and the analytical results the facility met the requirements of Option 2 of the EQ Credit 3.2 under LEED for New Construction version 2.2 and other indoor air quality target levels which would define an acceptable indoor environment.

Utilizing this alternative option our client was able to easily and cost effectively demonstrate compliance with the Energy Star requirements. If you are working on your Energy Star certification or are looking into LEED certification for your existing building through LEED EB or LEED O&M please give Hollis Horner a call at 512-637-1831 or email your interest to