Oregon State University

Facilities Services

Paint Shop

OSU Paint Shop Moves Toward Sustainability

Start Date: December, 2004; primary phase completed March, 2005

With financial support from industry partner Miller Paint Co., the OSU Paint Shop and Oregon Natural Step Network completed a Natural Step (TNS) back-casting exercise to provide specific long-term planning and identify and rank short-term actions. Many steps had already been taken to reduce the Shop’s environmental impact. The TNS process adds cohesion and speed to existing efforts, and provides an overall framework to move toward sustainability.

Using process flowcharts that map inputs and outputs for services like interior and exterior painting, the Shop crew identified TNS System Condition violations. They next created a ranking of the violations, and elected 1-, 5-, and 10-year goals. “Low hanging fruit” is identified and prioritized, and several changes have already taken place.


Benefits: Members of the small Paint Shop crew now have a greater understanding of sustainability and TNS, and have a detailed working knowledge of areas of particular relevance to their daily operations. Actions include:

  • Develop a color selection program to minimize paint inventoried and wasted
  • Reduce Shop electricity, water and steam use (specific targets now being set)
  • Measure, capture and treat Shop wastewater
  • Develop with Miller Paint a closed loop paint container exchange
  • Add recycling center in the Paint Shop, and monitor outgoing solid waste
  • Phase out gasoline vans in favor of diesel vans running biodiesel, and use bicycles

View an expanded To Do list, with several completed items on page two.

The knowledge and experience provided by this process will enable the crew to identify and proactively address barriers to sustainability as they arise. In an increasingly environmentally and socially aware marketplace, job security for the painters is also increased.



Brandon Trelstad, Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Charles Vail, Paint Shop Manager Charles.Vail@oregonstate.edu


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