Green Building the Future

By Tim Wright | October 30, 2008

Paint makers and their raw material suppliers are key players in the green building boom taking place in the U.S.

The booming field of "green building" continues to grow even as the mortgage crisis has pushed the U.S. economy into a downward spiral leading to a current construction crash. The level of construction starts in 2009 is expected to decline seven percent to $515 billion following a 12% decline predicted for 2008, according to McGraw-Hill Construction's "2009 Construction Outlook."

"We know there will be a slowdown in new construction while the economy sorts itself out, but even so, we're seeing continued interest in green building practices particularly as it relates to greening existing buildings," said Ashley Katz, communications manager, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). "Now more than ever people want to save on utility bills, and green buildings use less energy and water, and cost less to operate and maintain."

In addition, Katz said that green buildings do not cost more than conventional buildings. "In fact, the upfront costs for a high performance office building average only one to two percent of the overall budget," she said. "Once the building is operational, money savings kick in. The average return on investment is 20% over the buildings lifetime."

The fuel behind the green building boom is a combination of factors. "Green building benefits the building occupants through increased levels of health, safety and productivity," said Katz. "At the same time building owners benefit from a better bottom-line gained through energy savings, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and happier employees. Also, green building reduces resource use and the impact of building on the land. Additionally, building green stimulates the economy by creating a demand for 'green-collar' jobs and workers to make these improvements, and that will contribute directly to creating a sustainable future."

So what exactly is green building? The National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA) defines green building, or sustainable building, as the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. There are many facets of green building: energy efficiency and renewable energy, water efficiency, environmentally preferable building materials and specifications, waste reduction, toxics reduction and indoor air quality.

Green building market trends & outlook

Given the amount of energy both residential and non-residential buildings consume, reducing the amount of natural resources buildings consume and the amount of pollution given off is important for future sustainability. At the moment green building is more prevalent in commercial building, and hasn't become as widespread in residential construction.

In 2004, green building comprised approximately two percent of the new U.S. non-residential construction market, which translates to approximately a $3.3 billion industry. In 2006 McGraw-Hill Construction projected that by 2010, between five to ten percent of new non-residential construction starts will be designed using the principles of green building. It forecasted U.S. non-residential construction starts will be worth approximately $204.5 billion in 2010. A projected growth of five to ten percent translates to a green building market valued between $10.2 billion and $20.5 billion.

Attendance figures from USGBC's annual Greenbuild Expo serve as a good barometer of just how fast the green building market is growing. The number of registered attendees has sextupled from just over 4,000 at its 2002 inaugural conference to more than 22,000 last year. The number of exhibitors has grown from 220 to nearly 500 during the same time period while the number of countries represented has grown from 27 to 66.

As the top showcase for cutting-edge eco-friendly practices and products major paint makers including PPG, Sherwin-Williams, AkzoNobel, Benjamin Moore, Valspar and DuPont as well as smaller firms like C2 Paint and YOLO Colorhouse will be among this year's exhibiters displaying the latest in green paint technology when Greenbuild 2008 lands in Boston, MA from Nov. 19-21.

Green homes gain ground

In the residential sector, green housing is growing even while the overall housing market is suffering. As this issue went to press the Census Bureau announced that housing starts dropped 6.3% in September. At this pace only 817,000 new homes will be built over the year-almost a 60% drop from the 1.98 million private homes completed in 2006.

The residential green building market is expected to be worth $12-20 billion representing six to ten percent of the market this year, according to McGraw-Hill's SmartMarket Reports 2008. That's up from just two percent in 2005. By 2012 the firm expects the market to double to 12-20% market share or $40-70 billion.

More importantly, 40% of home builders think green building helps them market their homes in a down market with quality emerging as the most important reason for building green. This indicates that green homebuyers in today's market are not just green consumers, but are also buying a green home for investment and performance reasons.

Earlier this year at the National Association of Home Builders' Green Building Conference, Harvey Bernstein, McGraw-Hill's vice president of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives said the tipping point for builders going green has emerged. "This year, the number of builders who are moderately green-those with 30% green projects-has surpassed those with a low share of green-those who are green in less than 15% of their projects," he said. "Next year we will see even greater growth, with highly green builders-those with 60% green projects-surpassing those with a low share of green. This year has seen an eight percent jump over the last year and we expect another ten percent increase next year."

LEED-ing the way

So what makes a green building "green"? With different organizations setting different standards that are up for revision constantly, it can be a confusing question to answer. For its part the NPCA is playing a major role in defining green building for the paint and coatings industry.

NPCA is a member of the North American Coalition on Green Building, a group consisting of more than 30 trade associations representing industries affected by the green building movement. According to NPCA, the coalition supports the goal of building more sustainable buildings but that the supporting technologies must be feasible, and that the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings systems are not the only green building certification systems available for project certification, though it is the most common.

LEED is a third-party certification system for buildings and was developed because there was no common consensus for what defined a green building. "LEED acts as a nutrition label for a building-it shows exactly how much energy and water the building is using, what the building is made of, where the building materials were sourced from and gauges the quality of the indoor environment," said USGBC's Katz. "LEED looks at all of these features-building site, water efficiency, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, and indoor environmental quality."

Each LEED rating system is a green building certification process administered by the USGBC. The LEED ratings systems pertain to various construction categories including new construction, existing buildings and commercial interiors. Under this system projects earn points for green and sustainable development practices. There is basic LEED certification (26-32 points); LEED Silver (33-38 points); LEED Gold (39-51 points); and lastly, LEED Platinum (52-69 points).

LEED has become the certification process of choice for U.S. commercial green building construction since its debut in the late 1990s. "On the commercial side of the green building movement, there is 3.9 billion square feet of construction space participating in the LEED system, which means registered and certified projects," said Katz. "That number translates to approximately seven percent of the commercial construction market. With the growth we've been seeing, we expect that number to be closer to ten percent once the numbers are tallied again.

"In Dec. 2007 USGBC launched LEED for Homes and have already seen tremendous growth," Katz continued. "We currently have 1,039 certified and 13,597 that are registered to be certified."

Green Globes is another green building rating and assessment system that was first developed in Canada in 2000. The Green Globes System was introduced to the U.S. in 2005 and is administered by the Green Building Initiative and is similar to LEED in that both systems use online tools that allow projects to earn points for green and sustainable development practices. However, NPCA said that Green Globes is gaining in popularity as an alternative to LEED because it is generally viewed as more directly applicable, practical and feasible for industry compliance.

Also on the regulatory front, NPCA recently formed a Green Standard Work Group that is comprised of nearly 50 individuals representing various member companies after it learned that there were revisions being made to the LEED rating system in 2008 that affected the paint industry.

Specifically there is a credit for paints and coatings in the LEED rating systems-Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 4.2-which pertains to reducing the quantity of VOCs for architectural paints, coatings and primers applied to interior walls and ceilings established by Green Seal GS-11 Paints Standard, which was recently revised to meet lower VOC requirements.

Green Seal is the premier independent ecolabel in the U.S., having certified more than 2,700 products and services, and is to products what LEED is to buildings, according to NPCA. In response to what NPCA calls the "overly stringent" revised Green Seal GS-11 Paints Standard, NPCA and its Green Standards Work Group maintain that the indoor air quality impact of coatings should be limited to the time of application and drying and is not a factor for eventual building occupants.

The role of paint & coatings in green building

While the economic slowdown has taken its toll on U.S. paint makers with fewer cars and trucks being built and fewer new buildings under construction, the green building sector offers opportunity for growth. Led by NPCA, the paint and coatings industry has become very active in the green building arena since the construction sector is a major outlet for its products.

Increasingly, the use of low-emitting paints is being identified by builders as one way to gain an "easy credit" in the LEED rating system that will help them minimize the environmental footprint of a construction project.

"With the push for more LEED certified buildings the demand for approved paint products continues to grow," said Jeff Spillane, senior manager for product development, Benjamin Moore. "While the slowdown in the economy and both the residential and commercial construction business has adversely impacted all new construction, the demand for green products has not slowed down. Benjamin Moore's original Eco Spec product sales have realized double-digit growth since its introduction."

Paint and coating systems play a relatively small-accounting for just one point in LEED ratings systems-but very important role in the green building process, according to Rocky Prior, president, Mythic Paint. "Why build a green home only to put a coating on the wall that pollutes the air you breathe?" Prior asked. "The key to the trend of eliminating VOCs and odor is to maintain performance."

"It is hard to imagine a green building that didn't have green coatings because it is one of the easiest things to get right-and its one of the first things that the people who use that building will notice about it," said Craig Mitchell, marketing manager, Celanese Emulsions. "One need only look at the plethora of 'green certified' labels on construction products-paint included-to understand where the market is heading."

"From a consumers' point of view, paint is the most visible aspect of a building," said David Faherty, vice president of marketing, Troy Corp. "Paint and coatings make up a large amount of exterior and interior surface of new buildings and therefore can make a substantial contribution to air quality."

"Paint and coating systems are integral to the idea of green building because high performance is expected," added Silke Anthony, associate product manager, Sto Corp. "Products that last longer contribute to an overall sustainable environment. Quality coatings will not suffer from color fading, blistering, cracking or delamination, chalking, efflorescence, mildew and dirt build-up, freeze thaw damage or spalling."

"As sustainability has become a greater driving force in the design and construction of facilities today, one of our first steps has been to focus efforts on reducing our dependence on oil-based raw materials by identifying suitable renewable raw materials such as plasticizers and polyols for use in the formulation of our products," said Randy Korach, president, Tremco Global Sealants. "The demand for 'fast track' construction has also placed demands on our industry for increased productivity while not sacrificing product performance."

Green paint technology

Southern Diversified Products' Mythic Paint.
Paint makers are reformulating existing portfolios and launching new ones altogether to comply with regulations. Raw material suppliers have also responded with green chemistry to help their customers in the formulation process.

In November of last year Southern Diversified Products introduced Mythic Paint. The result of over six years of research with polymer research partners at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), the new paint is based on patented technology designed to improve latex paint at its core and has been formulated to offer all of the premium qualities of conventional water-based paints without the need for toxic solvents, according to the company. This means zero VOCs, zero harmful toxins released into the air and no unpleasant odor when painting. This line includes a primer and flat ceiling paint in addition to flat, eggshell, semi-gloss and exterior satin varieties and uses a proprietary toxin-free coloring system and MatchRite Color Matching Software.

Benjamin Moore's Natura.
Benjamin Moore is in the process of introducing Natura. "It is the greenest zero VOC interior paint on the market today," said Spillane. "Natura is tinted with Benjamin Moore's proprietary all waterborne zero VOC colorant system. This allows both residential and commerical customers to specify any color without any compromise in quality and performance."

Sto Corp. launched a highly innovative sustainable product in 2005-StoCoat Lotusan-an exterior coating product that helps reduce the depletion of natural resources due to longer cleaning and recoat cycles.

Sto's Anthony described how the product works. "Dirt particles are unable to obtain a hold on the leaves of the lotus plant and simply flow off with the rain droplets that fall on the plant," he said. "The StoCoat Lotusan exterior coating possesses a highly water-repellent surface similar to that of the lotus leaf. Its microstructure has been modeled on the lotus plant to minimize the contact area for water and dirt.

As shown in this uncoated (left) and StoCoat Lotusan coated (right) example, this high quality coating is resistant to soiling and features a self-cleaning effect that is ideal for new construction and recoat projects over concrete, stucco, EIFS, and fiber cement board substrates.
"The surface additionally offers enhanced hydrophobic properties," he continued. "Dirt simply runs off with the water that falls on the facade. The facade remains dry and attractive even on sides which are particularly exposed to the weather."

On the supplier front, earlier this year, Celanese introduced the EcoVAE line of vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) emulsion polymers, with a new product for interior paints-EcoVAE 401. "EcoVAE emulsion polymers will allow paint manufacturing companies to develop low VOC, low odor, APE-free interior low gloss paints that perform as well or better than traditional coalescent containing technology on the market today," said Mitchell. "EcoVAE 401 represents a true upgrade over vinyl acrylic technology. It offers superior paint film performance without the need for coalescent agents, as well as a better value. In North America, Celanese is developing new EcoVAE products that will provide the same type of green solutions for additional coatings.

"EcoVAE 401 has been engineered to offer a balance of product performance and environmental profile. It enables the formulation of paints with less than 50 g/l VOC to nearly zero VOC," Mitchell continued. "The surfactant technology used in EcoVAE 401 allows high performance that is comparable to APE-stabilized surfactants used in other emulsions. And EcoVAE offers specific advances for interior paints in wet edge, touch-up performance, scrub resistance, as well as the new brand's hallmark low odor and emissions."

Troy Corp.'s sales of its Polyphase 678 and Polyphase 663 have increased annually as customers reformulate their coatings, caulks, sealants and other construction materials to conform to more stringent green building standards. "Both of these products have been used in coatings meeting the Green Seal standards," said Faherty. "At the American Coatings Show earlier this year, we introduced Mergal 753 as a zero VOC, zero formaldehyde and neutral pH wet state preservative to complement our Polyphase offerings for green coatings."

Troy has also introduced a zero VOC multipurpose wetting additive, Troysol ZLAC, based on its successful LAC technology. "In addition to these products mentioned, we offer additional dry film and in-can preservatives that meet the standards for green coatings," Faherty continued. "Our goal is to provide products that not only meet the definition of green, but significantly contribute value to our customer's product."
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Lubrizol offers a broad portfolio of polymers-acrylic emulsions and polyurethane dispersions-and additives that are waterborne and/or 100% solid products, with a focus on low or no VOC containing systems. "We are striving to continually reduce and eliminate environmentally sensitive components, and are looking more closely at the application demands of our customers' products to see how we can make more impact on the total process of using paints and coatings in building construction," said Dan Latas, marketing manager, North America, paints, coatings and adhesives raw materials, Lubrizol Advance Materials.

"One recently introduced product which addresses more than just VOC compliance is our Turboset 2025 for coatings for wood floors," Latas continued. "It is a unique waterborne self cross-linking urethane dispersion that gives strong performance from a one-component system, comparable to many two-component systems. In addition to allowing formulators to meet VOC limits for wood flooring, the one-component nature-no cross-linker-simplifies and speeds up the contractor's application time, and reduces waste because the unused product does not have to be disposed of as the pot life expires. In addition, by eliminating the cross-linkers used in two-components systems, Turboset 2025 also eliminates the cause of many serious health issues for contractors."

International Specialty Products (ISP) has developed zero-VOC aqueous biocidal products as part of its CleanGuard initiative, whose mission is to provide low or no VOC biocidal protection using well accepted active ingredients specially formulated for safe handling during paint manufacture and use. "None of the new products contains organic solvents," said William Woods, marketing manager, industrial biocides, ISP. "They also have less impact on the environment and are safer to use than conventional biocidal products. In addition, the accompanying manufacturing processes are designed to minimize environmental impact.

"Our customers are looking to manufacture low- to no-VOC paints with no post-application impacts. The ingredients we provide must contribute to, not detract from this ultimate objective; otherwise, they will not have a place in their paint formulations," Woods added. "The Fungitrol 900 series mildewcides and Nuosept 498 in-can preservatives in our CleanGuard family are zero VOC, water-carried formulations of IPBC and BIT, respectively. Both these actives are totally organic and non-metallic, with short half-lives in terrestrial and aquatic environments."

Eliokem's most recent contributions to lowering VOC levels include Pliotec PA91, Pliotec CR30 and Pliotec PA20. "Pliotec PA91 is an all acrylic latex specifically designed for low VOC porch and floor applications. It offers excellent UV resistance, forms film at room temperature and conatains a low coalescent requirement," said Valerie Bokar, communications manager, Eliokem, Inc. "It can also be formulated under 50 g/ VOC and can achieve flat and high gloss finishes.

"Pliotec CR30 is a cross-linking acrylic copolymer designed for permit formulation of garage floor coatings under 50 g/l VOC without compromising performance," Bokar continued. "This resin has excellent water and chemical resistance. Lastly, Pliotec PA20 is a pure acrylic resin that can be formulated below 50 g/l VOC in several horizontal and vertical masonry coatings."

Cytec's resins and additives enable customers to achieve green certifications by formulating low VOC products that adhere to the performance requirements specified in the green certification criteria, according to Bud Equi, global marketing manager-LCRA, Cytec. "Cytec's Resydrol, Viacryl, Additol and Beckopox water-based resin product lines give our customers the ability to formulate very low VOC, low odor coatings to replace current solvent-based products while improving or maintaining performance," he said. "Also, our Resydrol water-based alkyd resins used in trim paints, exterior stains and DTM coatings are based partially on renewable resources."

BYK USA is developing informational tools, in order to help its customers select the additives from its product portfolio that can be used to formulate environmentally friendly paints and coatings. "These tools provide information such as VOC, APEO or formaldehyde content, or toxicological information, which formulators can use to determine which BYK additives can be used to formulate paints meeting regulatory requirements, or standards such as GreenSeal," said Kevin Lassila, director of technology, BYK USA.

"Even though BYK additives generally constitute less than one percent of a coating formulation, paint formulators have expressed concern about even the minute quantities of VOC these additives contribute to their systems," Lassila continued. "Consequently BYK has been modifying many of our manufacturing processes to remove small amounts of residual VOC-sometimes ppm levels-from our products. BYK's sister company, Eckhart, has developed IR reflective pigments which reduce heat transfer through building surfaces, leading to significant reductions in heating and cooling costs

"Often formulation of low VOC coatings is accomplished through the use of resin technologies with low glass transition temperatures which enable film coalescence even in the absence of coalescing solvents, which would contribute VOC to the formulation," Lassila said. "The use of these resins can lead to problems with block resistance and dirt pickup. BYK has been developing wax and other surface additives can reduce or eliminate these negative effects."

Evonik's Tego Coating Additives & Specialty Resins business anticipated the move towards green raw materials a number of years ago, according to Christopher Howard, group leader. "This is why our product development focuses on water, UV or high solids systems," he said. "The majority of products added to the Tego portfolio over the past ten years is low or zero VOC, APE-free, or developed using exempt solvents."

The movement towards green building materials in the U.S. has certainly picked up momentum over the past five years as consumer awareness has increased. "Previously, many of the changes were mandated via regulation; SCAQMD in California for example," noted Howard. "Now the consumer is demanding greener products and the paint companies have also become excellent communicators and marketers in this direction. Five years from now, we expect that being green will be the key to a company's long-term viability.

"Since paints and coatings serve the dual purpose of being both protective and decorative, they are very important in both a practical and fashion sense," Howard said. "Therefore, paint and coatings companies can use the green technology as a platform to provide beauty, protection, and an environmentally and toxicologically safe environment for the consumer."



LEED founder chooses Mythic for home renovation

David Gottfried's home poised to be first Bay area renovation to receive LEED Homes "Platinum" certification.

David Gottfried, founder and first staff president of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and founder of the World Green Building Council, has selected Mythic Paint, a high-performance paint with zero VOCs and zero toxins for the interior and exterior of his "green" remodeled family home.

Variety of color choices, quality and durability were key issues that influenced Gottfried's selection. Also, since Mythic contains no VOCs, he knew it was a healthier choice than low VOC paints.� According to Gottfried his decision to use Mythic was also reinforced by his painting subcontractor. "The painter recommended Mythic," he said. "They had the utmost confidence in its durability, and it was obvious that the paint had a strong position within the building industry."

When Gottfried and his wife, Sara made the decision to relocate their family to Rockridge, CA, they decided to renovate their home according to LEED specifications and set a "green" example in the community. The couple purchased a 1915 Craftsman style bungalow and began planning a renovation for the most energy efficient home possible where there would be no fumes.

With the renovation currently in its final stages, the home will be rated LEED "Platinum," the first renovated home at that level in the Bay Area and potentially in California, according to Mythic. To qualify for Platinum certification, homes are required to meet a minimum of 90 of the 136 points in the LEED for Homes rating system. Homes are measured based on eight categories including:

� location and connection to community;
� use of entire property to minimize impact on sites; sustainability;
� water efficiency and conservation;
� indoor environmental air quality;
� use, durability and recycling of materials and resources;
� energy efficiency;
� homeowner's education for green features; and
� innovation and design process.

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