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LANDSCAPING & EXTERNAL WORKS What sustainability looks like


Peter Sotherton of Teknos GBI discusses the development of more sustainable exterior paints and coatings, and how they can help client organisations ensure they are acting responsibly when it comes to the environment


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aints and finishes are an important part of the sustainability jigsaw. Good quality performance paints enhance and protect buildings, helping to maintain and extend the life of materials, saving on replacement and the consequent use of natural resources. These are particularly important considerations when specifying paints and coatings for exterior use; for example, those used to protect timber windows, doors, conservatories and cladding. Oil-based paints would traditionally have been the first choice, but these involve the production of toxins, which can harm humans. The most obvious indication of the damage conventional paints can do is the odour they give off due to VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs rank high on the list of concerns when considering paints, although they are found in other materials such as domestic cleaning products and furniture. These chemical compounds vaporise, so the fumes affect those applying the products as well as those occupying the building, because ‘off-gassing’ continues, even after the paint has been applied. This unseen hazard can result in allergic reactions, nausea, dizziness and headaches; VOCs are also linked to cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, professional decorators have a 40 per cent greater risk of lung cancer. Following regulations to minimise, monitor and control the harmful effects of VOCs in 2007, the levels in paints have been steadily reduced, and products must be compliant in formulation and labelling. This does not make all paints equal; some are much more sustainable than others, both in their chemical content and performance in use. Labels such as eco, green and organic are often used in the marketing of paints, but cannot be relied upon when specifying products, as there are no set standards for defining these labels.


Manufacturers that are committed to providing sustainable and innovative solutions offer ranges that include water-borne paints. These are low VOC and, unlike traditional oil-based products, do not


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contain heavy metals and other toxins. They also have a lower carbon footprint and embrace manufacturing processes that have a lower environmental impact. True sustainability goes much deeper than the end product; it should permeate the entire business. Manufacturers that take their responsibilities seriously have sustainability integrated within their business model. Products must use fewer and more sustainable resources; in turn meaning increased use of renewable and secondary raw materials and the analysis of life-cycle impacts.


This means taking responsibility for the entire value chain, from procurement to delivery. Defining and comparing energy and carbon emissions is far from straightforward and the various methodologies and data used


ADF MAY 2019 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


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