Owens Corning: four environmental goals met ahead of schedule

Owens Corning has, according to the company“s fourth annual Sustainability Report, exceeded its intensity goals for nitrogen oxides emissions, particulate matter, and water, and has also met its wast…

Owens Corning has, according to the company“s fourth annual Sustainability Report, exceeded its intensity goals for nitrogen oxides emissions, particulate matter, and water, and has also met its waste-to-landfill reduction goal. The company has also made progress towards its energy and volatile organic compound (VOC) goals but needs to work further to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal. The company has set reduction targets across several environmental performance areas: energy by 25%, GHG emissions by 30%, NOx by 25%, VOCs by 25%, particulate matter by 20%, waste-to-landfill by 35% and water by 15%. Owens Corning has reduced the energy intensity of its operations by 13% from 2002 to 2009 and expects to meet its 2012 reduction goal of 25%. Absolute usage has decreased 31% since 2002, but reduced business activity, combined with energy base loads in certain processes, has, according to the report, affected some of the previously achieved energy intensity reductions. An example of the company“s reductions in energy use can be seen at its plant in Santa Clara, California, which is saving USD 252,000 in energy costs annually thanks to several energy-savings projects recommended by the US Department of Energy“s Save Energy Now assessment. Absolute reduction of Owens Corning“s emissions decreased 11% in 2009 compared to the 2002 baseline year. In 2009, the company“s North American foam products operations started to convert to a new blowing agent that reduces GHG intensity by more than 70% annually. However, increased foam production outside of North America contributed to increased GHG intensity. Owens Corning said it expects North American conversions, combined with increased energy-efficiency projects, to lead it closer to its 2012 reduction goal of 30%. The company also reduced its VOC intensity by 16% and absolute emissions by 33% from 2002 to 2009, attributing the reduction through binder and sizing application efficiency improvements and lower VOC raw material substitutions in its manufacturing operations for both composites and insulation products. Owens Corning also continued to exceed its 2012 goal for reducing NOx, achieving a 39% intensity reduction from its base year of 2002, while absolute emissions have decreased 52% since 2002. According to the company, some of the reduction can be attributed to the implementation of glass melting technology improvements at its composites business. More than 60% of Owens Corning“s NOx emissions are generated by its composites business, and are caused by glass melting and raw materials used. The company also continued to exceed its 2012 reduction goal of 20% for particulate matter emissions maintaining a 31% intensity reduction from its 2002 baseline year, while absolute emissions decreased 47%. Water consumption intensity exceeded the 2012 goal of a 15% decrease. In 2009, the company maintained its intensity reductions from previous years and achieved a 20% reduction from 2002, which were achieved through operational improvements, water filtration and recycling programmes. In 2009, absolute use of water decreased 36% compared to 2002. In 2009, the company met its 2012 reduction goal of 35% for waste-to-landfill thanks to production efficiencies, recycling and reclaiming projects, with absolute waste-to-landfill down 53% compared with waste in 2002. With regards to fiberglass manufacture, Owens Corning claims to be is one of the largest users of recycled glass in the world with a minimum of 50% certified recycled content. The company also partnered with a Kansas City glass-crushing facility to launch a city-wide glass recycling programme, saving up to 80,000 tons of glass from landfills each year, as well as launching a shingle recycling programme to facilitate contractors in recycling their asphalt shingles. Owens Corning also received the U.S. Green Building Council“s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in the New Construction category for its foam insulation plant in Gresham, Oregon, which, according to the company, is the only LEED Gold-certified insulation facility in the US.