Mar 2, 2010 12:00 PM  PST

Greener Paint Choices: Better for the Environment, Your Health, and Your Pocketbook

by Mark A. Zielinski
Senior Director of Marketing
Kelly-Moore Paint Company, Inc.


What is “green” paint?

By definition, “green” paints must be healthier for the environment and safer for us to use.  Even now, government regulations define the environmentally-friendly ingredients that are compliant in paints, but there are advancements coming that will demonstrate real values to every homeowner.  There are several types of paints available that are considered “green” by the industry.  Here are a few:

Recycled Paints
Recycled paints preserve the environment by collecting and remanufacturing left-over paints and keeping them away from land-fills and our water supply.  Made with a minimum of 50% post-consumer materials, new ingredients are often added to assure consistent performance, coverage and color consistency.  Discriminating recycling programs provide paints now in decorative sheens and standard ready-mixed colors for interior and exterior projects.

Low-VOC Paints
For the past 15 years, paint manufacturers have refined the formulas for low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints. VOCs are the solvents used in older paints that evaporate and can be related to the formation of smog.  Paint companies had difficult times selling low-VOC paints at first, because they didn’t work as well as regular paints and were higher priced.  They were finally accepted into the marketplace, because of their very low-odor qualities.

Zero-VOC Paints
Advanced formulations today are using “zero-VOC” acrylic resins, making these paints virtually odorless with excellent performance. Professional painting contractors are able to maintain good interior air quality without sacrificing performance on the job. The qualities of the paint actually improved with the cleaner formulation.  The outstanding performance and virtual no-odor formulas make them ideal for occupied residential and office settings, hospital and schools, or whenever higher performance and maintaining indoor air-quality is required.

How will we paint our homes in the future?
 

The function of paint is to protect and beautify, but future product development will include environmental functionality as well.  Although, regulatory agencies influence VOC as the measuring-stick, this does not register with most homeowners.  The zero-VOC paint families have outperformed most other offerings in the category.  This seems like a small step, but in the paint world, it is a large leap.  The measurable function of these paints for the homeowner is the lack of odor!  

Another advance formula combines oil-based paints with water.  Think of the emulsion created when you make salad dressing.  The advantage here allows the painter the workability of the old oil-based paints, but the brush cleans-up with water!  Made in low-VOC formulas, these paints provide a lustrous enamel finish of yester-year with today’s technology.

Yet, another example of a future environmentally-functional paint is heat reflective paints, which are now being tested. Controlling VOC is important, but if we can demonstrate lower air-conditioning bills by painting a building with a radiant heat reflective coating, the value can be demonstrated to the customer on next month’s electric bill.  By controlling the outside wall temperature, you also can control the amount of heat transferred to the inner air-space.  By running the air-conditioning units with less frequency, you should consume less energy which aids long-term air quality.

The next generation of “green” paints will demonstrate ingenuity and deliver real benefits that could result in a better environment for us all.

Kelly-Moore Paints is a Build It Green Silver Sponsor.

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