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Flush-out

This option requires that the building be flushed with a specified amount of
outdoor air (14,000 cubic feet per square foot of space) after construction
completion and that specific temperature and humidity conditions be
maintained in all areas of the building. Depending upon how soon after
construction occupancy needs to occur; there are two paths that can be
taken to implement the flush-out. The first path is a 100% flush-out
conducted before occupancy. The second path involves completing a
minimum of one-third of the flush-out before occupancy and two-thirds while
the building is occupied. If the second flush-out path is selected, there are
additional requirements for maintaining minimum outdoor air delivery rates
during the occupied flush-out phase. Generally, the flush-out process and
credit submission requirements can be managed by the project team (e.g.,
by the commissioning agent).
When considering the flush-out option you must evaluate the construction
schedule and the air handling system capacity to determine the amount of
time that will be required to complete the flush-out. In some buildings,
particularly during the summer and winter months, the capacity of the air-
handling system to deliver outdoor air and maintain indoor temperature and
humidity requirements is especially limited, resulting in flush-out time
periods that are not feasible. Weve found that for most buildings, either
flush-out path will require a minimum of one to two weeks (and can be
substantially longer) to complete after construction, but prior to occupancy,
and that this timeline is often prohibitive.
How to Perform a Flush

There are a host of general recommendations for performing an effective flush out of a new
building. A flush out is always conducted at the end of construction to finalize a project before
occupancy. The ventilation system components should be protected from contamination during
construction, or cleaned.589 The buildings mechanical system can then circulate fresh outdoor air
throughout the building. Flush outs should take as long as possible, suggestions often range from
two weeks to 30 days, but any amount of time is better than no action being taken at all.590

In schools, for example, the US EPA recommends that the minimum volume of outdoor air
needed for flush out is the amount needed to ventilate the full school at least once each hour (1
ACH, or air change per hour), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At a minimum level, all
mechanical ventilation systems should be set to provide the largest amount of outdoor air as
practical.591 It is essential that after a flush out, ventilation air filters, except filters that have only
been processing outside air, are changed.592

The LEED rating system gives points by conducting a flush-out by supplying a total air volume
of 14,000 cubic feet of outdoor air per square foot of floor area while maintaining an internal
temperature of at least 60 F and relative humidity no higher than 60%. An alternate approach is
available if occupancy is needed before the flush out. In that case, a minimum of 3,500 cubic feet

586 Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative. Knowledge Base Flush Out.
http://www.mnshi.umn.edu/kb/scale/flushout.html (accessed June 7, 2010). 587 United States
Environmental Protection Agency. Controlling Pollutants and Sources.
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign/controlling.html#Air%20Out%20and%20Flush%20Out (accessed
June 7,
2010). 588 Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative. Knowledge Base Flush Out.
http://www.mnshi.umn.edu/kb/scale/flushout.html (accessed June 7, 2010). 589 NYSERDA. Indoor Air
Quality. http://www.nyserda.org/hps/Files/air.pdf (accessed June 6, 2010). 590 Mandi Joyner. Product
Loading and Flush Out/
http://www.edcmag.com/Articles/Featured_Special_Sections/BNP_GUID_9-5-
2006_A_10000000000000634106
(accessed June 6, 2010). 591 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Controlling Pollutants and
Sources.
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign/controlling.html#Air%20Out%20and%20Flush%20Out (accessed
June 7,
2010). 592 Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative. Knowledge Base Flush Out.
http://www.mnshi.umn.edu/kb/scale/flushout.html (accessed June 7, 2010).

General Recommendations
A flush out is a recommended best practice during the construction process. The minimum volume of outdoor air
needed is the amount required to ventilate the building at least once each hour (1 air change per hour, or 1 ACH), 24
hours a day, 7 days a week. The U.S. Green Building Council, as part of LEED accreditation, recommends a total air
volume of 14,000 cu. ft. per sq. ft. of floor area, at a temperature of greater than 60 degrees and a relative humidity
no greater than 60%.
2

At a minimum, all mechanical ventilation systems should be set to provide the largest practical amount of outdoor air,
beginning with the final construction stages (when floor products and paints are applied) and continuing through the
first few days of occupancy.
3
Alternate compliance to the LEED flush out recommendations allows occupancy after
3,500 cu. ft. of air at a minimum of 0.30 cu. ft. per minute (cfm) per sq. ft. until the 14,000 cu. ft. of air per sq.ft. has
been delivered to the space.
4

It is essential that after a flush out occurs, all ventilation air filters, with the exception of filters that have only been
processing outside air, are changed prior to occupancy.
How Big a Fan?
The size of exhaust fan needed will increase as the size of the room increases, and as the amount of gases
being released into the air increases. The fan should provide about 5 air changes per hour (5 ACH). Divide
the volume of the room in cubic feet by 12 to get the minimum amount of cubic feet per minute (CFM)
that the fan must be able to exhaust. For example, a classroom with a volume of 9000 cubic feet (1000
square feet of floor area with 9 foot ceilings) divided by 12 results in a fan of 750 CFM. A 21 inch box fan
may be sufficient for a single classroom if the materials are not too strong a source of gases, but would
certainly not be sufficient for a wing or a whole school. As a rule of thumb, there may be enough airflow if
odors do not spread out of the immediate area where the work is being performed, of if dust or smoke
released into the air can be seen to be drawn towards the exhaust fan. As long as the odors or air
pollutants are present, the temporary exhaust ventilation must continue to be operated, even during
nights and weekends if necessary. Ventilation should continue for a minimum of 24 hours after
completion, or until there are no longer any noticeable odors.

Construction Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management Plan (Before Construction) Credit:
1. After construction ends, prior to occupancy and with all interior finishes installed,
perform a building flush-out by supplying a total air volume of 14000 cu ft of
outdoor air per sq ft of floor area while maintaining an internal temperature of at
least 60 degrees F and relative humidity no higher than 60 percent.
a. [Insert reference to specification section where building air flush-out is specified in
detail or insert requirements here.]
2. If building occupancy is to occur before completion of the flush-out, deliver a
minimum of 3500 cu ft of outdoor air per sq ft of floor area to the space. Once the
space is occupied, ventilate it at a minimum rate of 0.30 cfm/sq ft of outside air or
the design minimum outside air rate determined in accordance with Sections 4
through 7 of ASHRAE 62.1 or applicable local code, whichever is more stringent.
During each day of the flush-out period, begin ventilation a minimum of three (3)
hours prior to occupancy and continue during occupancy. Maintain these
conditions until a total of 14000 cu ft/sq ft of outside air has been delivered to the
space.
3. Engage an independent testing and inspecting agency to conduct a baseline IAQ
testing program according to EPA Compendium of Methods for the Determination
of Air Pollutants in Indoor Air [and the LEED for New Construction Version 2.2
Reference Guide].