Sustainable Paint

by schmidt on March 16, 2009 · 2 comments

in Miscellaneous Schmidt,Sustainable Building Materials,Sustainable Living

Dwell Magazine has a great piece in this month’s issue on Eco-Friendly House Paints.  I would link the article but Dwell’s site is clunky and I can’t find it.  Good rag though, I always like thumbing through it, and its a local SF business so props to them.  Anyways, I have much love for low/no VOC paints.  Painting is one of the easiest and most cost effective renovation jobs a person can take on, and it can be an opportunity to go and save green at the same time.

I was at Cole Hardware the other day checking out their low/no Benjamine Moore paints, and the prices are very comparable to the regular stuff – within a buck or two.  I have seen the same aggressive pricing at the Kelly Moore stores as well, (BTW – were these like a brother sister family thing, the Moores – that decided to get all competitive with the paint?)

So why low/no VOC paint?  Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t smell like a chemical factory for one thing, so you do not have to fill your lungs with the crap they mix into standard paint. Less chemicals for your house as well, which is always good.

What are these evil VOCs?  As near as I can tell, not being a chemist, they are chemicals like Acetone, Ammonia and Formaldehyde.  In regular paints they are found in concentrations of over 125 parts per liter.  Low VOC paints have less than 20 parts per liter, and no VOCs have, well, I will let you figure that out.  I myself use low/no voc paint exclusively in my rental units and in our remodels.  I have no complaints, it is safer for my workers, better for my tenants, good for the environment, and pretty much the same price.

Win Win, Win and Win.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maddy 04.01.09 at 2:31 pm

Hi Mr. Schmidt,

I’m a fifth grade student at Gardner Bullis in Los Altos, CA. I’m in Sarah Koh’s class. She emailed you and wondered whether you could come in to talk to our class. Anyways, I was wondering if you could maybe tell me some advanced green technologies to help me with my project. In class we’re doing a “Green Project”. Our teacher is very enthusiastic about new green technologies.



2 schmidt 04.02.09 at 10:34 am


I am so glad you posted, and I am happy to hear that you, your class and your teacher are doing such an interesting topic in class. There are a lot of interesting new technologies available: I like to divide then up into 3 categories to help make sense of them all; things that help with power, things that help with water, and new building materials. Let’s pick just one: water. You might know that we are in the middle of a really bad drought. Conserving water is going to be very important to the future of our state, and our planet. One really practical thing that most people can install is a dual flush toilet. An average home with 4 people can use their toilet10 times a day. If that home uses 1.6 gallons each time it flushes, how much water does it use in a day? A dual flush toilet can use .9 gallons per flush if you only go number 1. So if you use your toilet for number 1 half of the time (5) how much water would you save each day? How much water would you save in one year? (365 days) How much over 5 years? Imagine if your whole block did the same thing…

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