Armstrong senior research scientists in green chemistry will be speaking at the 16th annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, June 18th to 20th, in Washington D.C., focusing on the many different types of coatings used on building materials – everything from floors to ceilings – and how they could be improved upon and made greener.

Senior Research Scientists Mary Kate Davies, Armstrong Floor Products, and Gourish Sirdeshpande, Armstrong Building Products [Commercial Ceilings], will be among the experts discussing the “Green Chemistry of Building Materials.”

“Increased consumer awareness of health and environmental hazards has led to a greater need for homes, offices, schools and retail locations that are built with ‘greener’ materials. The explosion of certifications available for green building products is testament to the demand for more environmentally-friendly options,” says Davies. The session will cover the chemistry and engineering that contributes to technologies and products in greener building materials; Davies’ talk will focus on the “Improvements in High Performance Coatings.”

Armstrong uses coatings in many of its products, including vinyl sheet and tile, wood flooring and linoleum. “Coating development is customer-driven: Our customers want a product that looks good and is easy to maintain. However, different coatings need to be developed for different markets and products, because customers have varying ideas on what ‘looks good’ and what performance attributes are most important to them,” explains Davies. “For example, in a grocery store, a shiny floor is equated with being clean. But the same shiny floor in a hospital may be disorienting to a patient.”

Floor coatings can be applied in various forms: as a solvent-based coating, as a water-based coating, or as a 100% solids UV cure coating. The earliest coatings were solvent-based. As manufacturers choose water-based coatings in place of solvent-based coatings, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are dramatically reduced from being released into the atmosphere. According to Davies, an improved environmental profile is realized as manufacturers choose 100% solids UV coatings. “These coatings have significantly lower energy demands in curing and transportation. These coatings greatly reduce waste, as well. Unlike solvent- or water-based coatings, all the material used in a 100% solids coating becomes part of the final product,” she says.

The Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference includes speakers from around the world and in multiple disciplines including chemists, engineers, researchers, policy analysts, managers/directors, venture capitalists, chemistry and engineering students.