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Construction giant Bouygues inks three-year contract to use paint which it says tackles air pollution

Key Points
  • The way buildings are designed is changing, with concerns about sustainability influencing architects and construction firms. 
  • In the decades ahead, a raft of innovations could change the way buildings are designed and decorated. 

In this article

A mural in Rome which used Airlite paint.
Alberto Pizzoli | AFP | Getty Images

As concerns about air pollution and energy use mount, the way buildings are designed is changing.

Whether it's "green" roofs and walls covered in plants, or solar panels installed on rooftops, simple tweaks can often have a significant impact.

In the decades ahead, even the paint used to cover the facades and interiors of buildings could also have a role to play.

Earlier this week Bouygues Construction U.K. announced the signing of a "partnership agreement" with a firm that has developed paint it says can boost air quality and, among other things, eliminate "harmful germs and bacteria."

Bouygues said the paint — called Airlite and from the firm AM Technology Ltd — had been "trialled on an existing project where air quality was a key concern."

Urban pollution is a big issue that can have a real impact on people's health. According to the World Health Organization, it's estimated that air pollution kills 7 million people globally every single year.

As part of the trial, which took place across a one month timeframe, more than 86,000 readings were taken to analyze the effectiveness of the Airlite paint.

According to Bouygues U.K. the paint "significantly" cut nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds and the carbon dioxide footprint. In addition, "99.9% of bacteria on surfaces" was eliminated. The makers of the paint describe it as being "bacteria resistant," stating that a combination of high alkalinity and surface oxidation "prevent the bacteria from surviving."

Under the terms of the agreement — a "virtual signing" of a contract took place on June 12 — Airlite is to be a "partner of choice" for Bouygues U.K. for three years.

In practice this means that, where feasible, Bouygues U.K. will use Airlite paint on projects and developments in the U.K. during this time period.

In a statement issued Monday, Bouygues Construction U.K.'s Chair Fabienne Viala described Airlite as "a ground-breaking product which offers real innovation to significantly improve sustainable environmental performance and air quality."

A major player in the U.K. construction sector since 1997, Bouygues U.K. is involved in projects across a number of sectors including residential, health care and education. These include the delivery of developments such as a major proton beam therapy center for the University College London Hospital NHS Foundations Trust.