Because of the increasing concern over the harmful effects of certain chemicals and substances to the environment, strict regulations have been implemented at the federal, state, and local levels to encourage all sectors to help control the release of toxic damaging substances to the atmosphere.

Painting products, in particular, have long been considered as one of the key pollutants in the construction industry, releasing toxic chemicals at nearly all stages of the painting application process — from high-VOC primers, to toxin-mixed solvents and coatings, to post-cleanup contaminants. Even waste disposal of post-project coatings has the potential to release environment-damaging substances into the air. As a result of the stricter compliance standards and regulations, the average business owner is more aware of the adverse effects of low- and zero-VOC coatings in commercial building painting than ever before.

Breakthroughs in Eco-Friendly Coatings and Applications

With facility managers and owners looking for more environment-friendly coating options, the coatings industry rose up to the challenge by conducting research and development to manufacture more environment-sensitive coating products. The result of the intensive R&D is a whole plethora of technological advancements involving low-VOC products.

Eco-friendly water-based paints have been designed for improved performance, with better adhesive capabilities, enhanced color, and long-lasting resistance. Major paint companies lessened VOCs from their latex products, without sacrificing paint performance. For maintenance coatings, water-based polyurethane mixtures have been developed that maintain durability required for maintenance applications.

With an eye on keeping all of their products low- or zero-VOC, many companies reformulated major flagship products to become ecologically-sustainable for commercial building painting.

Painting suppliers, on the other hand, have been busy launching their own green initiatives, reevaluating their products and redesigning them to cut down on harmful substances emission. They started searching for more environmentally-sensitive raw materials and resources, coming up with green biocide components for paints and coatings. Protective biocide agents that have lesser hazardous components came rolling out of manufacturer’s chemistry labs all throughout the country.

Some paint suppliers innovated on emulsions and other paint components that are not only environmentally-sensitive, but also cost-efficient and with above-standard performance.

Environmental Initiatives for Low – and Zero-VOC Coatings

Companies nowadays are more concerned over the harmful effects of toxic substances to the quality of the breathable air and the environment as a whole. But this consciousness did not come about overnight. This is a product of decades of government initiative to control the release of damaging VOCs to the environment.

In the commercial building painting sector, government regulations mandated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be the executing agency for environmentally-sensitive programs. Working together with the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council), the adoption of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for low- and zero-VOC compliance of commercial building painting became possible, eventually becoming accepted in the building industry.

With the support of the public and private sectors, the commercial building painting market finally opened its doors to zero- and low-VOC products. With the move toward green products, environmentally-sensitive coatings finally become mainstream and as competitive as their standard paint counterparts. And to become competitive in this fast becoming environmentally-sensitive market, previously high-VOC paint products were inevitably redesigned to keep up with the green competition.

The outlook looks good for environmentally-sensitive coatings and applications, ensuring that present and future commercial building painting applications are as ecologically-friendly and less-harmful to the environment as possible.

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