15-0129 v2.1/Te Wharehou O Tuhoe/Air Quality Testing Alternative Method


Dear ILFI,
We would like confirmation that our suggested method for indoor air quality testing meets IMP-9 requirements. The reason for our query essentially arises from the fact that there has been a ‘soft landing’ into the building, where the owners have occupied the building before it is fully complete.

As you’re aware, the opening of the Tuhoe HQ building was held in February 2014, at this point Tuhoe staff started using the building as their offices and we received a Certificate of Public Use from the local council for them to do so. Testing showed that the mechanical system was significantly underperforming and we agreed it was necessary to remedy the mechanical issues before we conducted air quality testing. While this process has taken time, we now have a mechanical system which passes necessary tests and are in a position where quality testing can take place. In order to achieve results which mimic an uninhabited building we propose conducting testing overnight (when there will be no occupants in the building) with the mechanical system running as it would during the day.

The methods/equipment used for the sampling are:

CO - TSI QTrak (electrochemical cell)

CO2 - TSI QTrak (dual wave NDIR)

Temperature -TSI Qtrak (Thermistor)

Humidity - TSI QTrak (Thin Film Capacative Cell)

Particulate - DustTrak (Laser Photometer)

TVOC - Sampling method based on NIOSH 1500 (Hydrocarbons) using sorbent charcoal tube. Analysis carried out by Hill Laboratories 'Screening for unknown volatile organics' - extraction using carbon disulphide and analysis using GC-MS (including a library search to identify other compounds present for indicative concentrations). Where applicable these methods all follow the requirements of the US EPA Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Air Pollutants in Indoor Air with the exception of TVOC. This is a deviation of Method IP-1B, and requires confirmation that it is appropriate.

The testing guideline states that there should be one dataset for each 2320m3 which means that there would only be one sample for the whole building. However, it does state that is only valid where ‘the areas are served by the same or identical HVAC systems and have similar uses’. We have classified different uses as below:

Meeting Rooms




Meeting Room L1 (68m2)

Office L1 (277m2)

Library L1 (65m2)

Kitchen L1 (95m2)

Meeting Room L2 (42m2)

Office L2 (203m2)

Archive L1 (52m2)

Reception L1 (51m2)

Tribal Chamber (558m2)

Conservation L1 (31m2)

WC/Shower L1 and L2

Council Chamber (55m2)

Store L1 (17m2)

Link L1

Store L1 (15m2)

Circulation L1 and L2

We therefore think that following locations would be appropriate:

a) Meeting Room

b) Tribal Chamber

c) Office

d) Library, Kitchen or Reception

So, really this is a 3 part question.

1) Is the method to mimic an uninhabited building acceptable

2) Is our method for testing TVOC acceptable

3) Is our interpretation of ‘similar use’ and location of testing acceptable

Kind Regards,

The Team


1. By not conducting pre-occupancy air testing your project has not met the specific requirements laid out in the Standard. Therefore, it will be up to your auditor to determine whether you have met the intent of this Imperative even though the specific requirements were not met.

The intent of conducting two indoor air tests is to enable the team to analyze and assess why (if applicable) any space exceeds the recommended levels when they compare the pre and post-occupancy tests. If your post-occupancy test complies with the recommended levels you may be able to make a case to your auditor that you have met the intent. If the post-occupancy test does not comply then the project could chose to take actions to address the levels, then conduct a second test that would demonstrate that indoor air quality has been improved as a result of those actions.

It is not possible to mimic pre-occupancy conditions once the building has been occupied.

2. The testing requirements are outlined in the Indoor Air Quality Testing in the Living Building Challenge 1.3/2.0/2.1 document (https://ilbi.org/action/community/dialogue/health/imperative-nine/740197...). If the IAQ testing professional conducting the tests certifies that the methods used comply with those requirements, the testing methods will be approved by the auditor.

3. Yes, your outline of test locations is acceptable. Kitchens and bathrooms do not need to be tested.

Post ID 2060

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