Volume 6 Issue 11 December 2005
WHY THE FENESTRATION INDUSTRY IS TURNING GREEN
Throw Away? No Way!
At Nicos Polymers and Grinding (NPG), company representative Bob Perrone admits he is “shocked” that more companies don’t use its services. After all, the company pays customers such as extruders and fabricators, for their scrap and reprocess it for other applications.
“This is a big deal for the environment,” says Perrone. Additionally, companies don’t have to spend money to get their products deposited in a landfill.
Representatives for NPG, located in a 180,000 square foot facility in Nazareth, Pa., admit that it may not be worth it for some companies to use its services due to distance, amount of scrap, etc. But it makes sense for companies such as Deceuninck North America and SilverLine Windows. NPG buys back the scrap from Deceuninck, and Perrone says that scrap may make it back into another window, a fact that is good news for the environment.
Though NPG has been in business for 24 years it’s a slow process getting companies to see the value of services such as it NPG provides. The recycler currently works with eight extruders and 25 fabricators to reprocess scrap.
In fact, NPG recently started working with a fabricator who was sending its scrap overseas. “They weren’t getting what they felt it was worth so now we are working together,” says Perrone.
The company has some impressive experience outside the window industry as well. NPG worked on the high-profile Gates Project (designed by artist Christo and Jeanne-Claude) which was on display in New York’s Central Park. For that project, the company recycled more than 750,000 pounds of PVC, 20,000 pounds of HIPS and polypropylene and 75,000 pounds of Nylon fabric.
Pella Corp. says it was committed to environmental stewardship long before the practice became popular. The company says it practices environmental stewardship in three ways: responsible use of natural resources, recycling and creating energy-efficient products.
When it comes to natural resources, company spokesperson Kathy Krafka Harkema says more than three-quarters of wood used in the manufacture of its products come from suppliers that are certified by organizations that support responsible forestry management. In other words, companies that use sustainable sources and species and work with vendors who practice responsible harvest and replenishment.
Pella recognizes the major certification systems: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Pan European Forest Certification Council, and the Canadian Standards Association. (For more on the first two programs, see article, page 34). Krafka Harkema adds that the company primarily purchases four types of pine, mostly from North American sources.
But the use of natural resources is not the only area in which Pella gets As. It recycles or reuses nearly 99 percent of the sawdust created through manufacturing, and at least 95 percent of the cladding on its door and window products come from recycled aluminum. Broken and surplus glass makes its way into other applications as well.
Pella is also a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and provides information to architects, designers and building owners regarding how its products can help buildings earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating. This rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard that defines high-performance, sustainable buildings (For more on LEED, see page 34).
“When we help more builders and architects and building owners understand how Pella products can contribute to a project being LEED certified, then we’re doing our job of being good stewards of our resources,” said Brian Robbins, commercial sales solutions specialist.
WDMA Lobbies for Greater Role in
The WDMA has been lobbying to see that associations can play a role in USGBC (see July DWM, page 6), and those efforts have paid off. USGBC announced that it has applied with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to become an ANSI accredited developer for standards related to green building practices. Becoming ANSI accredited will require that the USGBC prove that they are a consensus, open and inclusive developer of standards, according to Perry. Along with USGBC’s ANSI filing, it also announced an amendment to USGBC bylaws expanding its membership to include trade and professional associations. This change will give associations, like WDMA, a voice in the programs that are developed, according to Perry.
Some of the LEED guidelines, according to Peter Walker, chairman of the WDMA’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, need to have the basis for its scientific information reviewed. For example, he says, LEED puts an emphasis on alternative species of trees, which are what the USGBC calls “rapidly renewable” (i.e. renewable in 10 years or less), but does not give proper emphasis to other types of trees. The use of wood species from more traditional forests should also be encouraged, Walker says, since more trees are now being planted than are harvested from these forests. “Wood is one of the more renewable products,” he adds. “Forests can regenerate or be replanted.”
WDMA Investigates Wood Certification Programs
Recognizing that forest certification programs will impact members who produce wood products, the WDMA is taking a closer look at a number of forest certification programs on the market, in an effort to help members decipher the pros and cons of each program.
“There is a great deal at stake,” says Rick Perry, director of industry standards. “A cautious approach needs to be taken so there is a clear understanding of what WDMA’s position is and what we recommend.”
FSC Versus SFI
Two of the most referenced forestry certification programs under consideration are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
The SFI program, developed by the American Forest and Paper Association, which is comprised of professional foresters, conservationists and scientists. The membership represents 90 percent of industrial timberland, 84 percent of paper production and 54 percent of solid wood production. More than 150 million acres of forestland in North America are enrolled in the SFI program.
The FSC program, based in Bonn, Germany, says it promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests, and it has gained recognition as a global forestry certification program. Major retailers in North and South America, Europe and Asia request its certification, and the FSC program has 119 million acres in more than 60 countries. Among the key points are FSC’s significant strides in gaining general acceptance and its marketing effort to inform and educate corporations; the legislature and the public; and FSC’s standards review process which includes participation from industry, environmentalists and social stakeholders.
The WDMA has concerns regarding the use of forest certification programs in green building programs. The LEED program mandates the use of only one certification program—FSC. LEED, which has been fast-growing and successful in building construction, needs to modify its policy by recognizing other certification programs in order to accommodate manufacturers, according to Perry.
The association is also concerned that there may not be enough FSC-certified wood to meet the demands of users, and that this would affect the availability of certified wood for doors and windows. Although FSC has 119 million acres worldwide, it has less than 15 percent—or 16 million acres—in the United States. SFI has 150 million acres.
“If FSC is the only source [for certification], our concern is that there won’t be enough certified wood available for manufacturing. A shortage would force companies to go overseas for materials and higher cost, or forego bidding on LEED projects,” says Perry.
Another consideration is the growth of environmental groups and their influence on the construction industry, either directly or indirectly.
“There are several environmental programs that have the potential to evolve from being voluntary to mandatory,” adds Perry.
The WDMA says this poses an interesting question for the association. How much of a voice should WDMA have in the formulation of environmental certification programs?
“We see SFI as more of a consensus organization where our membership would have more of a voice and that is very important to us,” says Jeff Lowinski, acting WDMA president.
Environmental Committee Plays Greater Role in Green Building Issues
As environmental issues continue to be elevated in importance, associations, such as the WDMA, take a greater role in these efforts as well. The association’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC) was formed to gather information on green building initiatives and developments critical to window, door and skylight manufacturers and suppliers.
This includes monitoring developments at the USGBC and its expanding network of sustainable building certification programs. ESC is also gathering information about other groups who have an influence on green practices, including the American Institute of Architects and the Construction Specifications Institute, as well as state and local green building programs nationwide.
In addition, the ESC is in the process of developing a guide on how door and window products can contribute to building points in the USGBC’s LEED programs. LEED gives points for various aspects of environmentally-friendly design, but does not give direct credit for individual products.
The ESC guide currently covers wood interior doors. However, according to Peter Walker, chairman of the ESC and an executive with the J.M. Huber Co., the guide is now being expanded to include all other products manufactured by WDMA members, including windows and exterior doors. It will also cover other materials, such as aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass and composites.
Brochure Promotes Vinyl’s Environmental Advantages
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) is making it easier for companies and homeowners to identify the environmental advantages of vinyl. The new “green vinyl” brochure, “A Clear View: Vinyl Windows and the Environment” is available at www.aamanet.org. The brochure, which was produced by the Vinyl Institute and AAMA’s Vinyl Materials Council, promotes vinyl as an environmentally safe and responsible choice for a building material and points out its benefits including: energy conservation, durability, low maintenance, recyclability, fire-retardant characteristics and environmental health and safety.
LEED Expands to Homes
While many in the commercial window industry have heard about LEED for several years, this program is now finding its way into the residential segment. Nigel Howard, vice president for LEED and international programs for the USGBC, spoke before members of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) at the group’s summer meeting. He told members about the LEED for Homes program being developed by the USGBC with input from local and national stakeholder groups. According to USGBC, “this is a voluntary initiative promoting the transformation of the mainstream home building industry towards more sustainable practices. It will provide a much-needed tool for homebuilders, homeowners and local governments for building environmentally sound, healthy and resource-efficient places to live.”
The project is currently in the pilot test phase. For more information go to www.usgbc.org.
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