Q&A: What does the Green Wise logo on paint cans indicate?

Consumer Reports News: May 27, 2010 04:00 PM

I'm shopping for paint to redo a couple of rooms at home, and some brands have a Green Wise logo on the can. What is Green Wise?

Green Wise, developed by the Coatings Research Group Inc., is a green certification for paints, like those we covered in our latest review of interior finishes: Green Promise (Benjamin Moore), Green Seal, Greenguard, and GreenSure (Sherwin-Williams).
GreenWise Logo
Manufacturers pay to use the Green Wise seal.

The Green Wise certification standard for interior paints is similar to those other four; it limits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to 50 grams per liter for flat finishes and 100 grams per liter for nonflat finishes. Green Wise certification also prohibits other hazardous substances, including formaldehyde and methylene chloride, and includes a test for washability.

CRGI charges manufacturers a $20,000 membership fee, which covers the cost of testing and licensing of the Green Wise logo. Two finishes in our latest ratings of interior paints (available to subscribers) have Green Wise certification: Ace Royal Interior and Mythic.

As more low-VOC paints have come onto the market in recent years, we've seen a growth in green certification of them. Green certification of paints, done by manufacturers themselves, industry groups, and other parties, is similar in some ways to the federal Energy Star program for appliances and other household products. Manufacturers prominently place green-certification symbols on the cans of their low-VOC finishes, just as appliance makers feature the Energy Star label on their wares. For paint and appliance makers, the labels enhance their green bona fides and perhaps even boost sales.

Daniel DiClerico

Essential information: If you're planning to paint your home, use the advice in our free buyer's guide to paints.

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