Companies Weigh in on Ways the Industry Can Further Go Green
April 20, 2011

This Friday, April 22, marks the 41st Earth Day, and glass and glazing products can certainly play a key role in creating energy-efficient buildings. However, many agree that it’s more than just the products, as manufacturing procedures and an overall green mentality are also important.

“The glass and glazing industry has always been on the forefront of the green movement. Manufacturers and fabricators are constantly developing technologies to make glazing products more energy efficient and better adapted to meet the demands of a changing environment,” says Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America (GANA). “Furthermore, the glazing industry has made huge advances in daylighting technology and philosophy. As architecture moves more and more to a naturalistic aesthetic, using daylighting as one of its cornerstones, it's the glass manufacturers and fabricators who are making it possible.”

Glenn Miner, director, construction, PPG Performance Glazings, said that his company welcomes any effort to focus people’s thoughts on using less energy.

“Products that promote energy efficiency and sustainability represent an increasingly vital segment of PPG’s business,” Miner said. “PPG established an ethic of environmental leadership well before there was an Earth Day. In fact, Solexia glass, which we introduced as Solex glass in the 1930s, was the first architectural glass designed to absorb heat and make buildings more energy efficient.”

Miner adds that on the manufacturing side of its glass business, PPG continues to license proprietary oxy-fuel technology to glass makers around the world. 

“Not only does this process reduce the amount of fuel used to make glass by up to 15 percent, it also makes the atmosphere cleaner and healthier by cutting CO/2 and nitrous oxide emission,” he says.

Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management at Guardian Industries, says caring about the environment is important to companies and governments as well as employees and citizens. “We’re all in this together. At Guardian we’re actively engaged on both sides of the energy equation. On the manufacturing side, we pursue processes and policies that ensure we are efficient consumers of energy. We have programs and people always looking for new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our Carleton, Mich., float plant is a case in point with a 'Green Team' approach that has increased employee awareness and education and is finding new outlets for waste products. [The plant] has recycled more than 1,464 tons of materials since the program's inception in 2007.”

In addition to glass, architectural metal materials, such as curtainwall and storefront, can also be eco-friendly.
“Aluminum has a strong fit with the sustainable imperative. It is capable of delivering highly innovative buildings in a sustainable, efficient way. Recycled aluminum is identical to smelted aluminum, but requires only 1/20 of the energy to manufacture,” explains Kimberly Ferro, vice president, marketing and product development for
Kawneer North America. “Less energy means less carbon dioxide and fewer greenhouse emissions. And, unlike other materials in the recycling stream, aluminum can be recycled repeatedly.

“From our high thermal performing systems and solar control products, to our LEED planning tool and educational sponsorships like the University of Tennessee’s Living Light Solar Decathlon team, we are constantly looking for ways to encourage sustainability and challenge the status quo,” says Ferro, who adds though, “We must all continue to look beyond product and into our materials and company practices. From manufacturing and educational programs to the materials we use for printed pieces, each component can contribute to a greener environment.”

Oliver Stepe, senior vice president, YKK AP America, says at his company they believe every day is Earth Day.  

“All [of our] products are created in facilities that are environmentally-friendly and ISO 14001 certified, a standard that reduces the environmental footprint of a business as well as decreases the pollution and waste a  business produces,” says Stepe. “All manufacturing in YKK AP’s Dublin manufacturing plant is vertically integrated, decreasing the amount of waste on-site by ensuring all aluminum materials used within the plant are recycled. This model also enables our company to maintain complete control of quality, delivery and cost.”

Stepe adds that they also believe it’s important to celebrate Earth Day through community activism. 

“In honor of Earth Day 2011, YKK AP sponsored Keep Dublin-Laurens Beautiful (KDLB), a local Dublin, Ga., affiliate of Keep America Beautiful by participating in local events surrounding the holiday.”

And Yanek adds, “As we celebrate Earth Day, which GANA has done for many years, we should thank the glazing industry for making our home and business environment more natural and inviting.”

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