Owens Corning Releases Ninth Annual Sustainability Report

Owens Corning announced strong progress in reducing its environmental footprint and improving the environmental impact and transparency of its products. The company released these results in its ninth annual sustainability report.

“We are proud of what we accomplished this past year, further reducing our environmental footprint and expanding our positive handprint by introducing new solutions to the challenges of climate change, energy consumption and infrastructure development,” says vice president and chief sustainability officer, Frank O’Brien-Bernini. “Today, our global enterprise operates with 46 percent less absolute greenhouse gas emissions than our peak in 2007, and we are developing ways to make additional reductions. We are committed to expanding our impact through sustainability and collaborating with others to further our progress.”

The report also highlights the company’s global philanthropic work, joint efforts with customers and suppliers to improve sustainability, and analytics on its handprint. All of these support the goal of becoming a net-positive growth company. All of these support the goal of becoming a net-positive growth company.

“We’ve begun to explore handprint opportunities along the social dimensions of human health and employee well-being,” O’Brien-Bernini says. “Continued safety progress and advances in health and wellness help our employees and their families live to the fullest each day.”

Building on the successes of its first 10-year sustainability goals, this is the fourth year Owens Corning has reported against its 2020 goals.

Other highlights of 2014 progress include:

  • Industry-leading track record of safety performance, which earned Owens Corning the 2014 Green Cross for Safety medal from the National Safety Council.
  • Sustained environmental footprint progress, including intensity reductions of 34 percent in greenhouse gas and 65 percent in toxic air emissions from its 2010 baseline.
  • Facilitated 2.4 billion pounds of end-of-life recycled shingles and consumed 1.3 billion pounds of recycled glass, year-over-year increases of 33 percent and 15 percent respectively.
  • Launch of the WindStrand high-performance glass fiber roving and Ultrablade fiberglass reinforcement fabric products, which enable longer and lighter wind blades. This advancement supports the continued growth of economical wind energy for low-wind sites.
  • Participation in community programs at more than half of our worldwide facilities. This included increasing access to basic health and educational needs for more than 19,000 children in India, China and Mexico.
  • Collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health to strengthen its wellness programs.
  • Placement in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fifth consecutive year and named Industry Leader in Sustainability for the second consecutive year.
  • Perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the 11th consecutive year.

Owens Corning’s 2014 Sustainability Report is consistent with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines known as GRI-G3.1. GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines set a globally applicable framework for reporting the economic, environmental and social dimensions of an organization’s activities, products and services.

Arkema Presents Technical Paper about Environmentally Safer Coating Systems

Arkema Inc. presented a technical paper on a high-performance, environmentally safer coating system for optimizing the protection of artistic and historic metalwork at the SSPC 2014 Conference on Feb. 11. SSPC 2014, held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., serves as an international forum at which contractors, consultants, inspectors, engineers, paint/equipment manufacturers, and structure/facility owners exchange the latest research and technologies in the coatings industry. The event’s GreenCOAT technical program emphasizes innovations, the latest advances in eco-conscious coating technology, and developments for complying with green regulations.

With decreasing maintenance budgets, caretakers of our outdoor monuments, sculptures, and high-value architectural metalwork face formidable preservation challenges. In response to this urgent issue, the conservation community is continuously searching for more durable, low-maintenance coatings that provide longer-lasting protection against corrosion and degradation. Equally important, these new coating systems need to be environmentally safe, as increasingly stringent restrictions on volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and solvent use are limiting available materials that can be used.

In his presentation on the restoration of historical architectural tiffany metalwork at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dr. Kurt Wood, a principal scientist in Arkema’s Fluoropolymers R&D Division, explained how Kynar Aquatec PVDF emulsion technology meets the critical needs of the conservation and architectural communities for durable, low maintenance coatings that are safer for the environment. His presentation reviewed the results from accelerated and natural weathering studies, historic architectural metalwork applications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, and a study of the candidate coatings by a group of experienced metal conservators from across the country.

“Researchers at Arkema Inc. continually strive to optimize PVDF-acrylic hybrid materials for different protective coating applications,” says Dr. Wood. “Ultimately, it is hoped that this collaborative work will serve as a guide to conservators, caretakers, and preservation professionals in implementing new strategies for optimizing the protection of high-value artistic and historic metalwork.”

Reroofing Is One of the Few Opportunities to Improve the Built Environment

All of us get misled by catch-phrases, like “Save the Planet” or “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”. Although phrases like these are well intended, they can be misleading; they really are off topic. Something like “Save the Humans” is more to the point and truly the root of the entire sustainability movement. Let’s face it: The efforts to be more green are inherently aimed at a healthier you and me, as well as our children’s and grandchildren’s desire for continued healthful lives and opportunities.

The discussion about green and sustainability needs some context to make it real and effectual. The question to ask is: How does green construction help humans live a healthier and happier life? The answer is: It is because of the co-benefits of building (and living) in a more environmentally appropriate way.

One key component of building environmentally appropriate buildings is that, collectively, we use less energy. Less energy use means no need to build another power plant that creates electricity while spewing pollution into the air. Less pollution in the air means people are healthier. It also means the water and soil are less polluted. We drink that water and eat what grows in the ground. We also eat “stuff” from the rivers, lakes and oceans. Healthier people means reduced costs for health care. Reduced sickness means fewer sick days at the office, and fewer sick days means more productivity by employees. And, dare I say, happier employees are all because of the environmentally appropriate building, or a “human appropriate” building.

So what does all this have to do with roofs? Rooftops, because they are a significant percentage of the building envelope, should not be overlooked as an important and truly significant energy-efficiency measure. Building owners and facility managers should always include energy- efficiency components in their roof system designs. There are few opportunities to improve the building envelope; reroofing is one of those opportunities, and it shouldn’t be missed.

According to the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, Washington, D.C., and building envelope research firm Tegnos Inc., Carmel, Ind., roof systems have the potential to save 700-plus trillion Btus in annual energy use. Too many roofs are not insulated to current code-required levels. If our rooftops were better insulated, these energy-saving estimates would become reality. Imagine the co-benefits of such a significant reduction in energy use!

But how do we know we’re doing the right thing? RoofPoint and the RoofPoint Carbon Calculator will help. The RoofPoint Carbon Calculator uses seven inputs to compare an energy-efficient roof with a baseline roof: insulation, thermal performance, air barrier, roof surface, rooftop PV, solar thermal and roof daylighting. The outputs from the RoofPoint Carbon Calculator are total roof energy use, energy savings due to the energy- efficient roof design, energy savings during peak demand, and CO2 offset for the energy-efficient roof design. This can be used to compare an existing roof (the baseline roof) to a new roof design (the energy-efficient roof), and this will help verify the energy savings and reduction of carbon output. It’s an excellent tool for verifying how green a new roof can be.

Don’t just take my word on this co-benefits idea. The Economist recently published a blog about the EPA and rulings on interstate pollution. The article cited a claim that by 2014—if pollution rates were half of those in 2005—hundreds of thousands of asthma cases each year could be prevented and nearly 2 million work and school days lost to respiratory illness could be eliminated. And just think, improving your roof’s energy efficiency is key to the reduction of power-plant use and the pollution that comes from them. So, yes, a roof can help your kids and your grandkids be healthy and happy.