Businesses use ‘green’ products, practices to achieve sustainabilityWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainability has become more than just a buzz word for business and industry today as many companies adopt measures and plans to make their facilities more energy-efficient and the products they make more environmentally friendly.
In a recent national survey of companies, 45 percent of respondents indicated their company has formal sustainability goals with 50 percent of all industrial companies compared to 26 percent of commercial firms having such goals.
The automotive and glass industries had the highest number of companies with sustainability goals at 75 percent. The survey also showed that larger companies are more likely to have goals with 64 percent of respondents having 10,000 or more employees.
The national survey was conducted this fall by SSOE Inc., a local architectural and engineering firm. The company reported 176 individuals from 158 companies responded to the survey.
“We conducted this research to generate original data and enhance the knowledge available to our clients as they seek to benchmark with other leading firms and set sustainability goals,” said Catherine Malicki, vice president and director of marketing for SSOE.
“Our diverse client base, ranging from health care and retail to automotive, chemical and biofuels, puts us in a unique position to survey a broad range of industries and then share the results with all of our clients to promote cross-industry best practices,” she said.
The survey identified the top sustainability goals as follows: reducing energy consumption; recycling energy and materials; achieving sustainable facility design; using energy-efficient products and equipment; and reducing emissions and hazardous waste.
“SSOE’s commitment to the environment starts here at home,” said Tony Damon, CEO of the Toledo-based firm.
As the company prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2008, SSOE is setting its own sustainability goals. Damon reported plans are in the works for renovating its Downtown Toledo headquarters for certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
The LEED certification is the nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction and operation of “green” buildings as established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
SSOE has authored a report that includes the best practices and strategies to achieve sustainability goals with the complete results of the survey available at www.ssoe.com/greenpaper.htm.
In recent years, academic and public discourse has led to the use of sustainability in reference to maintaining productive ecological and economic systems indefinitely. Common use of the term began in 1987 with the World Commission on Environment and Development report “Our Common Future.”
SSOE helps clients achieve their sustainability goals by providing design and engineering services. With LEED-certified experts in every discipline, it helps them implement green design principles related to sustainable site development, energy efficiency, water savings, material selection and indoor environment quality.
Automaker Honda’s research and development facility located in Marysville was the first in Ohio to receive the LEED gold certification, the highest level possible. SSOE designed the utility facility for Honda to be highly energy efficient and generate lower emissions.
Sustainable design is defined by SSOE as “a common sense, creative approach to land use, building design and construction strategies that reduces environmental impact and increases performance.”
Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers (CHWC) Hospital in Bryan is employing sustainable design strategies to make its hospital energy efficient and create a healthy environment for its patients and employees. SSOE is using LEED for new construction as a source of sustainable design and construction concepts for that project.
LEED is becoming part of good architectural, engineering and construction practices, said Louise Schlatter, architectural department manager at SSOE. She has designed numerous green projects for clients in the automotive, chemical, industrial manufacturing and technology fields.
First Solar in Perrysburg, a manufacturer of thin-film solar modules, is a model of sustainable production practices. Its recycling program assures that nearly all components of the modules, such as glass, metals and the semiconductor materials, are processed and recycled into new modules or other products. The process involves separating the layers of glass in the panel, cleaning and providing them to glass manufacturers for recycling. First Solar needs to maintain a consistent chemical composition in its glass to assure the quality of the recycled product.
First Solar also separates the metal layers from the remaining module components and purifies the metals so they can be recycled into other commercial products.
SSOE’s survey showed that some of the best recycling practices can be found in the glass industry because glass is fairly easy to recycle and can be reused in different products and applications.
Libbey Inc. in Toledo uses glass wastes from manufacturing glassware, grinds it into what is called cullet and uses it as an ingredient in making more glass. Libbey has produced glassware at its Toledo plant since 1888.
Owens Corning’s line of Fiberglas insulation products has been certified to contain an average of 35 percent recycled content by an independent certifier. It assures building contractors that using Owens Corning Fiberglas insulation will help customers achieve green building guidelines or LEED certification.