Painting Innovation: Q&A with Steve Revnew

The Sherwin-Williams Vice President of Product Development discusses the company's latest advances in fighting airborne pollutants.

One half of our nation’s schools have problems linked to indoor air quality (IAQ), usually resulting from an increased exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These airborne pollutants may originate from the room’s construction materials, furniture, or even the paint on its walls. Hazards like VOCs can prove disruptive in a child’s formation, leading, for instance, to greater risks of asthma. How might designers and manufacturers develop solutions to these problems? For Sherwin-Williams, innovations in paint admixtures have been shown to vitiate the adverse effects of industrial paint. Here I speak with Steve Revnew, Sherwin-Williams Vice President of Product Development, on the company’s efforts to improve the air quality in American schools.

Susan S. Szenasy: How has the coatings industry evolved in the past five years, including its approach to VOCs?  And how do you see it evolving in the next five years?

Steve Revnew: Coating technologies have evolved significantly over the past five years and we will continue to see advancements as coatings become even more multi-functional. In the past, there were only a few coatings companies focusing on designing coatings with the environment in mind, and today we have a broad range of options that are Greenguard Gold certified, and even a product that reduces airborne VOCs such as formaldehyde and other aldehydes. For Sherwin-Williams, our innovation road map is based on evaluating industries that are facing particular challenges and then looking at how coatings advancements can contribute to overcoming those challenges. We are committed to providing the best product available with the most benefits for our customers. That really is the future of the coatings industry—multifunctional offerings, designed with the environment in mind, that help to overcome facility challenges and deliver long-lasting aesthetics.

Sherwin-Williams zero-VOC enhance Harmony Paint was used to paint classrooms in a public middle school in Georgia.

SSS: Which S-W product are you most proud of, when you think of its use to make schools healthy learning environments? Why is this product important to schools, children and educators?  

SR: The comfort of students and teachers is among the many factors that contribute to learning and productivity in the classroom. Despite building advancements, indoor air quality is a constant concern for educational facilities. Our new enhanced Harmony Paint, a zero-VOC formula, contains Odor Eliminating Technology that reduces interior odors of organic origin so rooms stay fresher, longer.

It also features Sherwin-Williams Formaldehyde Reducing Technology that reduces airborne VOCs once the paint has dried. The product works when airborne aldehydes, which can come from sources such as building materials, carpet or fabrics, “bump into” dry enhanced Harmony Paint, which converts them into water molecules and harmless inert gas. The result is a substantial reduction of airborne VOC levels.

SSS: What did the study entail, was it validated by a third-party organization? What steps did you take to ensure the validity of the findings?

SR: Greenguard and Sherwin-Williams conducted a study to determine how Sherwin-Williams zero-VOC enhanced Harmony Paint with Formaldehyde Reducing Technology could reduce airborne formaldehyde levels in a typical school environment, in this case, with a public middle school in Savannah, Georgia. Greenguard conducted two controlled demonstration studies to evaluate the impact that different types of paints had on indoor air quality, to accurately measure VOC elimination. A range of controlled chamber tests was also conducted to confirm the validity of the findings. The study showed a 45 percent reduction of VOCs in rooms painted with Sherwin-Williams enhanced Harmony, a drastic improvement in classrooms’ air quality.

Tests from the middle school classrooms showed a 45 percent reduction of VOCs.

SSS: What technologies are featured in this product? How are they helping to improve educational facilities?

SR: Twenty percent of the U.S. population spends their days in elementary and secondary schools, and studies show that half of our nation’s 115,000 schools have problems linked to indoor air quality. Young students in particular are at greater risk of exposure to indoor air pollutants because of the hours spent in school facilities, their biological susceptibility, and the inability to detect airborne hazards. The Indoor Air Quality Study with Greenguard demonstrated that Sherwin-Williams enhanced Harmony Paint—featuring Formaldehyde Reducing and Odor Eliminating Technologies—truly delivers on VOC reduction and, in turn, improves indoor air quality for these important learning environments.

In production: samples of Sherwin-Williams’s zero-VOC enhanced Harmony Paint.

SSS: What other applications do you see for this product? How are these technologies relevant to noneducational environments?

SR: Indoor air quality is a growing concern for many industries, making enhanced Harmony Paint a viable solution beyond the educational environment.  There are many examples of where this product can provide substantial benefits, including the healthcare arena, which serves populations that are extremely sensitive to airborne irritants; residential complexes, with cafeterias and restrooms that can benefit from odor-reducing and mold-inhibiting solutions at the paint surface; fitness centers, where occupants are breathing at high rates and taking in a significant amount of indoor air; and child care centers, which cater to a young and sensitive population. We believe the Greenguard IAQ study findings show the significant impact these innovations can have on indoor air quality, and demonstrate the benefits of using coatings with advanced technologies.

This article is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams.

Categories: Interior Products, Sponsored