How coatings can help to reduce carbon impact

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How coatings can help to reduce carbon impact

Sarah Trowse, PPG’s Customer Sustainability Business Partner for Global Architectural and Traffic Solutions, explores the role that coatings can play in contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.

It’s no secret that, across the world, we’re becoming more and more conscious of the impact we’re having on the environment – both in our personal and our professional lives. Research conducted by the ONS ahead of last year’s COP26 UN Climate Conference found that 75% of adults in Great Britain were worried about climate change and its impact on their families and future generations.

As well as being a concern for the public, environmental impact is at the top of the agenda for professionals in the built environment, from architects, contractors and manufacturers to government officials and associations. And rightly so – the built environment is responsible for almost 40% of all carbon emissions. As an industry, we need to address the impact of the products, materials and processes we use to not only achieve individual building accreditations from rating systems such as BREEAM, WELL, and LEED, but to collectively meet sustainability targets and combat climate change.

When it comes to coatings, we’ve made it our mission at PPG to ensure architects and designers have access to products that contribute to a reduction in environmental impact and support environmental objectives.

Reducing Emissions

One of the growing topics of conversation in recent years has been around indoor air quality. For both the inside and outside of a building, specifiers need to opt for coatings that minimise the source of harmful pollutants such as VOCs – volatile organic compounds. Controlling these VOCs can be done using low-VOC coatings, including water based or solvent free paints.

PPG has a wide range of low emission solutions, including the Johnstone’s Trade Aqua range and the PPG STEELGUARD intumescent coating. We’ve also developed Johnstone’s Trade Air Pure – a bio-based paint made from 45% recycled materials that has been formulated to neutralise Formaldehyde from indoor air by up to 70%, improving air quality for building users.

Extending maintenance cycles

Reducing the impact of coatings also comes from using highly durable solutions. By applying a durable coating, the need to repair or replace materials because of damage throughout the lifetime of the surface is reduced, as are emissions. Johnstone’s Trade Aqua Guard is one such paint – it is low-VOC and has been formulated with Surface Protection technology that will not soften or become damaged due to everyday wear and tear, helping to extend the lifespan of the painted area.

Similarly, Johnstone’s Trade Stormshield Self Cleaning Masonry is a self-cleaning solution designed with nano-particle technology to keep surfaces looking clean for longer. It has a 15-year life expectancy, meaning less work is needed in terms of cleaning and redecoration. What’s more, with fewer trips being taken to the building by maintenance teams, travel emissions are decreased, therefore contributing to the building’s overall sustainability credentials.

Improving thermal efficiency

When it comes to building performance, improving thermal efficiencies helps to reduce the amount of power needed to heat them. If we take brick buildings for example, walls, doors and windows are a major source of heat loss, with up to 35% of escaped heat passing through them. While cavity wall insulation would be the perfect solution to ensuring heat can’t escape through walls, installing it in buildings constructed with solid walls can be a lengthy and costly process. That’s where coatings come in.

By specifying external wall insulation (EWI) systems, we can provide a protective layer on the outside of a building to stop heat escaping, improving thermal efficiency, reducing heating costs and ultimately limiting CO2 pollution. Not only that, EWI systems can improve the aesthetics of the building at the same time, too.

As an industry, we’ve made great strides in reducing the impact our processes and product decisions have on the environment, but there’s more we’ll continue to do. Read more about PPG’s commitment to sustainability in our ESG report, or get in touch to chat to one of our team about supporting your upcoming projects.