Kentwood and Indoor Air Quality

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Kentwood’s Air Quality Program: Going Beyond Carb to CA Section 01350.

At Kentwood, we’ve always set our own standards for product quality, and we’ve always set them very high.

Every one of our products is manufactured to precisely the specifications we dictate, and we have created an exhaustive and elaborate quality control program to ensure that they are met. Consistently high product quality is one of the principal reasons that, in a little over a decade, Kentwood has become an internationally recognized flooring brand.

We also set our own standards when it comes to air quality and formaldehyde emissions, topics which are very much on customers’ minds these days. We go far beyond what regulations require to ensure our products are meeting the strictest air quality standards.

Where applicable, we use only CARB Certified core material in our products. We have our own quality control inspectors on site at all our manufacturing facilities and we employ a full time Environmental Compliance Officer to monitor and verify that the materials used are meeting CARB technical and documentation requirements. That includes random testing of the core material by Benchmark International, an independent US-based leader in emissions testing. So when we put a CARB Compliant label on a product, we know it’s the real thing.

But CARB has limited application where Kentwood floors are concerned. It only measures formaldehyde, and only what is emitted from composite core material, which is only used in certain styles of our engineered flooring.

We opted for a more comprehensive solution to the air quality issue: we test our engineered flooring against CA Section 01350, the California air quality standard that is considered the strictest in the world. The testing is conducted by independent third parties to ensure unbiased and verifiable results.

Independently tested, independently verified

CA Section 01350 goes well beyond CARB. Its allowable formaldehyde emissions level is less than half of CARB’s. It tests for emissions from thousands of other chemicals in addition to formaldehyde. It tests the whole product, not just the core. And CA Section 01350 can be applied to all types of flooring products, not just those with a composite core.

We believe that CA Section 01350 is a much more comprehensive and conclusive indication of a product’s impact on indoor air quality than CARB. And LEED agrees; LEED and other green building programs consider CA Section 01350 to be the best indicator of a floor’s ability to contribute to good indoor air quality.

So when you see Kentwood products marked CA Section 01350 Compliant, you can be assured they have been tested against the strictest air quality standards in the world.

Kentwood. If it carries our name, it meets our standards.

For more on CARB and CA Section 01350, read on...

All About IAQ: Indoor Air Quality

One common method of determining IAQ is to look at the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), chemical compounds that can exist in the atmosphere.

VOCs occur naturally all around us: the scent of fresh cut grass, that ‘new car smell’, the odor at the gas pump are all VOCs. We inhale and exhale VOCs with every breath we take. There are thousands of different VOCs in the environment. Most are harmless but some have the potential to cause health problems, depending on the level of exposure. One such VOC is formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde occurs naturally everywhere in the environment: in plants and trees, in animals – including humans. Our bodies naturally produce and process formaldehyde everyday. It’s a bit like sunlight; a certain amount is essential to good health, but over-exposure can be harmful. Accordingly, IAQ programs tend to set limits on how much formaldehyde is permitted in interior spaces.

When measuring formaldehyde, it is important to make a distinction between content and emissions. As formaldehyde is a natural constituent of wood, all hardwood flooring naturally has some latent formaldehyde content. Additional formaldehyde may be introduced during manufacturing. But IAQ programs are concerned mainly with emissions, not content. They’re not looking at what is put into the product, but what is coming out of it.

Kentwood engineered floors utilize three core construction types. Plywood and MDF are CARB certifiable materials; lumber core is not. But all three construction methods are strictly regulated by Kentwood.

Comparing Protocols

Currently there are two widely recognized standards for measuring emissions from manufactured building materials: CARB and CA Section 01350. (Both originated in California but are being used nationally in the US; the Canadian Standards Association has also developed a voluntary standard based on CARB).

CARB does not regulate flooring directly; rather CARB sets limits on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products – namely plywood, fiberboard (MDF) and particle board. These materials are used as cores in certain styles of Kentwood engineered flooring. All Kentwood floors produced with plywood and MDF core components are CARB P2 Compliant for formaldehyde emissions. (Kentwood floors produced with lumber cores are also tested to CARB standards, even though this is not a requirement.)

CA Section 01350 is a broader specification that goes beyond CARB in several ways:

  • It looks for the presence of thousands of different VOCs, not just formaldehyde
  • It tests the complete, finished product, not just one component.
  • It can be applied to lumber core engineered flooring, as well as CARB compliant construction styles
  • It can be applied to laminate, hardwood and LV products, even finishes and glues
  • It is also much stricter: CA Section 01350 allows less than half the level of formaldehyde emissions permitted by CARB

For all these reasons, CA Section 01350 is generally thought to be a better indicator of indoor air quality than CARB. CA Section 01350 is recognized by LEED and other green building programs as the standard for good indoor air quality. In addition, compliance with CA Section 01350 meets:

  • Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Reference Specifications for Energy and Resource Efficiency, CA Section 01350 Special Environmental Requirements.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.
  • ISO 14024 Environmental Labels and Declarations: Environmental Labeling Type I, Guiding Principles and Procedures.
  • ISO 14021 Environmental Labels and Declarations: Environmental Claims, Terms and Definitions (Type II).

Kentwood’s strict IAQ testing regime is just one aspect of our environmentally-focused product quality program.

For a copy of this information in pdf format, please click here.