Saturday, August 1, 2009

Green Home Design - Paint

Paint is leading the expansion of the green home design building movement. Manufactures are being forced to produce paints with less dangerous and smog-producing compounds as regulations become tighter, increases in consumer demand for eco-friendly products and pressure mounting from environmental groups who closely monitor the green home design building movement.

Not everyone is happy about the changes paint manufacturers have had to make over the past few years towards the green home design movement. Many designers, painters and consumers who are for the green home design movement are becoming worried about increasing restrictions on oil-based paints (which contain high levels of harmful volatile organic compounds), and even on less hazardous water-based latex paints.

Some are arguing that with current products moving towards the green home design building movement it is impossible to replicate the integrity of an oil-based paint especially for the use on cabinetry, trim and other specialty jobs. In addition, painting walls and ceilings can require additional applications of the newer paints made with low volatile organic compounds or V.O.C. 's than the traditional latex blends.

VOLATILE organic compounds, or V.O.C.’s, are gases emitted by products like paint, lacquer, cleaning supplies and pesticides.

Over the past decade, many regulations have been enacted by the state and federally to reduce V.O.C.'s that are in paint and other products as part of a movement towards green home design. Federal V.O.C. limitations are 250 grams per liter for flat finishes and 380 grams for other finishes such as semi-gloss. An advisory group created under the Clean Air Act of 1990 (The Ozone Transport Commission), has recommendations limiting V.O.C.'s even further to 100 grams per liter for flat paint and 150 for other finishes. States that are in the process of adopting these limits or already have are: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Southern California has the most stringent rules in the country in which the South Coast Air Quality Management District requires all paints sold to contain less than 50 grams of V.O.C.'s per Liter. Many of today's new paints on the market have already been manufactured to comply with this so that they will not have to reformulate their products in the future as the regulations change and the movement towards green home design grows. Meeting these standards are Benjamin Moore's Aura, Home depot's Freshaire Choice and Sherwin-William's Harmony. Some other companies like Yolo Colorhouse and AFM Safecoat produce only low or "zero" V.O.C. paints.

Green Seal a nonprofit environmental organization are the ones who certify products as eco-friendly. They have listed 21 brands that have passed their environmental saftey and performance tests. Coming in third is Benjamin Moore's Aura with Sherwin-William's zero V.O.C. line Harmony, did not hold up to the performance test well along with several other brands. As the movement towards green home design continues to grow products through research will eventual increase their integrity and become standard among building products.

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