Annual Green Awards July/August 2022July 28th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs
Amid Tough Conditions, the Industry Remains Full of Ambition
Despite the state of upheaval in recent years, the world’s commitment to green building is unwavering.¹ Among the leading drivers are social and economic factors, including a push for green products as well as sustainable business practices. Since 2018, there’s been a significant uptick for those who are interested in “doing the right thing,” researchers suggest, including manufacturers, customers and investors.
“The past year put our individual and collective resilience to the test,” says Sylvie Nicol, executive vice president of human resources and chairperson of Henkel’s Sustainability Council. “Certainly, 2021 did not draw us out of the COVID-19 pandemic as we had hoped: our economy and communities unfortunately continue to struggle with the outbreak’s lingering impacts.” At the same time, “Our mission to tackle environmental, social, and political challenges has therefore never been clearer,” she adds.
This determination is echoed by leaders throughout the door, window and related industries—many of whom have stepped up with ambitious environmental declarations. Join us in celebrating some of the industry’s best examples.
Products: TruStile Eco-Friendly Doors
While plenty of door and window products contain recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, it isn’t every day that you see a mainstream manufacturer going out of its way to promote the use of medium density fiberboard (MDF) produced from recycled content. TruStile hangs its reputation on MDF doors by using only fine-grade, super-refined MDF, while backing its doors with lifetime warranties against defects in workmanship and materials.
TruStile’s new MDF doors are third-party certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) to include a minimum of 69% recycled content. (MDF is comprised of recycled post-industrial wood products.) Materials such as sawdust, wood shavings and hog wood are broken down into cellulose fibers, which are further processed to remove impurities, before mixing with resin and being compressed into sheets. Finished doors then are manufactured using low-emitting adhesives and primer. A no-added formaldehyde option is also available with no urea-formaldehyde resin.
Not only is this beneficial for the environment, but the company’s doors also contribute to LEED credits under the Materials and Resources category.
According to the company’s environmental reporting, TruStile also recycles waste to minimize its impact on landfills. The majority of its waste is ground into wood chips that are donated to agricultural partners, where they’re used to create energy. According to company officials, this process has reduced TruStile’s landfill waste by 65%, while also reducing the amount of material that needs to be picked up and transported.
Commitment: Crystal Window & Door Systems
Crystal Window & Door Systems stepped up in recent months to help New York meet reduction targets for greenhouse gas emission. The company installed a full, 2,320-panel rooftop solar system at its main production facility, which is estimated to supply nearly one million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—meeting approximately 35% of the manufacturer’s total electrical needs. The project took several months to design and build, including a full roof renovation and 18 electrical inverters, but with more than 100,000 square feet of unshaded rooftop space, the move was a no brainer says Crystal Windows chairperson and founder, Thomas Chen.
“This was a great decision for our operations, a great way to help New York City and New York State achieve their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and a great way to make the environment greener for everyone,” Chen says.
The company also utilizes hydro power. The end result includes a reduction of more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year, which is roughly equal to the output of 154 passenger cars.
Kudos: Quanex Corp.
Quanex Corp. has made steady progress toward environmental goals over the years, recently reporting that it now recycles more than 90% of generated scrap. Installation of new equipment also generates significant energy savings, officials say, including nearly 1,500,000 kilowatt-hours annually.
“That’s as much as is needed to power nearly 1,400 homes,” says Larry Robinson, vice president, operations.
As a leading manufacturer of plastic films and related products, Renolit isn’t shying away from the detrimental impacts that plastics can have on the environment. Instead, the company acknowledges the threat that plastics pose in its environmental statements, suggesting, “the growing volume of plastic products worldwide that are disposed of as ‘waste’ after their often short-lived use has become a threat to people, their environment and the climate.”
By 2021, “the Earth will be about 178% ‘overused,’ which means we will need 1.78 planets to meet our resource consumption needs,” the company’s environmental statements suggest. Alternatively, a “circular economy has the potential to reduce the global consumption of raw materials by 28% and greenhouse gas emissions by 39%,” officials add.
Renolit offers a range of polymer products that are 100% recyclable or are made partly from renewable raw materials. But in its 75th year, the independent, family-owned company committed to going much farther in its efforts, declaring, “As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality plastic products, we feel a special commitment to the topic of sustainability and are aware of our responsibility to both human beings and the environment.”
In 2020, Renolit’s internal recycling rate was around 54%, but, as part of the “Renolit Goes Circular” initiative, between now and 2025 the company aims to boost its recycling to 100% of plastic waste. By that time, 50% of its packaging will be made of recycled materials or renewable resources.
Three new plants will be added to expand the production of recyclable material such as flakes, re-granulate and powder at its recycling center in Worms, Germany. To help eliminate microplastics from the environment, Renolit is also participating in Operation Clean Sweep—an international granule loss prevention program.
In a strategic partnership with Photanol, the company is also working on the “Air” project to develop non-fossil polymers using CO2 absorbed from the air.
From 2019 to 2020 the company made a significant leap in direct CO2 emmmsions, posting a 12.1% reduction.
Impact: Accys Technologies
Accoya wood from Accsys Technologies isn’t a new material, but the company’s ambitions for environmental impact and sustainability have grown to impressive proportions. With an environmental slogan that declares, “We are changing wood to change the world, enabling the choice to build more sustainably,” Accsys is now recognized by 10 of the most respected ecolabels and organizations.
Accoya wood is an acetylated wood material designed for outdoor use, including in doors and windows. The product is created by subjecting softwood materials to an acetic anhydride (similar to strong vinegar), which interacts with wood cells to prevent them from being able to absorb water. As a result, acetylated wood resists rot and decay, doesn’t swell or shrink (or at least only in very small amounts, according to the company) and is completely recyclable.
According to the company’s environmental reporting, its products have a low—or sometimes even negative—CO2 cost for their life cycles. They are not toxic nor do they create non-biodegradable waste problems, officials say. The trees that make up Accoya wood are renewable several times over within the products’ lifetime.
Accoya wood acquired Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) certification at the Gold level, including Gold ratings for material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness. The product also garners a Platinum rating for material health.
Kudos: ASSA ABLOY
In February, officials for ASSA ABLOY announced that their company is now listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index, placing it in the top 20% for sustainable performance among the largest 600 European companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index.
European sustainability leaders are identified by S&P Global through its corporate sustainability assessment (CSA) program and are assessed and included in the index based on their long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.
ASSA ABLOY’s inclusion in the index, “is an acknowledgement of our focus on sustainability through the programs that we have implemented over the past 10 to 15 years,” says Björn Tibell, head of investor relations. “It shows the progress we have made and endorses our most recent commitment to the science-based targets to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
At a time when the industry faced immense supply chain issues, labor shortages and shutdowns, Henkel took “bold actions” in recent months, says Sylvie Nicol, executive vice president of human resources and chair of the company’s sustainability council.
In 2021, the Dusseldorf, Germany-based adhesives provider laid out a robust plan for curbing its environmental impacts through a “2030+ Sustainability Ambition Framework,” which calls for becoming “climate positive” in production. In order to transform operations and reach its goals, Henkel plans to decarbonize its operations and raw materials, sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources (by 2030). The model calls for generating green power at its sites through wind turbines, solar cells and other technologies, as well as by purchasing green power from the grid of local energy utility companies. Henkel Adhesive Technologies also launched a multi-year solar energy program, including in China where solar modules have been installed at four production sites, with a combined installed capacity of 1.64 megawatts of power.
With a current net carbon footprint for production weighing in at around 475,000 metric tons of CO2, the company aims to cut out 65% of emmissions by 2025, compared to 2010—by 2021 already posting a 50% reduction per ton of product produced.
Henkel’s goals include circular use of waste materials, partly by using 30% recycled plastic content for all consumer goods by 2025. All of its packaging will be designed for recyclability and reusabillty over the same period, while reducing production waste per ton of product by 50%.
It’s an ambitious plan, but with $504 million EUR and 2,600 employees involved, the company is putting its people and resources to work, proving it’s serious about the environment.
Awareness: Fleetwood Windows and Doors
Products and Companies can garner a Green Award by spreading information that furthers consumer awareness. Such is the case for Fleetwood Windows and Doors—a company that goes to great lengths to raise awareness for the environmental benefits associated with aluminum.
Fleetwood claims to offer “the greenest multi-slide and sliding pocket doors in the United States” and purports to do so by using recycled aluminum and glass, and by offering inert coatings and finishes.
About 8% of the Earth’s crust consists of aluminum bauxite, the company’s marketing points out, adding, “This bountiful supply exceeds global demands and because of its recyclable nature, aluminum is the material for the next century.” Additionally, 94% of the world’s supply of bauxite is mined in non-forested regions, minimizing global environmental impact, officials suggest. As part of its waste minimization strategy, 100% of its aluminum remnants are collected and melted down to make new products. Aluminum production from scrap also uses 95% less energy and minimizes the waste stream, the company reports.
Because aluminum is able to endure high heat, the company is also able to cure its painted finishes at 400 F, eliminating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the environment.
In all, the company’s products contribute to more than eight categories for LEED accreditation.
Leadership: Jeld-Wen Corp.
Founded in 1960 by five co-workers in a small factory, Jeld-Wen has grown to become a global company and powerhouse among door and window manufacturers. “Today, I’m focused on a different kind of possibility,” declared the company’s president and CEO Gary S. Michel, while sharing its latest environmental, social and governance plans. “We have always been conscious of minimizing waste and increasing sustainability within our facilities,” Michel said. It’s good business to reuse as much material as possible to reduce wastefulness and save costs, he suggested, and the company has been committed to meeting high standards for energy efficiency for more than 20 years. Jeld-Wen has been an Energy Star partner since 1998, garnering several awards recognizing its leadership in the door and window market, and two of its product lines earned certification by the Passive House Institute for energy efficiency. But, “Now, we realize that expanding our purview is essential to achieving the exponentially larger impact we know is possible,” Michel declared.
Under his leadership, Jeld-Wen aims to do its part in creating a sustainable supply chain and circular economy, partly by partnering with suppliers and investing in systems that support cradle-to-cradle product lifecycles, and by using virgin materials derived from sustainable sources.
In all of the regions in which Jeld-Wen manufactures, the company is committed to sourcing wood products derived from legal and well-managed forests that are FSC and PZEFC certified. Scrap is used for biofuel boilers in its fiber plants, and for its transportation needs, the manufacturer is transitioning to electric or hybrid vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions.
Companywide, Jeld-Wen has invested more than $3.5 million over the past three years into LED lighting projects and approximately 76% of its waste is diverted for re-use or recycling.
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