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VOC you later: paint manufacturers continue to develop new products with lower impact on a building's indoor air quality.

When apartment company Presidents Rick Graf of Pinnacle and Cindy Clare, CPM, of Kettler Management, participated on a panel at NAA's Green Conference this April, paint was a topic of discussion. Were ultra low- or zero-VOC paints, which have virtually no odor and eliminate air quality pollutants, cost-effective enough for everyday use? Not quite yet, the presidents agreed.

"But as the price points come down, it'll be more feasible," Graf said.

As paint manufacturers continue the relentless drive to create paints that eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, apartment community managers are increasingly looking for such healthy products to tout to residents seeking green living, manufacturers say.

"Everybody is looking for a more environmentally responsible product," says Steve Revnew, Director of Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "It certainly is one of the fastest growing segments in the apartment industry."

The trend toward lower VOC paints is marching across the country from Southern California (the South Coast Air Quality Management District, or SCAQMD), which currently has the most stringent requirements (no more than 50 grams per liter of VOCs for architectural paints, or 100 g/L for primers). In 2001, a group of northeast states adopted SCAQMD's 2001 VOC requirements (which were less stringent at the time), and Revnew expects that trend to continue across the rest of the United States.

"Based on current EPA discussions, by the first part of 2011, we should see the entire country adopting the VOC regulations from the northeast states," he says.

But with many apartment companies looking to specify one paint across different regions, as well as products that qualify for LEED (an environmental rating system for buildings), paint companies are adapting their products to the most stringent regulations. All of Sherwin-Williams' new products, for example, meet the South Coast's stringent requirements.


An increasing number of manufacturers also are now offering zero-VOC paints that eliminate significant indoor air pollutants and have very low odor, says Timothy O'Reilly, Business Manager for Zinsser Primers, which recently debuted its Bulls Eye Zero primer with no VOCs.

Because of zero-VOC products' low odor, painters can work next door to an existing resident or even in a current resident's room without creating intrusive fumes, O'Reilly says. The product is more expensive, O'Reilly notes, and is selling in projects targeting LEED credits as well as maintenance projects.

Pushing Performance

While the amount of VOCs in paint continues to drop, manufacturers are using new technologies to design tougher and more effective paints. Zinsser's new Smart Prime primer is a water-based product with the performance characteristics of an oil-based primer.

That means that it can block water-based stains while eliminating the need for charcoal-filter respirators during application and smelly solvents for clean up, O'Reilly says. Such a solution cuts the cost of charcoal filters, and insurance companies may reduce rates when professionals move away from combustibles and flammables to complete water-based systems, he says.

Designed specifically for multifamily housing communities where a technician may need to touch up a surface rather than paint an entire area, Sherwin-Williams' Property Solution applies quickly and easily and results in a uniform appearance. Useful in high-maintenance entry-ways and common areas, the paint also resists some stains and can withstand mild washing.

Neither product sacrifices environmental quality for performance: both are VOC-compliant nationwide.

Sherwin-Williams and Zinsser Primers contributed to this article.
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Title Annotation:Service Spotlight: Paint
Author:Sherwin-Williams; Primers, Zinsser
Article Type:Conference notes
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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