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IS GREEN STILL RELEVANT? MAKING A DIFFERENCE—AND PROFIT— THROUGH GREEN PAINTING PRACTICES
“I think green is still relevant” says Dan Ross of Ross Painting, based in San Rafael, CA. “The reason I feel so strongly about green products is that the people affected the most by carcinogens in materials are the painters in my crew. The homeowners are exposed for a while, but we’re around it all the time. That’s why I’ve been on the green side for a long time. And I don’t want to go back to what we used to do as an industry: digging a hole, pouring oil-based waste into it and burying it. That wasn’t a good practice for the environment.
BY JAKE POINIER
e’ve had a 50-gallon drum for toxic waste in the back of the shop for a long time, but nowadays it takes much longer to fill. In theory, some of my painters might prefer old-fashioned paint, but I’m glad I’m using the drum less and I’d like to get it out of my shop completely.” Even dealing with nontoxic paints represents a logistical challenge, since specialized waste management facilities may charge contractors for dropping off unused gallons. A few years ago, California instituted a program similar to the recycling deposit many states have for aluminum cans and bottles. “When you buy a gallon of paint, there’s an extra charge for a recycling fee,” Ross says. “Once we have enough gallons to dispose of, we can call the paint store and they’ll pick it up.” The LEED factor Because the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) does not certify or validate any products other than a completed building project, paint products ultimately play a supporting role when it comes to LEED certification. “If all the customer wants is painting, the nature and scope isn’t eligible for certification under the LEED rating system, which is a holistic approach
inPAINT | Feb/Mar 2018
to design, construction, operations and maintenance of a completed project,” says Brendan Owens, senior VP at USGBC. The requirements for indoor paints and coatings reference entities such as California Department of Public Health and California Air Resources Board, which address the emissions of VOCs, formaldehyde, and all the components that make the paint and the offgas from the paint as it dries. Owens recommends speaking to manufacturers if you’re curious about the changes to LEED standards. In most years, the changes have been minor periodic addenda and clarifications to improve the rating system. October 2016, however, was different. “Previously, it was mostly about credits for lowemitting paint,” Owens says. “In the way that LEED deals with materials in the new version, there are a whole host of other places where paint can play a role, and where paint manufacturers can demonstrate how they’re stewarding environmental and social leadership.” Basically, there are now three versions of credits: one deals with life cycle assessment; one deals with the human health impact from building materials; and the third is about the raw materials for products. “It’s an innovative way to go beyond just talking about the emissions, and gives a much more complete picture,” Owens says. Shifting the green marketing pitch “One of the advantages for contractors is that they have the ability to differentiate themselves from the competition by using paints in compliance with the new LEED ratings, whether or not the project is being driven by LEED or intending to be certified by Green Business Certification Inc.,” says Owens. “If it’s an entity such as a school or
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