Sustainability and Green Design

Specifying high-performing paints for building longevity
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Sponsored by Benjamin Moore & Co.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the value of a thoughtful approach to material specifications to meet or exceed sustainability goals over the life of a project.
  2. Recognize the importance of reviewing transparency reports and specifying products that have secured health product declarations (HPDs), environmental product declarations (EPDs), and Declare labels.
  3. Describe how specifying environmentally responsible, high-performing paints can reduce maintenance and improve a building’s longevity.
  4. Explain the importance of ensuring that contractors use specified materials and products that support project sustainability goals.


1 GBCI CE Hour
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
As an IACET Accredited Provider, BNP Media offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Corporate responsibility addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental impacts as well as their relationships in all key spheres of influence, including the workplace, marketplace, supply chain, community, and public-policy realm. Elements of corporate responsibility include: philanthropy/social impact, governance, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. Sustainability issues include:

  • carbon footprint and energy, such as clean energy options, lighting, heating, air- conditioning and computers;
  • use of materials, such as recycling, going paperless, and zero landfill;
  • sourcing/supply chain, such as policies and standards, and procurement practices, measurement, and disclosure;
  • product development, such as development of environmentally friendly products;
  • water usage and management, such as oversight of water usage and pollution;
  • human rights, such as development and enforcement of standards of pay, treatment of employees, and employees of suppliers; and
  • transportation, such as examination of innovative practices to lessen environmental impact of shipment of materials and products.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore & Co.

Green design and sustainability go beyond just the product and can be seen in corporate practices, such as employees engaging with the local environment.

In many industries, the move toward corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability is gaining traction and, in some cases, becoming an integral part of a company’s business strategy. The building industry is no different, with architects, designers, and building owners beginning to understand the long-term financial benefits of green design and sustainable products. Benefits can stem from energy efficiency to reduced maintenance costs and from overall building longevity to improved overall building health for occupants. In this context, it helps to understand how and why a thoughtful approach to material and product specification can help achieve, and possibly exceed, a project’s sustainability goals.

Some companies tend to be ahead of the curve, whether it’s in product development, manufacturing processes, or, in a less immediately obvious sense, how they engage with sustainability and green design practices. A quality product often reflects more than just a company’s commitment to developing products that will sell well; environmental responsibility may be reflected in many different levels of the corporation, from the physical buildings to the corporate culture, sustainability, and beyond.

More importantly, when companies develop sustainable products, it supports sustainable ideals of architects and contractors, building owners and occupants, and the customers they serve. For example, high-performing paint products—those that meet or exceed environmental and performance criteria regarding volatile organic compounds (VOCs), emissions, application, washability, scrubbability, and packaging—can help minimize maintenance time and cost, extend a building’s longevity, and maintain the well-being of a building’s occupants.

Often overlooked in the quest for a sustainable environment is a company’s environmental sustainability practices. These practices may not be overtly visible in the products it produces and instead can include how a company develops its products. Some harder-to-see sustainability approaches companies may take include working to reduce toxicity and striving to use safer materials; using renewable energy sources; managing their waste and water; and operating their sites. Ideally, these practices extend to product design goals; for example, ways to improve a product’s performance while also reducing unwanted chemicals or compounds.

A company that looks through the lens of sustainability at its product manufacturing process and daily operation can enjoy the same benefits as builders and building occupants. Greater comfort, lower energy use, a more healthful building environment, greater durability, and knowledge that today’s actions are in line with tomorrow’s needs are all recognized benefits of a sustainable perspective. For consumers, it may be difficult to recognize that large manufacturers are actively pursuing sustainable goals in their daily operations, facilities, and overall philosophy; however, many of today’s businesses are leading the way in sustainable practices.

Whether the push comes from new energy code requirements or the many voluntary standards and rating systems, architects, designers, and owners are shifting their focus as well to the different ways their projects can incorporate sustainable materials and practices, all while preserving the health and well-being of building occupants. A big part of that is ensuring that the products and materials used in the projects are sourced from trusted manufacturers that share the value of sustainable environmental practices.

Architects that specify products from such companies make a statement too, not only by supporting environmentally responsible manufacturers but also by specifying products that enhance the sustainability of their projects and create better environments for the building occupants.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2019