Green building

FAQ: Which paints and coatings are suitable for green building projects?

How do you pick paints and coatings for a green building project? Tikkurila’s Technical service answers architects’ frequently asked questions.

Using suitable paint products for LEED and BREEAM projects helps to accrue more credits for the project and, in the best case, improves the certification level of the whole site. But selecting the right products is not always simple, as indicated by the questions below.

How do I know which products meet the requirements of my project?

There are several versions of the LEED and BREEAM environmental certification systems with country-specific differences in requirements as well as different requirements for different buildings or individual site-specific projects. This makes it impossible to provide universally applicable guidelines as to which products are suitable.

In practice, which coatings are suitable will vary depending on the type of site you are designing. As a guideline, VOC content and emissions in paint products should be as low as possible, but it is not possible to specify universally applicable values for the above-mentioned reasons.

To find the required limits for your project, contact the environmental certification consultant overseeing the project. They will have access to a database of low-emission coatings, including applicable Tikkurila products.

Green building

What are emission and VOC content requirements?

Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions contribute to ozone in the lower atmosphere.

Depending on the environmental certification system, you need to:

  • Determine the product’s VOC content either mathematically or based on the ISO 11890-2:2006 standard using gas chromatography, and
  • Know the product’s VOC content and whether it is within the VOC directive 2004/42/EC Annex II Phase II limit values or the VOC content limit values defined in the environmental certification system.

Some environmental certification systems have restrictions on emissions, that is, volatile compounds emitted by paint products. The relevant volatile compounds, their limit values, and the time of the emission measurement vary according to the environmental certification system version, so it’s a good idea to turn to a Tikkurila expert for help with picking the right product.

Before doing this check with the project’s environmental certification consultant to find out any usage restrictions imposed on products.

Which combinations of treatments and paint products are suitable for my site?

Suitable treatment and paint product combinations are always project specific, whether it’s a LEED, BREEAM, RTS, or Nordic Swan Ecolabel project. Every building-related environmental classification certificate focuses on different aspects of applicable products, meaning that the “right product” depends on the site in question.

For example, some environmental classification systems have requirements for the putty applied under the paint layer while others aren’t concerned with this at all.

Restricted paint chemicals also vary according to the environmental classification system being used. For example, in some systems products are not allowed to contain Bisphenol A, chrome, lead, or cadmium.

This is why it is not possible to provide universally applicable guidelines; suitable products need to be identified individually for each project.

Can a product be LEED or BREEAM certified?

LEED and BREEAM certificates are applied for at the construction site, meaning that products used in construction cannot be awarded a certificate. A product can instead meet the requirements set for a product group in the environmental certification system, with these requirements varying by site.

If a product meets the site’s requirement level, a manufacturer-signed statement stating that fact is usually needed.


What information do I need before I contact a coating expert?

For an expert to help you pick the right product, they’ll need the following information:

Is it a LEED or BREEAM project?

Are there instructions for contractors or architects with paint product requirements specified?
If there isn’t, you need information on the specific requirements for paint products in your project. To get this you can refer to the project’s environmental certification consultant.
When you have the required information, we’ll be happy to help you pick the right product. Click here to get in touch!

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