MPI / MPI Approved Products List (APL) / Environmental Performance

Green History:

HIstorically, the world of paints and coatings has not always been an environmentally friendly one.

Some paints contained the toxic metal cadmium, others contained arsenic in pigments, and the historical use of lead in paint is a well-known fact.

Green Today:

Even today, products can contain compounds or materials that can adversely affect our environment by releasing solvents or other toxic elements at various stages of the product life cycle.  
However, changes in both the paint and coatings industry, and an increase in public awareness around these effects have led to significant reductions in these areas already.  

Toxic metals are near non-existent in coatings, and the developments of both non-aromatic solvent-based paints and water-based coatings have led to significant reductions and even elimination of VOCs.

MPI’s Green Performance Standards:

MPI established the Green Performance Standards in 2005 because of concerns that the existing environmental requirements set by the EPA, SCAQMD, OTC, etc. (as well as voluntary organizations like LEED) were only based on VOC levels.

MPI believes that performance and durability are critical to true sustainability as premature failure and subsequent frequent repainting inevitably lead to greater VOC emissions and non-sustainable and costly maintenance operations.
MPI’s Green Performance™ Standards were established to challenge the thinking that VOC level alone should determine a 'green' coating, so paints certified to MPI's Green Performance Standard:

  • Provide performance and durability equal to their conventional counterparts through the base standard’s testing.
  • Have eliminated or contain only trace quantities of various undesirable chemical components such as phthalates, benzene, vinyl chloride, and formaldehyde.
  • Have reduced VOC levels.
    • MPI GPS-1 sets VOC levels generally in line with LEED and SCAQMD requirements.
    • MPI's GPS-2, which was the most stringent in North America when introduced in 2007, has a maximum allowable VOC of 50 g/l across the board for all eligible coatings.

MPI's Green Performance™ Standards are the only green paint/coatings certification required by both the US and Canadian governments, and referenced by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

MPI’s Green Performance Standards

MPI’s Extreme Green™ Paint Standards

MPI offers the Extreme Green™ (“X-Green”) standards, which incorporate MPI’s Green Performance Standards (GPS). Designed to simplify the process of selecting environmentally friendly products for interior spaces, the X-Green categories are subcategories of existing standards used across the architectural world.

All products on the X-Green lists will have passed all the performance testing for the base standards as well as meeting the following guidelines:

  1. Adherence to GPS -1’s prohibited chemical components list, which includes IARC - Group 1 Carcinogens
  2. GPS-2’s limit of 50 grams per liter of VOC’s
  3. Third-party verification that the product meets the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) emissions requirements, dating from within the last two years

These requirements, including the base standard the product is tested for, encompass the three requirements for a truly green paint: indoor air quality, environmental safety, and the performance necessary to promote sustainable building practices.

MPI’s Extreme Green™ Paint Standards

MPI Green Performance Standards: Chemical Component Restrictions

The MPI Green Performance®Standard requires that the manufacturer shall demonstrate that the following chemical compounds are not used as ingredients in the manufacture of the product: [Trace elements (max. 5 ppm) as a by-product are excluded.]

MPI Green Performance Standard’s Prohibited Compounds


Diethyl phthalate


Methylene Chloride


Dimethyl phthalate

Hexavalent Chromium



Di-n-butyl phthalate


Toluene (Methylbenzene)


Di-n-octyl phthalate


1,1,1 –trichloroethane


1,2 –dichlorobenzene


Vinyl Chloride

Butyl benzyl phthalate

Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

Methyl ethyl ketone




Methyl isobutyl ketone


IARC – Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans [excluding crystalline silica, not in the form of quartz or cristobalite dust].

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Requirements

Category Description

MPI Categories

Max Allowable VOCs




Interior Flat Intermediate/Top Coats

49, 53, 55, 118, 133, 143, 165

50 g/L

50 g/L

Interior Non-Flat Intermediate/Top Coats

43,44,47,48,51,52, 54, 89,114, 131,138 to 141, 144 to 148, 151, 153,154, 155, 157, 158, 166, 167, 168, 169, 225, 226


50 g/L

Exterior Flat Intermediate/Top Coats

8, 10, 42,113

100 g/L

50 g/L

Exterior Non-Flat Intermediate/Top Coats

9, 11, 15, 38, 40, 41, 94, 119, 161, 163, 164, 213, 214, 311, 315


50 g/L

Special Purpose

Clear Varnishes

28,29,30,56, 57, 73, 74, 75, 128,129,130, 181, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197

350 g/L


Clear Sanding Sealers

84, 102

350 g/L


Clear Lacquer    

85, 86, 87

550 g/L


Fire Retardant coatings – Pigmented

63, 64, 67, 126

350 g/L


Fire Retardant coatings – Clear

62, 65, 66, 109, 111

650 g/L


Floor Coatings

27, 58, 59, 60, 68, 127



Hi Temperature Coatings

2, 21, 22

420 g/L


Industrial Maintenance Coatings   

31, 35, 71, 72, 77, 78, 82, 83, 98, 101, 105, 108, 115, 174, 177, 201,202, 203, 215, 301

340 g/L


Metallic Pigmented Coatings


500 g/L


Multi-Color Coatings

112, 121

250 g/L


Pigmented Lacquer

24, 122, 123, 124

550 g/L


Pretreatment Wash Primers

25, 80

420 g/L


Primers & Undercoaters

4, 5, 6, 17, 39, 45, 46, 50, 61, 69, 91, 116, 125, 134, 149, 172

200 g/L


Quick Dry Enamels

81, 96

250 g/L


Recycled Coatings            

10RC, 10RR, 11RR, 11RC,15RC, 15RR, 44RC, 44RC, 53RC, 53RR, 54RC, 54RR

150 g/L


Rust Preventative Coatings

23, 26, 76, 79, 95, 107, 135, 173, 275           

400 g/L


Shellac – Clear  


730 g/L


Specialty Primers

3,5,7,36,136,137, 223

350 g/L



13, 14, 16, 33, 90, 92,156,186

250 g/L


Traffic Coating

32, 70, 97            

150 g/L


Waterproofing Concrete/Masonry Sealers

34, 99, 104,117  

400 g/L


Zinc Rich Primers             

18, 19, 20, 200

340 g/L


Green Legend and GPS Definitions


The EPR is a rating calculated by MPI based on both the E-Range above and the performance of the product to gauge its Ozone Forming Potential (OFP). For example, a product with lower VOC that requires extra coats, or frequent recoating can have an outsized VOC impact despite the low rating of the product itself. This is usually tied at least in part to the gloss level, as a coating’s durability and serviceability tends to increase with gloss.


Each category has at the top a list of VOC ranges. These are used to give products an “E-Range” rating, with E3 having the lowest VOC content, and E1 the highest acceptable, with E0 being either outside the range, or unavailable. These ranges are based on a variety of jurisdictions, including the EPA, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, U.S. Green Building Council, and the Canadian Environmental choice program.


A checkmark in the RG column means the category is compliant with either the Ozone Transport Commission’s (OTC) Model Rule 2010-11, which establishes VOC limits for products based on the OTC’s categorization, or is compliant with Environment Canada’s (EC) VOC limits for architectural coatings (SOR/2009-264)


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is part of the U.S. Green Building Council, and is currently called LEED v4.1. The relevant portion of the LEED v4.1 standard references the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1113 for VOC limits. A check mark here means the product meets those requirements.

GPS-1 and GPS-2:

A checkmark (or leaf) here signifies that the product meets MPI’s Green Performance Standard, either level 1 or 2. To meet MPI’s GPS-1/-2 requires that the product not exceed a specified VOC level, not contain any components on the GPS’s Restricted Component List. Please note that GPS-2 is not available for all categories.

GPS Definitions

For the purpose of MPI’s Green Performance Standard, the following definitions shall apply:

ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS are any coatings applied to stationary structures and their appurtenances, to mobile homes, to pavements, or to curbs.

COATINGS are materials applied to a surface in order to beautify, protect, or provide a barrier to such a surface.

FLAT COATINGS are coatings that register a gloss of less than 5 on a 60-degree meter and less than 10 on an 85-degree meter.

INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE COATINGS are coatings, including primers, sealers, undercoats, and intermediate coatings and topcoats, that are formulated for or applied to substrates, including floors, that are exposed to one or more of the following extreme environmental conditions:

  • immersion in water, wastewater, or chemical solutions (aqueous and non-aqueous solutions), or chronic exposure of interior surfaces to moisture condensation;
  • acute or chronic exposure to corrosive, caustic or acidic agents, or similar chemicals, chemical fumes, chemical mixtures, or solutions;
  • repeated exposure to temperatures in excess of 250 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • repeated heavy abrasion, including mechanical wear and repeated scrubbing with industrial solvents, cleaners, or scouring agents; or
  • exterior exposure of metal structures.

NONFLAT COATINGS are coatings that register a gloss greater than 5 on a 60 degree meter and a gloss of 10 or greater on an 85 degree meter.

CLEAR WOOD FINISHES are clear and semi-transparent coatings, including lacquers and varnishes, applied to wood substrates to provide a transparent or translucent solid film.

DRY-FOG COATINGS are coatings which are formulated only for spray application so that when sprayed, overspray droplets dry before falling on floors and other surfaces.

FIRE-RETARDANT COATINGS are coatings labeled and formulated to retard ignition and flame spread, that has been fire tested and rated by a testing agency approved by building code officials for use in bringing building and construction materials into compliance with federal, state and local building code requirements. The fire-retardant coating shall be tested in accordance with ASTM Test Method E 84-99, incorporated by reference in paragraph (e)(4) or listed by Underwriter's Laboratories, Inc. as fire-retardant coatings with a flame spread index of less than 25.

FLOOR COATINGS are opaque coatings that are formulated for or applied to flooring, including (but not limited to) decks, porches, gymnasiums, and bowling alleys, but do not include Industrial Maintenance Coatings.

HIGH-TEMPERATURE INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE COATINGS are industrial maintenance coatings formulated for or applied to substrates exposed continuously or intermittently to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Centigrade).

LACQUERS are clear or pigmented finishes, including lacquer sanding sealers, formulated with nitrocellulose or synthetic resins to dry by evaporation without chemical reaction. The dried film can be re-dissolved by the original solvent.

METALLIC PIGMENTED COATINGS are coatings, excluding roof coatings, containing at least 0.4 pounds per gallon (48 grams/liter) of coating, as applied, of elemental metallic pigment (excluding zinc), mica particles or any combination of metallic pigments and mica particles.

MULTI-COLOR COATINGS are coatings which exhibit more than one color when applied and which are packaged in a single container and applied in a single coat.

PRE-TREATMENT WASH PRIMERS are coatings which contain a minimum of 1/2 percent acid, by weight, applied directly to bare metal surfaces to provide necessary surface etching.

PRIMERS are coatings applied to a surface to provide a firm bond between the substrate and subsequent coats.

QUICK-DRY ENAMELS are non-flat coatings which comply with the following:

(A) Shall be capable of being applied directly from the container by brush or roller under normal conditions, normal conditions being ambient temperatures between 60°F and 80°F;
(B) When tested in accordance with ASTM D 1640 they shall: set-to touch in two hours or less, dry-hard in eight hours or less, and be tack-free in four hours or less by the mechanical test method.

QUICK-DRY PRIMERS, SEALERS, AND UNDERCOATERS are primers, sealers, and undercoaters which are intended to be applied to a surface to provide a firm bond between the substrate and subsequent coats and which are dry-to-touch in one-half hour and can be recoated in two hours (ASTM D 1640).

RECYCLED COATINGS are coatings formulated such that 50 percent or more of the total weight consists of secondary and post-consumer coatings and 10 percent or more of the total weight consists of post-consumer coatings, and manufactured by a certified recycled paint manufacturer.

RUST PREVENTATIVE COATINGS are coatings formulated for use in preventing the corrosion of metal surfaces in residential and commercial situations.

SANDING SEALERS are clear wood coatings formulated for or applied to bare wood for sanding and to seal the wood for subsequent application of coatings. To be considered a sanding sealer a coating must be clearly labeled as such.

SEALERS are coatings applied to either block materials from penetrating into or leaching out of a substrate, to prevent subsequent coatings from being absorbed by the substrate, or to prevent harm to subsequent coatings by materials in the substrate.

SHELLACS are clear or pigmented coatings formulated solely with the resinous secretions of the lac beetle (laccifer lacca), thinned with alcohol, and formulated to dry by evaporation without a chemical reaction.

SPECIALTY PRIMERS are coatings formulated for or applied to a substrate to block stains, odors or efflorescence; to seal fire, smoke or water damage; to condition excessively chalky surfaces; to block stains such as from woods prone to extractive.bleeding; or recommended for application to highly alkaline concrete, plaster, and other cementitious surfaces. An excessively chalky surface is one that is defined as having chalk rating of four or less as determined by ASTM D-4214 – Photographic Reference Standard #1 or the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology “Pictorial Standards for Coatings Defects”.

STAINS are opaque or semi-transparent coatings that are formulated to change the color but not conceal the grain pattern or texture.

TRAFFIC COATINGS are coatings formulated for or applied to public streets, highways, and other surfaces including, but not limited to, curbs, berms, driveways, and parking lots.

UNDERCOATERS are coatings formulated for or applied to substrates to provide a smooth surface for subsequent coats.

VARNISHES are clear wood finishes formulated with various resins to dry by chemical reaction.

WATERPROOFING CONCRETE/MASONRY SEALERS are clear or pigmented sealers that are formulated for sealing concrete and masonry to provide resistance against water, alkalis, acids, ultraviolet light, and staining.

ZINC-RICH INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE PRIMERS are primers formulated to contain a minimum of 65 percent metallic zinc powder (zinc dust) by weight of total solids for application to metal substrates.