Person pouring white paint into a paint tray with a roller.

GreenNY Specification: Paint, Primer & Coating

Covered Products

Latex paints and primers for both interior and exterior applications. Recycled content paints are covered by this specification.

 

Definitions

Acceptable third-party certifications: Third-party certifications for latex paints and primers that restrict chemicals of concern, limit either VOC content or emissions, and require products to meet performance standards or commensurate attributes.

Coatings: A coating is a material such as paint, varnish, stain, or adhesive that is applied for the function of beautifying, covering, finishing, protecting, or sealing the surface it is applied to. For the purposes of this specification, coatings are limited to those that are applied as a liquid.

Intentionally Added: Intentionally added means the deliberate use of a chemical in the product’s formulation to serve an intended function. The chemical may be introduced in the manufacturing process in a way that is not intentionally added for a function. For example, PFAS that are present in post-consumer paint used to develop recycled content paint were not intentionally added as PFAS was not added in the recycling process.

Latex paint: A water-based paint with a synthetic binder such as acrylic, vinyl acrylic, or other such polymers.

PFAS: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are widely used in coatings and products to resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. These chemicals are a concern as they do not break down in the environment, leading to bioaccumulation and the risk of long-term environmental and human health effects.

Recycled content paint: Paint that has been reprocessed to meet specific performance measures and contains a minimum of 50% by volume post-consumer paint and a maximum of 50% by volume secondary industrial materials or virgin materials.

Strong third-party certifications: Third-party certifications for latex paints and primers that restrict chemicals of concern (COC), limit VOC content and emissions, and require products to meet performance standards.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC): Human-made or naturally occurring organic chemical compounds that easily enter the air as gasses from some solids or liquids and are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, adhesives, some building materials, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. VOCs are present in nearly all interior environments. Reduction of the introduction of VOCs in interior environments is part of maintaining good indoor air quality.

 

Standard Setting and Certifying Programs

Cradle to Cradle is a multi-attribute eco-label that evaluates a wide range of products across five categories of human and environmental health. The standard includes material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, and water stewardship. For more information, visit the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute website.

Green Seal is a non-profit, independent, third-party standard setting and certification organization that follows the Guiding Principles and Procedures for Type I Environmental Labeling adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14024). Green Seal has developed environmental standards and certifies products for more than 40 major product categories. For more information, visit the Green Seal website.

Green Wise is a third-party certification for paints and coatings administered by the Coatings Research Group Incorporated (CRGI), a non-profit association of paint and coating manufacturers. CRGI maintains an ISO 17025 certified laboratory to ensure compliance with the two certifications they oversee. For more information, visit the Green Wise website.

Master Painters Institute is a non-profit, third-party standard setting and certification organization focused on quality assurance in the paint and coating industry. They have three separate multi-attribute eco-standards that cover all types of paints and coatings – MPI Extreme Green, Green Performance Standard 1, and Green Performance Standard 2. For more information, visit the Master Painters Institute website.

SCS Indoor Advantage Gold is a third-party certification for emissions limits to ensure compliance with the State of California’s Department of Public Health “Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010)” (California Section 01350). For more information, visit the SCS Global Services website.

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the smoggiest region of the U.S. Standards set by this pollution control agency are cited in LEED rating systems as well as regulation related to air quality in buildings. For more information, visit the SCAQMD website.

UL GREENGUARD Gold is a single-attribute certification for low-emitting products such as flooring, adhesives, paints, furniture, building construction products, insulation, and many others. For more information, visit the UL GREENGUARD website. To view UL GREENGUARD Gold products, visit the UL SPOT Database.

US EPA Safer Choice is a multi-attribute certification by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This standard restricts chemical ingredients to protect human health and the environment, restricts VOC content, requires the use of sustainable packaging, and ensures product performance is comparable to conventional products. For more information and to view the standard visit the EPA Safer Choice website.

USDA Certified Biobased is a third-party certification of the biobased content in a product and its packaging administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The content is quantified using ASTM International D6866. For more information, visit the USDA BioPreferred website.

 

Specifications

1. Choose Latex over Oil Paint
The procurement of latex paints is encouraged over oil paints.

2. Recycled Paint
Affected entities shall, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase recycled content paints over virgin paints for interior, exterior, and specialty uses.

3. Chemicals of Concern
Affected entities, to the maximum extent practicable, shall purchase paints, primers, and coatings that meet the following standards:

  • Shall not contain mercury, methylene chloride, or perchloroethylene
  • Shall not contain intentionally added PFAS

For interior latex wall and ceiling paints, primers:

  • Shall not exceed the VOC content limits required by 6 NYCRR § 205.3.

For specialty paints, primers, and coatings:

  • Shall not exceed the VOC limits established by the applicable South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) standard (pg. 15-16); OR
  • Have a VOC content that does not exceed 100 g/L

4. Certifications
When purchasing virgin paints, primers, and coatings, affected entities shall to the maximum extent practicable, procure paints and primers that have at least one of the following multi-attribute third-party certifications:

Interior and exterior latex wall and ceiling paints and primers have at least one of the following multi-attribute third-party certifications:

  • Cradle to Cradle (Silver or higher);
  • Green Seal: GS-11 Paints, Coatings, Stains, and Sealers;
  • Green Wise Gold;
  • Master Painters Institute (MPI) Extreme Green; and
  • MPI Green Performance Standard 
    • Green Performance Standard 2 (GPS-2)
    • Green Performance Standard 1 (GPS-1)

Specialty latex paints, primers and coatings have at least one of the following multi-attribute third-party certifications:

  • Cradle to Cradle (Silver or higher);
  • Green Seal: GS-11 Paints, Coatings, Stains, and Sealers;
  • Master Painters Institute (MPI) Extreme Green;
  • MPI Green Performance Standard; and 
    • Green Performance Standard 2 (GPS-2);
    • Green Performance Standard 1 (GPS-1);
  • US EPA Safer Choice (spray paint only);
Third-party CertificationRestrict COCsVOC content limitVOC emission limitPerformance standards
MPI X-GreenXXXX
MPI GPS 2XX X
MPI GPS 1XX X
Green Seal-11XX X
Cradle to CradleX X 
UL EcoLogo 2768XX X

 

Affected entities are encouraged, to the maximum extent practicable, to purchase products with the following environmental attributes:

  • SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certification, solely focused on VOC emissions
  • UL GREENGUARD Gold certification, solely focused on VOC emissions
  • USDA Biobased certification, solely focused on amount of renewable content
  • Compliance with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) limit on VOCs of 50 grams/liter. This attribute only applies to paints other than interior flats.
  • A Health Product Declaration (HPD), solely focused on potential chemicals of concern, has been published by the manufacturer

 

Take-Back/ Recycling

Affected entities are encouraged to:

  • Keep and appropriately maintain an appropriate amount of excess paint for future projects and recycle any excess paint whenever possible.
  • Include a take-back agreement from the manufacturer in the procurement of paint.
  • Work with the vendor during the purchasing process to only purchase the amount of paint necessary for the project and to look at available donation and recycling options for excess paint, regardless of manufacturer.
  • Work with contractors who offer programs that include take-back and the proper environmental disposal of materials (including materials manufacturers and sold by others).

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 27, Title 20 requires producers of architectural paint sold in New York state to take part in a postconsumer paint collection and recycling program. State Agencies are reminded to direct unused paint to a PaintCare drop-off site for recycling or contact PaintCare for a Large Volume Pick-up (100 gallons or more).

 

Packaging

Packaging shall comply with Environmental Conservation Law section 37-0205. Packaging shall not contain inks, dyes, pigments, adhesives, stabilizers, or any other additives to which any lead, cadmium, mercury, or hexavalent chromium is intentionally added or contain incidental concentrations of lead, cadmium, mercury, or hexavalent chromium which together are greater than 100 parts per million by weight (0.01%).
New York State encourages affected entities to adopt the following in order of preference when purchasing items that come in packaging:

  • Items that do not need packaging, or the packaging is part of the product.
  • Items that come in reusable packaging.
  • Items that come in bulk packaging.
  • Items that come in innovative packaging that reduces the amount of packaging.
  • Items that come in packaging that remains the property of the supplier and does not become the property of the end user under any circumstance or condition. The vendor shall certify that the packaging material will be reused, recycled, or composted, and managed in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  • Items that come in packaging that maximizes recycled or biodegradable (compostable) content and/or meets or exceeds the minimum post-consumer content level for packaging in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. Biodegradable products should only be used in areas where a composting facility exists that accept the material.
  • Items that come in Packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable (compostable). Biodegradable products should only be used in areas where a composting facility exists and will accept the material.