The Coatings Trends & Technologies (CTT) conference, a technical symposium that is a partnership between PCI Magazine and the Chicago Society for Coatings Technology and Symco, was held October 5-6 in Lombard, IL. The event was a huge success on every level, with 213 attendees and 42 sponsors – an increase of more than 300 percent from 2009. A total of 30 papers were presented along two different tracks, and attendees had multiple opportunities to visit the 41 tabletop exhibits.

Diana Strongosky, Vice President of Research and Development at Sherwin Williams, delivered the keynote address. Her address, titled Going Green Beyond Waterborne Coatings, focused on the need for each company to decide what “going green” means to them. Sherwin Williams’ focus on sustainability is called Ecovision and incorporates the drive toward “going green” into five key areas:

• Conserve (natural resources);

• Innovate (develop new and sustainable products, technologies and processes that are good for the environment);

• Respect (for different cultures and communities);

• Responsible (everyone is responsible for sustainability at SW);

• Improve (measure what the company does/continuously improve).

Using Ecovision as her basis, Diana explained how companies can “go green” beyond just creating “green” products. Companies need to position themselves now for sustainability on all levels, from products, to processes, to application and services.

Companies should consider using bio-based raw materials. As petroleum-based materials continue to increase in cost, bio-based raw materials are renewable and sustainable. Strongosky pointed out that future coatings may even need to contain a percentage of materials from sustainable sources.

Health and safety can also be “green”. Not only can companies continue to work to create coatings that have low to no VOCs, they can produce the coatings in a safer manner and design them to be safer during use.

Time and labor savings also improve sustainability. Companies can strive to create products with enhanced durability that can reach their full potential with just one coat, or develop smart coatings that are self-healing or self-cleaning.

And companies should strive to develop their products with energy efficiency in mind. Minimize energy consumption, reduce your carbon footprint and the footprint of your products. Recycle and use recycled products. Essentially, companies need to consider the economics, the environment and society when thinking about sustainability.

In addition to Diana’s timely and thought-provoking comments, there was a lot of good, new technology presented throughout the one-and-a-half day conference. PCI hopes to publish some of the technical papers that were presented at CTT throughout the coming year.

Plans are already underway for next year’s CTT conference, which will be expanded to accommodate more attendees and exhibitors. Keep an eye out for e-mails and advertisements promoting this event, as we expect it to sell out as this year’s conference did.