The Strong and Sustainable Solution for K-12 School Lockers

Satisfy durability demands and sustainability criteria in any school corridor
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Sponsored by Scranton Products
Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts

Sustainability Certifications

In the design and construction industry, the sustainable design benefits of a product have become such an enticing and effective sales pitch that questions of legitimacy have been raised in response to some of the green performance claims being made in promotional materials. Third-party certification programs provide valuable verification services, substantiating aspects of green performance and reducing the opportunity for design professionals to be swayed by false or exaggerated claims of sustainability.

One example where standards and certifications have been developed to measure and substantiate green performance claims is on the topic of VOC emissions. Many green building programs attempt to protect the indoor air quality of a building by minimizing the presence of building products and furnishings that emit VOCs, or, more precisely, that emit VOCs over a certain level that has been determined as acceptable. The dominant standard that defines the acceptable product emission levels and testing practices is the State of California's Department of Public Health “Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010)”, often referred to as simply CA 01350.

Many building codes and green building rating systems call for the use of products with VOC emission levels that meet the acceptable thresholds outlined in CA 01350. These products are often termed low-emitting products or materials. However, the prevalence of this sustainable design objective has also driven marketers to promote their products and materials as being low emitting. Instead of blindly trusting manufacturer claims, which may be misleading, or spending the time to independently validate the emissions performance of the products under consideration, specifiers could select products that had been awarded a certification validating that the product performs in compliance with the CA 01350 standard.

GREENGUARD certification programs evaluate the VOC emission levels of a product, quantifying the amount of potentially harmful pollutants released into the indoor air by building products, furniture, flooring and cleaners. Products that meet stringent chemical emission limits are certified by GREENGUARD and deemed a low-emitting product. There are two levels of GREENGUARD certification: GREENGUARD and the more stringent GREENGUARD Gold.

GREENGUARD Gold Certification

GREENGUARD Gold certification, previously referred to as GREENGUARD Children and Schools, includes safety factors to account for sensitive individuals such as children and the elderly and ensures that a product is acceptable for use in schools and healthcare facilities, where this more sensitive audience may experience prolonged exposure. In addition to limiting emissions of over 360 VOCs and total chemical emissions, products are certified GREENGUARD Gold if they are found to comply with the requirements of CA 01350.

GREENGUARD Gold certification is referenced by both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) green rating system and the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS).

HDPE Lockers are GREENGUARD Gold Certified

HDPE lockers have earned GREENGUARD Gold certification and are recognized as low-emitting material. VOC emissions from HDPE lockers fall below limits set by CA 01350. These products are deemed safe and appropriate for use in schools and healthcare facilities where sensitive individuals may spend prolonged periods of time.

HDPE lockers have earned GREENGUARD Gold certification and are recognized as a low-emitting material.

Photo courtesy of Scranton Products. Cologne Academy, Cologne, MN.

HDPE lockers have earned GREENGUARD Gold certification and are recognized as a low-emitting material.

Green Building Program Contributions

Combine the sustainable attributes of the HDPE locker product, such as recycled content, being recyclable and offering ingredient disclosure forms, with the already attained GREENGUARD Gold certification, and it becomes easier to see how this product could contribute toward multiple sustainable design criteria.

Today, there are many green building rating systems designed to address specific building types. Two of the most prominent guidelines for designing green schools are the LEED v4 Schools rating system and the design practices and criteria provided by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). The HDPE locker product can contribute toward achieving green designations in both systems.

LEED v4 Schools Credit Contribution

The LEED v4 Schools green building rating system, introduced by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a guide for achieving various levels of LEED certification in K-12 schools and buildings used for higher education, addressing the specialized requirements unique to this type of application. The rating system considers various aspects of green building from the sustainability of the site, to water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials use, and indoor environmental quality.

Selecting HDPE lockers for a school corridor can contribute toward earning three of the LEED v4 School credits: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients, Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials, and Low Emitting Materials.

Building product fisclosure and optimization—material ingredients. The HPD for the HDPE lockers can serve as documentation for one of the 20 total products that need to demonstrate the chemical inventory of the product under Option 1 of this credit. The intent of this credit is to reward project teams for selecting products for which the chemical ingredients are inventoried using an accepted methodology and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances. An HPD is considered an acceptable method for disclosing the inventory of ingredients.

Building product disclosure and optimization—sourcing of raw materials. HDPE lockers are available in a wide range of options that offer different amounts of post-industrial and post-consumer recycled content. Specifying HDPE lockers with recycled content onto a project can contribute toward the total necessary to earn the credit, through Option 2, where at least 25 percent, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed building products on a project satisfy at least one of the responsible extraction criteria such as being a bio-based material, being a wood product certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, containing recycled content, etc.

Low emitting materials. HDPE lockers have earned the GREENGUARD Gold certification verifying that the product emissions are compliant with the requirements of the CA 01350 and that the product is adequately considered a low emitting material. As such, these lockers can contribute toward the 90 percent threshold, by cost, of the low-emitting furniture necessary to satisfy the credit.

Contribution toward the Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (CHPS)

CHPS is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 as a collaboration of California utilities determined to address energy efficiency in schools. The program quickly expanded to address school design, construction and operation and opened membership up to interested parties outside of the state of California. In October 2014, CHPS launched the latest version of its CHPS Criteria high performance rating system called US-CHPS. This newest version is specifically designed to be used in every state and the District of Columbia, expanding the reach of the program beyond the thirteen state-specific programs that had existed previously.

Even the latest version of the rating system for high performance schools, US-CHPS, contains two credits that focus on the use of low-emitting materials in schools. The credit entitled Low Emitting Materials is a pre-requisite for certification and additional points are available under the credit entitled Additional Low Emitting Materials. The credit offers a few avenues for identifying appropriate low emitting products and materials. One method of compliance is to specify products that are GREENGUARD certified. Specifying GREENGUARD Gold certified products, such as the HDPE lockers, will contribute toward earning these credits.

Student lockers are hardworking pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, the traditional metal locker has material limitations that make it unable to withstand some of the regular wear and tear inherent in a K-12 location. The new HDPE lockers offer specifiers solutions that will more successfully survive impacts, weather moisture exposure without rusting, and improve maintenance overhead by allowing graffiti to be easily wiped away. Beyond its durability benefits, HDPE lockers provide considerable support for sustainable design objectives and can contribute toward earning green certifications from some of the premiere school-specific green building rating systems. Student lockers made from HDPE are really hardworking pieces of equipment.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in January 2015