Sorting Out Green Certifications for Paints and Coatings

The standards for ECOLOGO are from metrics that are more broadly concerned with green issues and sustainability. “This standard is designed to support a continuing effort to improve and maintain environmental quality by reducing energy and material consumption and by minimizing the impacts of pollution generated by the production, use and disposal of goods and services,” explains UL.

Specific categories of assessment include materials, energy, manufacturing and operations, health and environment, product performance and use, and pro-duct stewardship and innovation. Based on specific chemical data, successful paints and coatings will receive the ECOLOGO distinction.

More details about ECOLOGO can be found at

MPI Green Performance Standard

Unlike the other green certifications, the Master Painters Institute’s MPI Green Performance Standard evaluates only paints and coatings. MPI’s certification is in large part due to increased research linking ozone depletion to VOCs from paints and coatings.

MPI standards are based on VOCs, chemical components and performance. Unlike some other certifications, MPI values the longevity of a paint or coating in conversation with its chemical impact because of the basic intention of paints and coatings protecting a surface.

But MPI is sure to outline the uneasy relationship environmental friendliness and performance can have. “The standard addresses environmental friendliness with performance in the context of differing geographical environmental regulatory trends,” says MPI. “It does not address sustainability where higher VOC coatings perform significantly better."

MPI also closely scrutinizes recycled paints. One main concern is that the waste stream needs to be “verifiably environmentally preferable.” Another is that recycled paint must “meet the same minimum performance standards as comparable non-recycled paint.” With MPI, there is little “either/or” with performance and environment – they are both expected to be optimal to receive certification.

Learn more about MPI’s Green Performance Standard at

These certifications have their own unique motives and metrics, but at the same time there is plenty of overlap between them. If you want to go green on your next painting project, research the certifications out there to find the best fit.

Justin Feit is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.

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