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Michiel Brouns, a natural paints expert and CEO of Leeds-based linseed paint manufacturer Brouns & Co, is collaborating with the National Park Service of America to help ensure the buildings and other structures across the 424 National Park sites in their care are maintained sustainably.
In the first transatlantic collaboration of its kind, Brouns, a leading expert on property restoration and sustainability, delivered a workshop on the use of linseed paint, which is ideal for maintaining the wooden and metal elements of any building. Attended by materials conservators, historical architects and preservation craftsmen from the National Park Service’s Historical Architecture, Conservation and Engineering Centre, the event took place in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Michiel Brouns said: “The National Park Service cares for thousands of important properties within its portfolio, along with gates, fences; wooden, iron or steel bridges, and linseed paint, a centuries-old, natural way to protect timber, metal and plaster from exposure to the elements, will help to preserve them for future generations.”
US demand for the Brouns & Co’s environmentally sustainable products is growing exponentially, with orders to the States increasing by more than 120% over the past 12 months. A series of landmark restoration projects in the US have recently been completed using the firm’s linseed paint, in New England, Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia.
“It’s vital to spread the word about this sustainable replacement for plastic-based paints,” said Mr Brouns. “I now visit the US regularly to deliver workshops to key groups such as this one from the National Park Service, they hold the key to us making the switch to all-natural linseed paint, with no plastics or VOCs, on a large scale.
“The team from the National Park Service were super enthusiastic and, having tried and tested linseed oil paint in Wyoming in the past, we showed them how to use it on timber, steel, copper, brick and a puttied window frame.”
Jack Glassman, historical architect and project specialist at the National Park Service, said: “Michiel’s presentation about the past and present use of linseed oil paints was informative and compelling and we had a hands-on opportunity to apply linseed oil finishes to samples of unfinished and previously painted wood and sheet metal.
“He explained the production process and the environmental benefits and delineated the various architectural applications for linseed oil paints. The long-term performance, spanning centuries in some cases, and many benefits of linseed oil products, was impressive.”
Brouns & Co’s work with the National Park Service follows a programme of continuing professional development (CPD) events which Michiel Brouns delivered last year on the role of linseed paint in reducing the environmental impact of building design and renovation in the US. The CPD events, in partnership with the US chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects in New York and Boston were in collaboration with the British Consulate in Boston, and the Department for Business and Trade in the US.