I alluded in the last post (Utility sink) that we are ready to paint the freshly installed and finished drywall.

I will not delight you with another time lapse showing us painting, but rather talk about our product choice.

Based on our project principles and goal to provide good indoor air quality (IAQ), using anything but a zero-VOC product was non-negotiable.

I expected, in this day and age, to find a good choice and range of products and suppliers of zero-VOC paints.

Considering that zero-VOC paints are one of the lowest hanging ‘green’ fruits out there, and probably very popular with the ‘green’ and/or ‘green-wash’ minded population, I anticipated that commerce would drive this train fast and furious.

To my surprise, it took me a while to research and find a suitable and affordable product. My experience was vaguely similar to that described in the post Service Desert, although nowhere near as painful.

The Home Depot advertises their ‘eco-option’ products, and has had a strong showing at the USGBC Greenbuild conference over the past few years.

Yet, my local Home Depot does not carry zero-VOC paints. I would have to drive all the way to a store on Chicago’s north side, where they stock zero-VOC paints. And I am apparently not the only one running into this problem.

It appears that rather than leading the market, The Home Depot is following the customer.

Fair enough, let’s try my local Menards. Lo and behold, I find zero-VOC paint for a very good price – and a ‘Green Cert’ label. This is where I got suspicious. There are a couple of ‘green’ designations that I am aware off, such as LEED compliant or Greenguard.

And there are designations that, for whatever reason, feel they have to come up with their own label. This may be an effective marketing strategy, but also confuses the consumer and makes it difficult to separate the green-wash from actual sound sustainable products.

Does the average consumer have the time to research all this? Probably not, and nor have I. Why not turn to someone who has done the research for us, the consumers?

After a moment of thought and short trip, I find myself in the Green Depot, where I have access to a variety of zero-VOC paints in different price ranges.

We opted for the zero-VOC Ivy primer and paint. I didn’t know any better, but our neighbor Norman, who does quite a bit of painting and helped me out, commented about how nice it was without those nasty fumes.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

One thought on “Painting

  1. But we still want to see a picture of the finished space!

    We used Benjamin Moore Natura for our remodeling – spec’d it into the contract, although our ‘green’ contractor hadn’t noticed that notation in the architect’s plans when he did the pricing. Protested when I gave him the list of paint colors /brand, but complied when I told him what page of the plans specified it. (Not as green a contractor as I had thought.)

    I hope you have a lot of followers on this blog, as there is still so much education to be done, and this is helping. Even the self-proclaimed green people aren’t necessarily green. When I said to our contractor, mid-way through our remodeling project, that I had assumed he was green but I must have been mistaken, he said he was green, LEED AP. But practical green, he said. What the heck?!

    Sorry – just needed to rant a little. Keep up the great work!

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