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As the green movement has taken root, numerous organizations have developed standards for green claims on products and award certifications to help guide end users to truly green options. The information can be helpful, but only if managers know how to use it.
“We’re still in the early days of certification programs,” Minchew says. “So it’s not easy to understand them and apply them to your own particular situation.”
O’Reilly says one difficult question for many paint manufacturers is whether to submit their products to certification programs, such as Green Seal and Greenguard, or have independent laboratories test their products to meeting green protocols, including those from the U.S. Green Building Council‘s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Several manufacturers also have gone so far as to develop their own certifications in an effort they hope will help end users better understand green paints and coatings.
The final decision on the most appropriate paint or coating often comes down to basics. Revnew says managers stand a good chance of specifying the right product if they look for products that meet or exceed the most stringent VOC guidelines, offer good washability and durability, and offer clear information on their contents and sustainable properties.
Minchew says managers also must understand each application’s specific demands. A low-VOC paint might or might not perform as well as or better than other paints, but if occupants need to move back into the space quickly, it might be the best option.
“In the bulk of applications, water-based coatings work very well,” O’Reilly says. “They might cost a little more, but people prefer them for the bulk of their purposes.”
Paints and Coatings: Determining the Environmental Impact
VOCs Can Affect Paint Performance
Paints and Coatings: Washability, Durability Play Key Role