Even In Tough Times, the Industry Sticks to Its Priorities

With COVID-19, labor shortages and supply chain issues bearing down, this year could be an easy time to set aside any goal that doesn’t pertain to getting the job done. But the industry has proven that—even amid such challenges—companies aren’t backing away from their goals for preserving the environment. This year, [DWM]’s Annual Green Awards highlight the fact that sustainability can be addressed in many ways, big and small, and from a variety of angles. When it comes to “going green,” it’s the sum of the whole that matters.

Join us in applauding the following recipients.



In a category that’s primarily about such things as workload and durability, Combilift has found ways to focus on sustainability that make a difference through the design of its multidirectional forklifts and handling equipment. “All our material handling solutions have sustainability at their core,” the company declares. And a closer look at its latest achievements shows that’s more than just lip service.

At its core, Combilift designs machines with tight turning radiuses in order to reduce the amount of space and square footage companies need to operate. That, in turn, reduces energy usages for heating and lighting, officials say. Its latest models, new proprietary technologies, such as independently-powered and electronically commutated wheels, and a patented Eco-Steer system, allow for even tighter turns. Ultimately the goal is for customers to practice “sustainable warehousing,” officials suggest, adding, “If we can maximize our customers’ use of their warehouse space, we’re helping to minimize their carbon footprints,” by on average 80 tons per year, they report.

But that’s not all. Combilift has also turned to electricity as the main power source for its forklifts. CEO and co-founder Martin McVicar expects to ship more than 20,000 vehicles in 2021. Meanwhile, 60% of its offerings are fully electric. “We made our first electric C-Series over 18 years ago, and now over 60% of the trucks we manufacture are electric, with availability in almost
all models across our range,” McVicar says. “As more and more of our customers are opting for electric power it is obvious that they are as committed to sustainability and a circular economy as we are.” Among the batteries used in the company’s forklifts, 90% are recycled. Of the materials used in assembly, 95% are recyclable. The company also switched to water-based paints, dramatically reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Combilift also aims to reduce its air freight by stationing 300 dealers across 85 countries, officials say. At its main facility in Ireland, 30% of roof space includes skylights, and LED lighting is equipped with controls that dim according to the availability of daylight, shutting off automatically. The company also uses solar arrays to cover 10% of its overall energy usage and a
110,000-liter rainwater collection system.

The next phase? McVicar announced in recent weeks that in 2022 Combilift will “go autonomous,” giving its vehicles the ability to operate without human input. What that means for efficiency, we’re anxious to find out.



Kolbe Windows and Doors

Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) developed a voluntary Verified Window Performance Data Program to make information readily available to builders and architects. The program verifies data for windows and their components, setting its recommendations for window performance at a range of 0.11 to 0.22 for U-values (according to climate zone), making it one of the high-water marks for energy performance. With 23 products on the list, Kolbe has more models in the PHIUS database than any other manufacturer. Started in 1946 by a two-brother team and now in its 75th year, the company isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to energy efficiency.


Honorable Mention

All Weather Windows

In addition to producing energy efficient products (a standard among most door and window companies these days), All Weather Windows goes farther in its quest to recycle and operate as efficiently as possible. “Our green initiatives go well beyond just building energy efficient products—we also maintain a conservation strategy,” officials say.

According to its sustainability info, the company recycles most scrap and manufacturing by-products, including more than 2,000 lbs. of PVC daily, as well as glass, cardboard, plastics and aluminum. Officials say they recover 100% of PVC waste created during manufacturing.

All Weather Windows also relies on LEAN manufacturing processes to increase efficiencies in its operations and to reduce energy consumption. They participate in numerous partnerships and movements, including Canada Green Building Council, Canadian Home Builders’ Association and Built Green Canada.


YKK AP America

In August of this year, YKK AP America made a bold statement about its focus on the environment by appointing its first ever chief sustainability officer (CSO): Tomohisa Kato. The move, officials say, is one of many that reflect a recently announced “global statement of purpose,” which calls on all YKK AP operating companies around the world, stating, “We Build a Better Society through Architectural Products.”

As CSO, Kato oversees the company’s sustainability strategy, focusing on advancing and accelerating efforts in North America to promote sustainability in business and corporate practices. “The environmental issues we face are common to all of us, and I am proud to contribute my time and energy toward securing a more sustainable future,” Kato says.

In 2009, officials say the company was the first manufacturer to produce products designed “specifically to address energy needs,” and in 2015 it became the first facades manufacturer to voluntarily provide third party-certified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for all of its products. The company recently was recognized by the Georgia Water Coalition with the Clean 13 Award, recognizing those with initiatives that have “led to a more sustainable future for Georgians.”

Reduce and Reuse

Cascade Windows

When it comes to making an overall impact, Cascade checks a lot of boxes. The company is focused on reducing its carbon footprint, stating, “As the corporate climate evolves we wanted to be part of the solution and take a proactive approach.”

Cascade’s facilities recycle 100% of production materials, including glass—all of which is shipped to a local facility for repurposing. For each ton of recycled glass, the company says over a ton of natural resources are preserved. Further, a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are prevented for every six tons of recycled container glass. Vinyl is sent to recycling facilities, where it is either ground and melted or dissolved and reconstituted for use in new products.

The company also hangs its hat on using recycled aluminum, which officials say saves 95% of the energy required to make the same amount from virgin sources. One ton of recycled aluminum saves 14,000 kilowatt hours of energy, they say, as well as preserves 40 barrels of oil and 10 cubic yards of landfill space. The company insists on soy-based inks for its marketing materials, which it says requires less ink overall while coming from a renewable resource.



When it comes to conserving and reusing materials, Milgard finds a use for just about everything. Among materials, 97% of scrap vinyl from the company’s manufacturing is placed in a “clean waste stream,” officials say, which is recycled for use in additional window frames. The remaining 3% is reused in a variety of products, including things such as garden hoses. On average, the company’s vinyl windows utilize 10-15% recycled content and its fiberglass pultrusion process facility earned ISO 14001 certification, a standard that’s attributed to lower energy usage, waste reduction and increased recycling. Overall, officials say the company’s glass waste has decreased to nearly a third of the amount it produced in 2004.



Nippon Sheet Glass Co.

“Glass making is an energy-intensive process,” say officials for Nippon Sheet Glass Co. (NSG). “Significant energy is consumed in melting the raw materials at a very high temperature for the manufacture of glass,” they add. But that hasn’t stopped the company from setting excuses aside to pursue every opportunity for adding efficiency.

By 2030, NSG aims to reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from production processes by 21% compared to 2018 levels. By 2024, the company is working to post an 8% reduction in CO2 intensity across its glass manufacturing operations, compared to 2018 levels, and to reduce landfill waste by 20%, compared to 2020 levels.

So far as how the company will get there, with more than two dozen sites currently enrolled in a pilot program, each location is tasked with at least one initiative for delivering reductions to energy consumption, CO2 emissions and cost savings. Examples include furnace fuel combustion optimization, installing more efficient electrical motors, use of energy efficient lighting, fuel switching and cogeneration processes, and installation of waste heat and energy recovery systems. Self-awareness campaigns for employees also center on “shut offs” to conserve energy. At the company’s technical center in Lathom, an on-site photovoltaic facility now provides 30% of the site’s annual electricity demand.

The company has been an active participant in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) since January 2012.

In September, the company announced it successfully manufactured architectural glass at its facility in the UK, using hydrogen power. The trial is part of the “HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching” project conducted at the Greengate site of Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, a group company, in St. Helens.




With 14 Energy Star Partner of the Year Awards under its belt, ProVia is well known for its energy efficient products. But the Sugar Creek, Ohio-based door and window manufacturer is also involved in environmentally-focused initiatives—including the installation of what’s now among the largest privately-owned solar arrays in Ohio.

Officials say a new 4,480 panel, 1.8-megawatt solar array at its Cherry Ridge manufacturing facility is projected to reduce electrical power consumption by 60% annually.

The company partnered with Paradise Energy Solutions to construct the array, which is estimated to prevent emission of 1,472 tons of CO2 each year.

“As we investigated this project, we determined that we could successfully balance a socially responsible choice with economic feasibility, which made solar an excellent solution,” said Larry Troyer, the company’s chief financial officer. “This is a long-term investment that’s good for our company and good for the environment.”

ProVia also has solar installations in place at its Baltic and Walnut Creek facilities.


Special Mention Products

AmesburyTruth – E-Lon Environmentally Friendly Door Seals

In the environmental movement, sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. This year, [DWM]’s editors found an environmentally-friendly component in a place that’s easy to overlook: door seals.

In a category that’s typically focused on durability and performance and an industry that’s known for being skeptical of recycled materials (i.e. reclaimed vinyl), we consider AmesburyTruth’s decision to develop and market environmentally-friendly door seals a bold move. While the product’s closed-cell foam, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) construction isn’t particularly unique (TPEs are widely used throughout the industry), the company’s efforts to raise awareness and shed a green light on door seals is worth noting. E-Lon seals promise the same performance offered with the company’s decades-old Foam-Tite material, while eliminating hazardous materials and offering 100% recyclability. The product offers all of the features you expect—rigid kerf, corner welding capabilities and 50% compression—but presents an eco-friendly option.


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DWM Magazine

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