Matters of aesthetics and sexiness aside, when it comes to environmental impact there’s no denying the vitality of eco-friendly building products designed to not only conserve resources like energy, water and raw materials but also to help you save money and stay healthy.
You may not be aware of it, but paint formulations have been undergoing dramatic changes over the past several years, driven by regulations to reduce the Volatile Organic Compounds (known as VOCs) in a gallon of paint. VOCs have been identified as having an adverse effect on air quality, so over the past couple of decades, the government has stepped in to require increasingly stricter limits on the VOC content of paint.
Nationally, the U.S. EPA has set the limit for flat-sheen paints at 250 grams per liter, but there are parts of our country where poor air quality is more of an issue and the limit on VOCs is even lower. In Southern California, for instance, the governing body has set the VOC limit at 50 grams per liter. Missouri follows the national EPA rule, though nearby Illinois is part of a consortium of five Midwest states (which also includes Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio) that are moving forward with lowering VOC limits to 100 grams per liter.
While low or no VOC content is good for the environment, it is also good for the consumers who use them. Low-VOC paints emit less odor than other types of paint. That’s why they are often specified for projects where the occupants could be sensitive to paint fumes, such as hospitals and schools.