Green Seal 11


Green Seal 11 is a certification standard that ensures paints, coatings, stains, and sealers are safe for human health and the environment. It uses scientifically validated testing methods to set limits and meets ASTM requirements for product competence.1


GS-11’s climate preservation goals include:

  • content limits on volatile organic compounds,
  • prohibition on ozone-depleting compounds and halogenated solvents,
  • and an emphasis on recyclable packaging for adequate end-of-life management.4

GS-11 Edition 4.0 Standard Snapshot further explains the restrictions organized by their corresponding goals.


A recent GS-11 update provides takeaways for reducing VOCs and improving indoor air quality:3

  • VOC content limits – Improve VOC content limits to comply with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). It is important to limit VOCs to reduce the development of photochemical ozone and smog, which can cause respiratory issues.
  • VOC emission testing – Align with the state of California’s Department of Public Health Standard Method for required VOC emission testing. Emission testing provides reassurance of a low level of off-gassing after applying a product like paint.

GS-11 is the only standard in its product category to restrict certain chemicals such as carcinogens, reproductive toxins, hazardous air pollutants, alkylphenol, ethoxylated, etc. The VOC content limits help decrease the chances of releasing emissions that create ground-level ozone and smog-like conditions.


GS-11 has led to manufacturing investments and innovations that have resulted in a healthier supply chain for these products. In 2020, paints and coatings meeting GS-11’s standards prevented more than half a million pounds of VOC pollution across 120 million square feet of LEED-certified building space.3 GS-11’s alignment with LEED v.41 simplifies the choice for buyers seeking LEED-compliant paints.5



Apply the following GS-11 considerations when utilizing paints, coats, and adhesives:


  • Spec GS-11 Certified products when using products under the GS-11 scope.
  • List GS-11 VOC limits as a standard in your specifications.
  • Refer to the Green Seal’s certified products and services directory page for a list of paints, coatings, and adhesives.6
  • Prefer lighter-colored paints that can decrease the risk of choosing paints that include colorants as part of their VOC limits.11
  • Refer to the GS-11 Paints, Coatings, Stains, and Sealers standard for more information on VOC limits for related products.2