No, this is not an article about working with all the green hues of paint: chartreuse, spruce, grass, fern, sage, avocado, moss, lime and viridian. This is about working with paints that are ‘green’ — good for the environment and a sustainable world (like rickzworld).
Green has been with us a while. The book Silent Spring by ground-breaking author Rachel Carson awakened many of us to man’s unwitting impact on both the environment and Earth’s other inhabitants when it appeared in 1962. Eight years later, we saw both the first American celebration of Earth Day, and the founding of the Federal Government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today, when we use an average of half a ton of raw materials per person per year for each and every one of the planet’s 6 billion plus inhabitants, we have become ever more sensitized to the issue of long-term sustenance of the planet and continuing human society. We therefore see many efforts worldwide to implement green design and to strive for sustainability.
In our striving for sustainability, we must remain conscious of ‘planet, people and profit’. That is, we must be kind to the planet, by being environmentally responsible, minimizing use of precious resources, and reducing waste and pollution. We must likewise be kind to people, with products and processes that are safe, equitable and socially conscious. And, of course, whatever we develop, design or produce must be profitable or otherwise economically viable over the long term. Green’s growth has certainly accelerated. The residential demand for green building products was estimated at about $7 billion in 2005, but had grown to about $12 billion just two years later. In 2010, it is expected to exceed $40 billion.
In recent decades, paints and related products and processes have been made much more environmentally friendly. By 1990, limits were set on toxic substances, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants, by the Clean Air Act. Increasingly stringent standards have been developed in the years since, to more tightly control such substances in the production of paint materials. Meanwhile, paint technology itself has advanced, introducing water-based paints, greater ranges of pigments, and more varied paint properties addressing cost, workability, drying time, coverage, hiding capability and clean-up. Paints today can therefore reliably provide low VOCs, along with a wide variety of products and systems, low odor, easy clean-up, good fade resistance, good gloss retention, and little or no yellowing over time.
There are a number of advocacy groups, independent agencies and industry organizations that test and rate paint products and systems on green factors. Most paint manufacturers will also readily tout the green attributes of their product line, by providing test data and certification.
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