School Hallway Lockers Made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

New fire code-approved HDPE plastic lockers provide green school advantages
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Sponsored by Scranton Products
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
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GREENGUARD Certification Programs
Beyond LEED, one of the better-known programs for certifying manufactured products as meeting green building standards is administered by the GREENGUARD organization. Originally established in 2001, GREENGUARD was acquired by UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) in 2011 in the interest of further advancing its mission of promoting global sustainability, environmental health, and safety. There are two green building product certification programs that they administer which are primarily focused on indoor air quality. The basic GREENGUARD Certification Program helps manufacturers create, and buyers identify, building products and materials that have measurably low levels of chemical emissions, thus protecting the quality of the air in which the products are used. All certified products under this program must meet stringent emission restriction standards based on established criteria for human chemical exposure.

The GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification ProgramSM establishes even stricter air quality criteria for products intended for use in schools, daycares, or other environments where children spend significant periods of time. It is referenced by both the Collaborative

for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and the LEED Rating Systems. Products certified to this standard are also suitable for use in environments where children and others work, play, or reside. There are HDPE lockers that have been certified under this GREENGUARD Children & Schools program based on their ability to address all of the following factors:

Body Burden Correction Factor. It is understood that children are more sensitive to environmental exposures than adults. Their young bodies including their brains are still growing and developing. Children breathe faster than adults and in return receive a higher dose of indoor pollution based on their body weight. To account for this greater inhalation exposure to young children, a body burden correction factor is used and applied to the basic GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® allowable levels. In order to achieve GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification, these lower allowable emissions criteria first must be met.

Chronic Reference Exposure Levels (CRELs). The exposure of children to individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is also addressed under the GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification. The basic allowable exposure levels to achieve certification have been notably adjusted to allow no more than 1/100 of the currently published Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and no greater than one-half of the California's Chronic Reference Exposure Levels (CRELs). In many cases, the 1/100 safety factor reduction of TLVs results in the most stringent requirements for an extensive range of VOCs. Further, a total VOC (or TVOC) maximum allowable limit is used that takes into account the complex mixture of all VOCs found to be emitting from a product, whether or not they are identified under a TLV or CREL. Hence, certification indicates a dramatically reduced VOC emission from the tested product.

Limits on Phthalates. Phthalates are high-production-volume chemicals used primarily as plasticizers in polyvinylchloride (PVC) products.

The U.S. EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals. Results from recent research indicate that inhalation is an important route of exposure to phthalates and that these chemicals have been associated with endocrine disorders, reproductive and developmental disorders, asthma, and allergies. Therefore, the GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification places strict limits on emissions of total phthalates, consisting of any of the following chemicals: dibutyl (DBP), diethylhexyl (DEHP), diethyl (DEP), dimethyl (DMP), butylbenzyl (BBP), and dioctyl (DOP).

Emission Controls for Educational and Healthcare Environments
This standard is designed to define low-emitting materials suitable for environments where people, particularly children and sensitive adults, spend extended periods of time, in particular schools and healthcare facilities.

Products that pass all of these stringent requirements demonstrating that they are safe for use around children earn the right to carry the GREENGUARD Children & Schools certification. Hence, it is a recognized way to determine that indoor air quality is not compromised by the use of a certified product. Therefore, HDPE lockers that carry this certification have been tested and proven to be safe for indoor air quality use not only around adults, but specifically around more sensitive young children.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in January 2014