In the construction industry, the word “sustainable” has a much less precise definition, and it is often used as a broad identification of a certain type of product, or practice. Furthermore, the term “sustainable” is not currently in the FTC Green Guides, and the EPA even says no product is truly sustainable - so the correct usage of the word is yet not clearly defined.
In reality, many terms are used in everyday speech which are not absolutely definitive, but are rather descriptions of a comparative nature. “Unbreakable glass” would surely not survive the effects of a black hole; a “non-stick” pan would be no defense against super glue; and a “heat resistant” pan would not demonstrate much resistance on the surface of the sun. Nonetheless, people use these terms in context, and with a general understanding of the limits of the claim.
For “sustainable materials” it is understood that all materials have an environmental impact (footprint) when they are formed, used and disposed of. The purpose of sustainability is to limit one, or all of these in comparison with alternative materials. While not truly “sustainable”, a “sustainable roof” might be made of slate rather than bituminized glass felt. The slate still needs to be quarried, processed, transported to the site, installed and, eventually disposed of. The sustainability claim, however, is that the slate has a lesser overall impact on the environment than does the bituminized glass felt.
ECOS’ products have been manufactured with the same sustainability goals. We do not use harmful ingredients commonly found in traditional paint, nor those identified as of concern in the Living Building Challenge Red List. We happily provide ingredients lists (Declare Labels) and have HPDs, so that consumers with specific chemical sensitivities can check to see that our product will be perfect for them. Over several years we have provided paint for evaluation by customers including The Atlanta Medical Center, Mary Black Hospital, and Southface, as well as paint for discerning customers such as Google, NRDC, Perkins + Will, and the Humane Society. Every one of these clients recognized and appreciated the health benefit of our products.
As a company, our intention is to provide our customers, their families, communities and environment with as good a product as we can. In a world in which “sustainable” can only ever be a goal, at ECOS we strive daily to try to make it a reality.