A national education campaign to promote sustainable products and trade practices is being launched by not-for-profit organisation GreenPainters . The campaign will target painters, architects, builders and consumers.

Painting has been one of the most toxic and polluting sectors of the construction industry. Not only has painting led to contamination of water after cleaning up, and off-gassing into the atmosphere of poisonous and unhealthy chemicals, but has also contributed to health issues affecting both tradesmen and consumers. There are new products available that will reduce the problem.

GreenPainters aims to increase the awareness of sustainable paints and coatings, and the implementation of environmentally-sensitive trade practices. With the recent push toward ecoconsciousness, many consumers and tradesmen have become more aware of the consequences of using conventional paint systems. Consumers are being urged to consider the environmental impacts of the paints they use.

The GreenPainters Sustainable Painting Program features DIY Sustainable Painting Workshops, which will be available from selected retail outlets, and seminars designed for architects and builders looking to increase their knowledge of paints and coatings for the green building industry, which is forecast to grow at 4.8% this year.

A series of brochures has also been released that provide painting hints and tips to help DIY consumers minimise their impact on the environment, and help tradesmen improve their trade practices.

GreenPainters are also working with Sustainability Victoria, Holmesglen TAFE and Master Painters Association of Victoria to develop an accredited Course in Sustainable Painting, which will begin a pilot scheme mid-year to up-skill painting contractors for the green building industry, and improve their sustainability.

The course will focus on waste-water management, EPA guidelines, Green Star requirements, choosing sustainable paints and coatings, and how to inform consumers of the benefits of using the new paint technology. The course is being developed in consultation with the Green Building Council Australia, Ecospecifier and Good Environmental Choice Australia.

Many painters avoid using the new low-VOC products because of perceived higher cost, and unfamiliarity with them. GreenPainters helps them see that using these products will not only help the environment, but also improve their health. By becoming a GreenPainter they actually gain a marketing advantage.

Using eco-preferable paints does not mean one cannot have the latest fashion colours. There are also some developments in the industry, including paints which reflect solar radiation using nano-technology, which can cut cooling costs by 40%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GreenPainters is a non-profit program, established to provide advice, knowledge and skills to help the painting industry go green. Their website provides objective summaries of sustainable paints and coatings, and information to help builders and renovators achieve the look they want while being environmentally sensitive and healthconscious.