Product Review

Interior Paints: LEED v4 and Beyond

LEED v4 overhauled its low-emitting materials credit, with a new emphasis on VOC content and emissions. But be sure to look for durability as well.

September 6, 2017

Finding a low-emitting paint used to be such a simple task. We could look at a paint can and see the volatile organic compound content in grams per liter (g/l). In LEED v2009, if a paint met the VOC requirements for South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule #1113, we were good to go. For standard flat acrylic latex paints, that meant 50 g/l or less.

But VOCs are not so simple. VOC limits were first established by SCAQMD in Southern California as a way to combat ozone and ground-level smog caused by VOCs reacting with pollutants and sunlight. The volatile solvents in paint were a major VOC source—and usually hazardous as well—so waterborne solvents replaced them in low- and zero-VOC paints, leading to less pollution and better indoor air quality.