Over the last several years, it has become more and more clear to me that sustainability is not just a buzz word. I admit that at first I thought it might just be a new word to replace “green”. And perhaps at first that's what it was for some companies – a new twist on environmentally friendly technology. However, as I read and edit the technical articles submitted to our magazine and visit with customers at trade shows, I can see how the word sustainability has evolved into so much more than just “green”. It is interesting to see how different companies have embraced the idea of sustainability and how they choose to define it for their products and processes.

I write this Editor’s Viewpoint from the European Coatings Show, where I have just come from the opening session of the Congress. Attendees were asked to participate in an interactive poll using a remote control device. Several questions were asked pertaining to future technologies, regulations and sustainability, and the results were shown immediately to the audience. When asked what role sustainability plays in our industry, 63 percent responded that it is important, and 27 percent indicated that it is indispensible. Only 10 percent said that it is not really important. And when asked if they are in favor of the development of a consistent, industry agreed-upon methodology for measuring sustainability, 80 percent of respondents said “yes.”

Both keynote speakers at the Congress addressed sustainability – one from an architectural standpoint and the other from industrial. Both mentioned that sustainability is more than just meeting environmental regulations and reducing your carbon footprint. It means providing higher quality and increased functionality, lowering process costs and increasing productivity, and helping your customers and their customers be more efficient with their resources, energy and costs.

The coatings industry has embraced sustainability, and companies are finding new ways to define it as the effects reach down the value chain. It will be interesting to see if a methodology to measure it will be developed, and how this will happen. I am curious what others in our industry think. Feel free to add your comments on our website where my Viewpoint is posted.