From increasing consumer demand to stricter government regulations and green building standards, the call for ecological paint solutions is on the rise for residential and commercial settings.

Today’s consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before. In fact, more than half of global consumers are attracted to companies that have demonstrated a certain level of social responsibility in their business practices, according to The Nielsen Company. From environmentally friendly cleaning supplies to energy-efficient lighting and sustainable beauty products, the offering of green products and technology has skyrocketed in the marketplace.

Paint and coatings technology is no different. Over the past two decades, manufacturers have increase efforts around research and development of low-and zero-volatile organic compound (VOC) technology for paints, caulks and sealants. Delivering premium quality that rivals their higher-VOC counterparts, eco-friendly paint products offer a multitude of benefits for professionals and consumers alike, including low odor.

As government regulations, green certifications and health awareness continue to increase, it is important for painting professionals to understand the nuances of green paint technology to better serve customer’s needs in both commercial and residential spaces.

The Emergence of Green Paint Technology

In the painting world, “green” is often considered the incorporation of practices that decrease certain negative impacts on the environment. This can include, but is not limited to, the use of paint products that have reduced VOC emissions. VOCs are carbon-containing chemicals that are released into the atmosphere from both man-made and naturally occurring materials. Because of their impact on air quality, they are subject to a variety of regulations, depending on jurisdiction and product type.

Meeting Environmental Regulations

Health and air-quality concerns have prompted regulators at the local, state and national levels to limit VOC content in coating products. Manufacturers must formulate products to meet these requirements in order to sell the products in various jurisdictions. At the broadest level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Architectural and Industrial Maintenance (AIM) Coating Emission Standards apply, at a minimum, all states must comply with this regulation. Regions and states or local air quality boards can choose to set stricter regulations within their jurisdictions.

Achieving Green Certifications

Independent of government regulations, third-part green certifications promote and regulate the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. These buildings include everything from large-scale commercial structures to individual homes. Each third-party certification has its own set of certification standards and criteria, but a few of the most popular U.S. green building certifications include:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Established by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark rating system for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

The NAHB’s Model Green Home Building guidelines are designed to move home building toward a more environmentally friendly standard.

U.S. Greenguard

U.S. Greenguard certification is broadly recognized by sustainable building programs and building codes worldwide and ensures that a product is low emitting to reduce people’s exposure to chemicals and other pollutants.

Selecting the Appropriate Low-VOC Products

Low- and zero-VOC paints deliver similar – or sometimes even greater – durability and high-quality performance compared to paints with higher VOC content. Many homeowners, business owners and professional contractors especially enjoy low-VOC paints for their low odor, allowing occupied spaces to be painted with little disruption to everyday activities. It is also important to remember that colorants added to base low – or zero- VOC paints may significantly increase VOC levels, depending on color choice. Here are a few tips to consider in the paint selection process:

Do Your Research Before You Shop

When selecting the appropriate green paint products, it is imperative to be aware of the paint’s specific performance properties. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s Technical Data Sheet (TDS) and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for performance properties, recommended usage and application, safety precautions and product conformance standards.

Consider the project requirements.

Be mindful of the particular space and application of the paint to help steer your decisions. Be sure to consider the following: Will painting be performed in a closed space with occupants present during or soon after painting? What are the specific VOC-level requirements? What type of finish is desired? The answers to these questions should play into the final paint decision.

Don’t get hung up on cost alone.

Weighing the cost-effectiveness of different green paint options may also be a consideration, but it shouldn’t be the main driver in the selection process. It is important to remember that it doesn’t provide much benefit to you or your customers if it requires constant touch-ups or reapplying – which could even cost more in the long term if the job wasn’t done right the first time.

The Green Future is Bright

As today’s paint and coatings manufacturers continue to evolve and re-engineer their products to meet increasing green standards, one thing remains clear: Green paint technology is here to stay. All of these considerations and more can help shape the appropriate selection of paint products for your project. Talk to a painting professional for more information.

Taken from: American Paint Company, June 2015, Volume 92, No. 5

Written By: Mary Ellen Shivetts

Author Kirsten Ghaster

More posts by Kirsten Ghaster