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The Role of Advanced Coatings in Integrated Design

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2019

By Robert J. Kobet, AIA


I am currently enjoying a new position in academia after 35 years of practicing internationally as an architect in the fields of sustainable design and development, high-performance green buildings, LEED consulting and environmental education. My “working retirement” as an adjunct professor of architecture happily extends my previous parallel career as a college professor specializing in integrated design and environmental stewardship.

My current responsibilities include teaching courses in Environmental Technology and an upper level Integrated Design Studio. In both, I encourage my students to think spherically about what they are designing in an effort to produce comprehensive, well-considered design solutions that address the challenges of sustainable design and development. A basic tenet of this pursuit is the question: “If you are only addressing one issue with one design gesture, what else could it be doing, and how best can it be integrated into a more comprehensive approach to your work?” This question can be asked of a multitude of design issues both large and small.

Such it is with architectural coatings. In the decades I have practiced I have seen the evolution away from toxic paints, sealers and adhesives to the extensive inventory of cost effective low-VOC and no-VOC alternatives that perform well and do not harm the environment, those who apply them or anyone occupying the finished spaces. The development of these products has been, and continues to be, supported by federal agencies, allied testing organizations, professional associations and retail business interests.

Alberto Masnovo / Getty Images

I encourage my students to think spherically about what they are designing in an effort to produce comprehensive, well-considered design solutions that address the challenges of sustainable design and development. A basic tenet of this pursuit is the question: “If you are only addressing one issue with one design gesture, what else could it be doing, and how best can it be integrated into a more comprehensive approach to your work?"

Current emphasis is on increased efforts to improve the labeling transparency and reliability of products that profess to be ecologically benign while improving performance. This has resulted in some brands claiming 100% transparency. As is often the case, this has led to some interesting innovation.

One example of this is the development of reflective coatings which use chemistry and/or glass beads to create reflective and sometimes luminous surfaces. These surface coatings open new avenues for integrated design wherein the traditional role of paints and exterior coatings that traditionally have supplied only weather resistance and aesthetics can now also provide increased thermal performance and better illumination. The use of glass beads improves the paint’s resistance to conductive heat gains as well as radiant heat gain.

The potential for reducing cooling loads using a solution as simple as painting exterior building components is particularly attractive in the residential sector of hot climates, but the same technology can be applied to non-residential applications such as refrigerated storage trucks and warehouses (especially those with large, flat roofs), oil and gas storage tanks and cryogenic tankers—any application where it is beneficial to keep the inside cool.

I anticipate those at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and those who supply energy modeling software and expertise will embrace the performance data of reflective thermal insulated coatings for use in determining heat loss and heat gain. The data should be available similar to equivalent cooling load temperature difference, or other equivalent factors used in the ASHRAE sol-air heat loss/heat gain calculation procedures. Sol-air temperature represents an outdoor temperature value that encompasses incident solar radiation, radiant energy exchange with the sky and outdoor environment and air-to-air temperature exchange (ASHRAE 26.3). Coatings that modify the thermal performance of any building envelope component are subject to those considerations.

While all of this is very exciting, I am most impressed with what I consider a brilliant idea that makes using paint and storing unused paint more sustainable. It is the invention of a new lid for paint cans that features a pour spout. Anyone who has ever fumbled with removing a paint can lid, spilled more paint than reached the paint tray, stepped on a paint can lid or tried to clean up where it landed (they always land wet paint down on an unprotected floor) will appreciate the thought and ingenuity that has gone into this new lid. The lid can be resealed, completely removed and recycled, according to the company.

Besides making painting more hassle free, the new lid can reduce waste, which is a basic tenant of packaging green products; and that is a very green thing.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Robert J. Kobet, AIA

Robert J. Kobet has enjoyed a dual career as an architect and educator. For more than 35 years Kobet practiced internationally in the fields of sustainable design and development, high-performance green buildings, LEED consulting and environmental education. He is currently enjoying a working retirement that includes a position as adjunct faculty in the Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design where he teaches a variety of courses based on sustainability and regenerative environmental stewardship. For more about Kobet, please visit www.bobkobet.com.

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Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects (AIA); Architects; Building design; Construction; Good Technical Practice; Green building; LEED; Schools; The Kobet Collaborative; Asia Pacific; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmentally friendly; Green chemistry; Green coatings; Latin America; North America; Paint recycling

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