In recent times, thermal shield paints, which block the heat from the sun from entering the buildings by either reflecting the heat away or through conduction, hence, reducing energy waste, have gained increasing acceptance across the regional markets. Are the new green building regulations being implemented across the Gulf countries encouraging building owners and developers to accelerate the adoption of these specialised paints? We found out …
One of the pioneering companies in the field of eco-friendly painting and coating solutions is Jotun Paints.
The company has recently rolled out its ‘GreenSteps’ initiative, a five-point goal programme to reassure consumers that Jotun products are better formulated and conformed to world class green building standards. The five ‘GreenSteps’ include the move to reduce energy consumption; reduce carbon footprint; reduce waste; reduce the use of solvent or Volatile Organic Content (VOC) and reduce the use of hazardous materials.
Jotun boasts a diverse range of environmentally sustainable paints, such as “Jotashield Extreme” and its “Cool Shades” collection.
Thermal shield technology is based on the use of special types of black pigments in the paint which work as a heat reflector.
Sverre Knudsen, General Manager − Abu Dhabi at Jotun Paints, explains how the technology works.
“Glass bubbles in the paint reflect sunlight,” he says. “In the Jotashield range, it’s a bit complicated to add on, but the interest is there in the market. Jotashield Extreme is the latest advancement. The colour pigment reflects the heating rays of the sun away from the walls. You can use it as [you would use] an ordinary paint.”
The lifespan of the paint is about six to eight years, depending on the impact of wind and sand.
Knudsen claims that the product reduces indoor temperature by 3°C and electricity consumption by a minimum of 10%.
This means that, although Jotashield Extreme is 10% more expensive than Jotun’s conventional paints, the payback period is about one year, he says.
Knudsen believes that these environmentally sustainable paints should be of interest to all home owners, as they reduce energy costs.
“The authorities here want to bring down energy consumption, so we are sure this is the [right] product for the area,” he argues.
The company, which has already tested the paints in residential buildings across South East Asia, intends to do the same in the UAE.
In 2010, Sigma Paints Saudi Arabia introduced an unprecedented zero VOC paint system, the company claims. “VOCs are organic chemicals that readily vaporise at room temperature. They are called organic because they contain the element carbon in their molecular structures,” Antoine Lejuez, Sigma Paints Marketing Manager − Middle East, explains.
VOCs include a very wide range of individual substances, such as hydrocarbons, halocarbons and oxygenates, which are very harmful to the environment and human health.
The new Zero VOC product range from Sigma Paints consists of water-based products, which are absolutely ‘clean’ paints and don’t contain any harmful substances for human beings, the company claims.
Lejuez says: “We are looking at sustainability and green products. Our company has a long history of producing environmentally-sound products, even before it was trendy to do so.”
He adds: “Sigma Paints today can lead the way towards green thinking in a broader spectrum in the construction field and become a role model in this region.”
According to Sigma, its new ‘Eco Protection’ label indicates that all the products bearing the logo are water-based, lead-free and contain low amounts of VOCs. The assortment of products that meet the eco-protection guidelines comprises primers, fillers, textures and emulsions.
In order to comply with the stringent European standards, Lejuez explains, the company needed to reformulate all its products without compromising their visual colour standards, which was a long process taking around five years of extensive research and development, and involving bringing in new raw materials and working both in the laboratory and with end-users to bring the VOC content of many of its lines to below the European standard.
“Throughout the world, we see an increasing awareness towards sustainability,” Lejuez says.
He argues that this topic is increasingly influencing the buying behaviour of consumers and also the way corporations run their businesses.
“In line with these trends, we see an increasing demand for paint concepts that give a positive contribution towards a more sustainable environment,” Lejuez points out.
“Different laws have been implemented to ensure a more sustainable living. For example, there are specific guidelines for coatings, which indicate the quantities of particular materials to be used as a percentage level.”
In his view, stricter building specifications that promote a total “green” concept are also gaining ground. This means that not only building materials should meet ecological standards, but also the techniques used in the construction phase and the location of the buildings should meet such standards.
“In line with these standards, we now cooperate with different independent organisations such as LEED, Green Seal and MPI that puts restrictions on the level of toxic materials used in paints,” Lejuez explains.
Mustafa Turra, Regional Marketing Manager – Middle East at Berger Paints, emphasises that there are a number of technical criteria that external façade paints should meet to achieve optimal protection in hot, wet and dry environments.
These are excellent UV and weather resistance, good anti bacterial, fungal and algal resistance, good mechanical properties such as flexibility, adhesion, and abrasion resistance, water vapour transmission, chloride ion diffusion resistance and anti-carbonation properties.
He observes that usually maintenance of external coatings is not done properly and periodically.
“However, having coating with good dirt pickup and anti-graffiti properties helps in the long term.”
Turra explains that the main trends in the field of sustainable and eco-friendly painting solutions include the use of low VOCs, lead- and heavy metal-free paints, as well as light- and heat-reflective products which reduce the heating of buildings and power consumption.
In his view, generally speaking, end-users have a low level of environmental awareness, and therefore, don’t seem particularly concerned with the environmental impact of conventional paints.
“Green building regulations have not forced owners to take notice until now,” Turra argues, “but we have seen a lot of activity from Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments and municipalities recently, and we hope that this will change things.”