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Paints & Finishes

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285paintIn some ways painting is a very sustainable thing to do as it preserves and protects buildings from the damaging effects of rain, UV radiation and corrosion.


However some paints are a toxic mix of chemicals that could be dangerous to your health. According to a study by the CSIRO, the indoor air quality of new Australian homes may be up to 20 times the maximum allowable limits of toxicity and some harmful emissions can last for years. One of the main sources of toxic air quality is paint.


While paints nowadays do not contain high levels of lead, some do contain various harmful substances and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are added to paints to improve their performance and to add colour. VOCs are chemicals containing carbon that evaporate into the atmosphere at room temperature. VOCs slowly make their way to the surface and 'offgas' into the surrounding air.


In recent years many manufacturers have reduced the amount of VOCs in paints and launched 'low VOC' ranges that comply with limits set by the Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS). However the 'low VOC' claim in some paints may only apply to the base product and not the tints that are used to colour the paint.


Opt for products which have been independently certified by recognised eco-labeling programs. European products often carry the EU Flower ecolabel, Blue Angel ecolabel or Nordic Swan ecolabel.

Manufacturers here in Australia are able to have their products certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia. The GECA program conducts a comprehensive life cycle based assessment of product compliance to voluntary environmental declaration standards and is a member of the Global Ecolabelling Network. Low-VOC paints with the GECA label have excellent durability, comparable to conventional paints.


Paints or products that carry the Energy Star symbol have been independently certified by the Energy

Star program as significantly increasing the reflectance of solar radiation by the painted surface. Energy Star certified products can aid a building to reflect unwanted solar energy by up to 50%, reduce its temperature and thereby lower the costs of cooling. Using these products may also help your home achieve Green Star credits.


Using greener paints in sustainable buildings doesn't have to add significant cost to the project. Ultra-low VOC paints are comparable in price with premium paints and plant or mineral-based paints only cost fractionally more.


Amma Earth Products – Volvox -
Ph. 02 4782 9009

Bauwerk -
Ph. 08 9433 1008

Bioproducts Australia -
Ph. 1800 809 448

Colours by Nature -
Ph. 1300 249 347

Dulux -
Ph. 13 25 25

eColour - climate friendly paint -
Ph. 1300 326 568

Livos Australia -
Ph. 03 9779 3405

Murobond Coatings -
Ph. 1800 199 299

Natural Paint P/L -
Ph. 02 65845699

Peerless JAL P/L -
Ph. 1800 800 248

Porters Paints -
Ph. 1800 656 664

Rockcote -
Ph. 1300 736 668

Synteko -
Ph. 02 9406 8100

Wattyl Group -
Ph. 132 101

Listed suppliers are a guide and are not endorsed by Green Cross Australia or the Alternative Technology Association.

Green Cross Australia, PO Box 12117, George Street, Brisbane QLD 4003, Australia
Ph: +61 (0)7 3003 0644        Fax: +61 (0)7 3003 0855
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