Formal activity answers
Painting Australia Green
- Specifying Sustainable Coatings
Participants in this seminar may achieve formal Continuing Professional
Development (CPD) points/hours by preparing responses to the following questions.
Satisfactory completion of these questions and self review of the answers will
generate 2 formal CPD points.
This is a self-assessment activity and as such it is your responsibility to review the
sample answers and retain the completed activity for your records. The sample
answers will be available for self review on the GreenPainters web-site.
Visit http://www.greenpainters.org.au Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the seminar, participants should be able to;
• Understand the impact of the manufacture of paints and coatings on the
environment; and Indoor Air Quality after application
• Specify ‘natural’ plant and mineral based paint and coatings systems
• Have an increased understanding of the Good Environmental Choice Australia
Architectural and Protective Coatings Standard
• Specify paints and coatings that conform to the Green Building Council
Australia Rating Tool VOC Minimisation Credits
• Specify paints that meet BASIX heat reflective credits
• Distinguish the difference between recognised Third Party Certification labels
• Identify their role in market transformation towards best practice in procuring
Competancy Units –
Design – 1.1
Project Management – 3.2
Refer to Architects Accreditation Council of Australia’s National Competancy
Formal Activity Questions and Answers
1. What chemicals in paint should be of concern to a specifier, and why?
Conventional paints can make indoor air a chemical cocktail, even long after they
have dried, as they continue to release petroleum based solvents, called Volatile
Organic Compounds (VOCs) as they cure. It is estimated that each year in
Australia more than 80,000 tonnes of VOCs are released into the atmosphere, with
the paint industry contributing about 9% of this amount. According to the
Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS), 'VOCs also contribute negatively to
indoor air quality through emissions, both during and after curing, into the daily
living environment.' VOCs from solvent and paint emissions contribute to
harmful ozone formation and peroxyacetyl nitrate. VOCs also react in the
atmosphere to create greenhouse gases. CSIRO studies have shown that in
established homes in Australia, 'indoor air still carries four times the total volatile
organic toxics found in outside air. Occupants of new Australian homes may be
exposed to up to 20 times the maximum allowable limits of indoor air toxics for
up to ten weeks after completion’. Mineral turpentine (used as a thinner and
solvent) may contain up to 20% benzene, which is a confirmed carcinogen and
mutagen in chronically exposed workers. Acrylic paints typically include a range
of biocides to protect the latex, which can include arsenic disulphide, phenol,
copper, formaldehyde, carbamates, permethrin and quaternary ammonium
compounds. CSIRO estimates that indoor air pollution costs the Australian
community in excess of $12 billion a year in illness and lost productivity.
2. When would you specify low-VOC paints, and what should be taken into
consideration when choosing a low-VOC product?
It is now possible to
specify low-VOC paints for almost all projects. They will not add significant
cost to a building, and have excellent durability, even for commercial
applications. It is important to check that the colours chosen meet the Green
Building Council VOC minimisation credits. Look for products which have
had a Third Party evaluation of their entire manufacturing process
3. What are ‘natural’ paints, and why should they be considered by a
Plant and mineral based paints are made using naturally occurring
ingredients, and therefore do not require high levels of processing. The manufacture of petrochemical based paint is energy-intensive, and the production of of 1 tonne of paint can produce 10-30 tonnes of toxic waste, much of which is non-degradable. 'Plant-based' paints are generally well-tolerated by humans and the environment. Ingredients used are printed on the label, or on a technical data sheet which can be consulted to establish whether allergic reactions are a risk. Many of the ingredients of 'Natural' paints are made from renewable resources, such as linseed oil, and citrus oil. These natural VOCs may cause reactions such as watery eyes or respiratory problems in people sensitive to these substances. They also contain plant resins, finely ground minerals, and earth pigments. Most of the companies
producing the paints offer full ingredient-disclosure statements for the products. Natural paints use plant-derived solvents and binders instead of synthetic ones. They are the most sustainable type of paints available, as most of the ingredients are derived from renewable materials. They are ideal for residential applications, or for use in areas where chemical sensitivity is an issue, or sustainability is the focus. Plant-based paints do not form a water-proof barrier, and therefore are not as stain-resistant as acrylic paints. However, they allow the substrate to 'breathe', are anti-static (avoiding dust), discourage mould growth, and improve air quality. Mineral-based paints such as lime or clay paints bond with the substrate, which means they become a sacrificial surface. They gradually wear away until it is time to recoat. However, they do not crack, peel or blister. They offer outstanding durability for exterior masonry surfaces.
4. How can heat-reflective paints and coatings improve the energy
efficiency of a building?
Products which are Codemark Certified as being
compliant to Section ‘J’ can aid a building to reflect unwanted solar energy by
up to 50%, reduce its temperature and thereby lower the costs of cooling.
Using these products may add up to two stars to its Energy Efficiency Rating,
without the need for additional insulation
5. What Third Party evaluation schemes are available to the market in
• The Good Environmental Choice Australia program conducts a
comprehensive life cycle based assessment of product compliance to voluntary environmental declaration standards. It is a member of the Global Ecolabelling Network.
• Ecospecifier is Australia's leading source of architectural information
on sustainable products. The new Green Tag system uses LCA methodology to rate products for Green Star buildings
• Products that are Codemark certified for Section ‘J’ Energy Efficiency
automatically increase the building’s energy rating, even in dark colours
6. Why are third party ecolabel certification schemes important to
improving the sustainability of the painting industry?
Just because a paint
is classed as 'Low-VOC' does not mean it is environmentally preferable. It is
important to consider the entire manufacturing process of a product, and its'
environmental impact. This can be assured is by independant assessment by
an eco-labeling body such as Good Environmental Choice Australia. Third
party ecolabel certification ensures that environmental claims made for a
product are verified by an auditing body independent to the party who makes
and profits from these claims. Thus it ensures that claims are relevant and do not mislead consumers.
7. How can architects and specifiers play a role in positive market
transformation in the paints and coatings manufacturing sector?
Architects and Specifiers can refer to a recognised certification scheme in their
specifications. Not all low-VOC paint products have been evaluated for the
environmental impact of the manufacturer, so further requirements such as
independent Third Party certification by a recognised eco-labeling program
should be added to the specification to encourage the market to improve the
environmental impact of paint manufacture. This will enable the better
performers in the paint manufacturing industry to be recognised and rewarded
for their efforts.
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