Evoke Laminates: Beyond CARB, Compliant to CA Section 01350.

At Evoke, Our Air Quality Program Goes Beyond CARB.

At Evoke, 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 a set of technical specifications that we dictate, and we’ve developed a strict quality control program to ensure that all our laminate floors meet those specifications.

We also set our own standards when it comes to air quality and formaldehyde emissions, topics which are very much on consumers’ minds these days. We go far beyond what regulations require to ensure our products are meeting the strictest air quality standards. Why? Because that’s the way we do things.

How do we know our laminate floors meet the strictest air quality standard in the world? We get independent experts to test them.

All Evoke Laminate floors are manufactured with carefully selected and fully documented CARB Certified core material. That means the MDF core of the product meets the strict emissions standards set by CARB.

In addition, during manufacturing our quality control inspectors check and double check that the materials we’re using meet CARB technical and documentation requirements.

We also employ a full time Environmental Compliance Officer to monitor our QC program and triple check their work. 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.

(Quick technical note: most laminate manufacturers – us included – often say their products are made with HDF (High Density Fiberboard) rather than MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that we refer to here. MDF is a technical and legal label that covers a broad category of fiberboard products and is therefore the term used by CARB to cover the entire category. HDF is a term used by the industry to describe a type of MDF with specific weight and strength properties designed for specific applications - like laminate flooring cores. In CARB terms, it’s all classed under MDF, so that’s how we refer to it in IAQ language, even if our marketing department will usually follow industry custom and call it HDF.)

Beyond CARB: all of our laminate floors are CA Section 01350 Compliant

But we go a step further: in 2013, we began testing all Evoke Laminates against CA Section 01350, the California air quality standard that is considered the strictest in the world.

CA Section 01350 goes well beyond CARB. Its allowable formaldehyde emissions level is less than half of CARB’s. It tests for thousands of other chemical emissions in addition to formaldehyde. And CA Section 01350 tests the whole product that goes into your home, not just the core.

CA Section 01350 gives a much more comprehensive indication of a product’s impact on your indoor air quality than CARB alone, and that is why we have all Evoke Laminate products tested against the CA Section 01350 standard by independent laboratories.

So when you buy Evoke Laminates, you can be assured they have been tested against the strictest air quality standards in the world.

So What’s The IAQ Story On Luxury Vinyl And VCC Products?

Glad you asked. Vinyl flooring products have actually been under IAQ scrutiny for several years. Customers of all kinds – but especially large commercial customers – wanted to be assured that the floors weren’t contributing to poor indoor air quality in their homes, offices, and other public buildings. In 2005 the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) worked with Scientific Certification Systems to establish a program to test vinyl floor coverings for VOC emissions. They called the program FloorScore and based its emissions targets on – drumroll – CA Section 01350. The FloorScore stamp became well known in the resilient industry as the hallmark of ‘good indoor air quality’.

In recent years, the FloorScore program has been expanded to other categories of flooring in addition to vinyl, so you might see it on other products as well. But wherever you see the FloorScore logo, it means that the product is CA Section 01350 compliant.

All Evoke Luxury Vinyl and Vinyl Composite Core products are FloorScore certified, meaning they – like Evoke Laminates - have been tested against the strictest air quality standards in the world.

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, and the primary component of laminate flooring is a wood-based fiberboard core, all laminate 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.

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. In the case of a laminate floor with an MDF core, CARB will require that the core material meets a specified limit for formaldehyde emissions; if it does (and administrative requirements are met) the product may be labelled CARB Compliant.

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 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).

Evoke’s strict IAQ testing regime is just one aspect of our environmentally-focused product quality program. Many of our laminate floors also carry FSC Certification or have recycled or rapidly renewable content.

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