photo of LEED v4 specs for architectural paints and coatings

LEED v4: What Painters Need to Know

Answers to pro painters’ most pressing questions by Rick Watson

We’re hearing a lot about LEED v4. As a painting contractor, what do I need to know?

Green building has evolved beyond an emphasis on the sustainable design and building construction to the environment it creates for inhabitants. This shift in priority is reflected by the sunset of LEED 09 and the development of LEED v4, which focuses on human health beyond previous LEED building certification systems.

Under LEED 09, paint and other building materials were addressed and evaluated according to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To achieve LEED v4 accreditation for the same products, however, VOC emissions must also be taken into consideration.

Off-gassing as a byproduct of VOCs

When paint dries, VOCs can evaporate out into the atmosphere and produce what qualifies as VOC emissions.

When a product releases VOCs, it’s considered off-gassing. These present and expressed VOCs can have a major impact on the qualification of products for LEED v4, though it’s important to note that, in some cases, a local regulation may require a lower VOC level than LEED v4 requirements.

Three-point play

Under LEED v4, architectural paints and coatings can now help contribute points across three different credit categories, which focus on:

  • Emissions (EQ Credit)
  • Product disclosure and material ingredients (MR Credit)
  • Integrated analysis of building materials (Pilot Credit)

Get help understanding the rules

One of your greatest resources for understanding the new regulations is your Sherwin-Williams team.

Not only can your local sales rep walk you through the appropriate coatings and documentation, but we have developed new website resources to help guide you through the requirements.

Download our Green Programs and VOC Coatings Reference Guide at

Certified paint products meeting UL green guidelines

Sherwin-Williams is the first paint manufacturer to be certified in Underwriters Laboratories’ new Product Lens program designed to help specifiers meet green guidelines and satisfy Materials Ingredients disclosure credits outlined by LEED v4. ProMar® 200 Zero VOC Interior Latex Paint was the first product certified by the program.

You can download a list of products that have been independently third-party certified by UL and contribute toward satisfying specific EQ credits and LEED v4 requirements at

Also identified are products that satisfy standards set by the many regulatory bodies like California Air Resources Board (CARB).

More resources

If you want to take a deeper dive into the new regulations, see my story LEED v4’s Impact on Paint & Coatings.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of PPC magazine. Rick Watson, director of Product Information and Technical Services at Sherwin-Williams, answers questions from pro painters in the Ask Your ProPartner™ column in PPC magazine.

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