Owens Corning Sustainability Report: Four Environmental Goals Met Ahead of Schedule

by | Jul 9, 2010

Owens Corning has exceeded its intensity goals for nitrogen oxides emissions, particulate matter, and water, and met its waste-to-landfill reduction goal, according to the company’s fourth annual Sustainability Report. The company also has made progress towards its energy and volatile organic compound (VOC) goals but still needs more work to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal.

The manufacturer of energy-saving insulation and composites used in wind turbine blades has set reduction targets across several environmental performance areas: energy by 25 percent, GHG emissions by 30 percent, NOx by 25 percent, VOCs by 25 percent, particulate matter by 20 percent, waste-to-landfill by 35 percent and water by 15 percent.

The manufacturer has reduced the energy intensity of its operations by 13 percent from 2002 to 2009 and expects to meet the 2012 reduction goal of 25 percent. Absolute usage is down 31 percent from 2002, but reduced business activity, combined with energy base loads in certain processes, has eroded some of the energy intensity reductions previously achieved, according to the report.

The company is reducing its energy use by implementing energy-savings projects across its operations. As an example, Owens Corning’s plant in Santa Clara, Calif., is saving $252,000 in energy costs annually thanks to several energy-savings projects recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now assessment.

Absolute reduction of emissions at Owens Corning is down 11 percent in 2009 versus the 2002 baseline year. In 2009, the company’s North American operations that produce foam products began converting to a new blowing agent that reduces GHG intensity by more than 70 percent at those locations on an annual basis.

However, increased foam production outside of North America contributed to increased GHG intensity. The company’s sources of greenhouse emissions are dominated primarily by foam blowing agent at about 60 percent of emissions.

Owens Corning expects the North American conversions combined with increased energy-efficiency projects to bring the company closer to its 2012 reduction goal of 30 percent.

The company also reduced its VOC intensity by 16 percent and its absolute emissions by 33 percent from 2002 to 2009. Owens Corning attributes 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 percent intensity reduction from its base year of 2002. Absolute emissions are down 52 percent since 2002.

The company attributes some of the reduction to the implementation of glass melting technology improvements at its composites business. More than 60 percent of Owens Corning’s NOx emissions are generated from its composites business due to the glass melting process and raw materials used.

The company also continued to exceed its 2012 reduction goal of 20 percent for particulate matter emissions by maintaining a 31 percent intensity reduction from its 2002 baseline year. Absolute emissions were down 47 percent.

Water consumption intensity exceeded the company’s 2012 goal of a 15 percent decrease. In 2009, the company maintained its intensity reductions from previous years and achieved a 20 percent reduction from 2002. These reductions have been achieved through operational improvements, water filtration and recycling programs. Absolute use of water was reduced in 2009 by 36 percent compared to 2002.

In 2009, the company met its 2012 reduction goal of 35 percent for waste-to-landfill through production efficiencies, recycling and reclaiming projects. Absolute waste-to-landfill was down 53 percent compared with waste in 2002.

Owens Corning is one of the largest users of recycled glass in the world and claims to have the highest level of certified recycled content among all fiberglass insulation producers in the U.S. at a minimum of 50 percent. This is certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS).

Owens Corning also partnered with a Kansas City glass-crushing facility to launch a city-wide glass recycling program, saving up to 80,000 tons of glass from landfills each year.

The company also launched a shingle recycling program that makes it easier for contractors to recycle their asphalt shingles.

The company received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in the New Construction category for its Gresham, Ore. foam insulation plant, the only LEED Gold-certified insulation facility in the U.S., according to the company.

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