Volume 44, Issue 11 - November 2009

feature

The Winner of the First USGlass Green Award
Green Process, Green Products, Green Knowledge, This Company Has It All

Some companies define the term “green” through the products they offer to assist in creating energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Others work on reducing their environmental footprint in the manufacturing process, or promoting these messages to employees and colleagues. To promote all of these contributions toward making our world a better, healthier place, USGlass recognizes YKK AP America Inc. in Austell, Ga., as the recipient of the First USGlass Green Award.

The September issue of USGlass included a list of nominees for its first Green Awards (see September 2009 USGlass, page 44). Brief explanations of some of the things that make each company green were included. USGlass and USGNN.com™ readers then voted for the greenest manufacturer via www.usglassmag.com. Based on reader votes, we have for you an in-depth look at what one company does to promote green through its manufacturing process, products and corporate culture.


Creating Efficient Manufacturing Processes
For YKK AP America, green begins with the manufacturing process itself—which for this company began with the worldwide group’s global environmental charter, written in 1994. Among other things, it has driven each of its manufacturing plants to be ISO 14001-certified. The Dublin, Ga., facility received the second renewal of its ISO 14001 certification in July 2009.

“That’s a global position for the corporation, to have all of their plants around the world to be environmentally certified,” explains Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of YKK AP America Inc.

To earn this certification, the Dublin plant recycles 100-percent of aluminum waste onsite and captures 93 percent of solvent emissions from its paint line. It uses advanced wastewater treatment methods, has reduced gas usage and has goals for further emissions reduction.

In 2007, YKK AP was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as an “Energy Saver” plant. The DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) recognizes U.S. manufacturing plants for implementing recommendations identified during “Save Energy Now” energy assessments and for achieving significant energy savings. One reason the facility earned this recognition was for improvements to its process for melting and casting aluminum billet. In this process the company uses natural gas to melt down aluminum and create 60603 alloy. Through an internal research project, and in cooperation with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the company identified technologies that could be added to its manufacturing process to save natural gas.

“We melt and cast our own billets from raw aluminum and that is a natural gas consumer, that particular process,” Stepe explains. “At the end of 2006 we installed a regeneration burner … That actually saved, in one year, 40 percent on our natural gas consumption, so it’s a pretty big impact. That was the year we overall reduced the energy consumption in our plant by nearly 10 percent.”

He adds that one of the biggest benefits of the Energy Saver program is that it is a resource for manufacturers.

“They work with manufacturers on ideas on how to save energy, so they’re fairly proactive in it, and if you adopt recommendations then you can attempt to get the recognition,” Stepe says.

For more information on being an Energy Saver, visit www.eere.energy.gov.

Energy Efficiency Through Products
Those green manufacturing processes lead up to the main attraction, an array of products that promote energy-efficiency. YKK AP America launched recently the enerGfacade™ family of products to promote energy-efficiency. In addition, the company was the first fenestration system producer to receive Cradle to CradleSM (C2C) certification of a product for its ThermaShade™ sunshade system.

According to MBDC, the product and process design firm that manages C2C, the certification provides companies with a means to tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally intelligent design. If a product achieves the necessary criteria, it is certified as a Basic, Silver, Gold or Platinum certified product.

“C2C specifically is being recognized under the innovation category in the LEED rating system,” Stepe adds. However, he cautions, “LEED has not strongly adopted C2C—yet.”

C2C was one of the first programs to emerge to validate manufacturers’ claims of a product’s “greenness,” a classification without clear characteristics. But as Stepe points out, “There are many different parties currently vying for validating the green space … It’s an interesting phenomenon in that you’ve got a lot of organizations vying to be the watchdog of green claims. We have to sit back and watch who’s going to position themselves most strongly.”

Stepe notes that YKK AP America’s next steps in product developments will hinge upon the codes that are adopted to promote further energy efficiency.

“The amount of momentum that is occurring from the government level down to reduce energy consumption is the most significant I’ve seen in my time in the industry, and there’s going to be a continuous push through codes to reduce the U-values of fenestration systems,” Stepe says. “What we’re focused on right now is identifying the future codes … Once those codes become clearer, we’ll focus more effort on advancing the thermal technology of the product to meet the code.”

Educating Employees on Green
YKK AP America also promotes the green message to its employees by encouraging LEED AP accreditation.
“In 2009, YKK AP realized the benefits of having our employees well-versed in green design and construction and added the LEED AP accreditation to our sales career development plan,” explains Tom Minnon, LEED AP. Minnon is the in-house trainer and study group facilitator for helping employees achieve this accreditation. In 2009 he held a training program that consisted of weekly audio conferences for 10 consecutive weeks prior to the LEED AP exam. Each session consisted of taking practice exam questions and a review.

“By achieving LEED AP status, salespeople are eligible for advancement to YKK AP’s senior account manager level. So far, we’ve had seven employees successfully pass the LEED AP exam,“ Minnon explains.

The LEED AP credentials are a qualifier for the company’s senior-most level of sales representative, senior account manager.

Phil Blizzard, LEED AP, participated in the study group and likewise attained his certification this summer. “I was very pleased to see the company support employees who expressed an interest in becoming LEED AP’s by making information, study materials and study time available to us,” Blizzard says. He adds, “YKK AP recognizes the attributes of green design and encourages us to understand how our products can contribute to the LEED green building rating system and help preserve the natural environment for ourselves and future generations.”

Going Green
If your company wasn’t nominated this year but you believe it should be considered next year,
e-mail mheadley@glass.com.

 

 

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