Since 2012, Hanley Wood 's Vision 2020 program has brought together building industry experts to establish and examine a timeline of critical goals and metrics that building professionals must establish and meet by the year 2020 in order to preserve our environment and meet large-scale goals such as those of the 2030 Challenge. The program is supported not only by the 10 members of the Hanley Wood Sustainability Council, but also by underwriting product manufacturers who are deeply invested in high-performance design. Last July, we brought together the sustainability experts from each of our underwriting sponsors for a candid discussion on the challenges of green product manufacturing and now, in a series of one-on-one interviews, we explore their companies' individual philosophies on the high-performance building realm.

We recently spoke with Martin Grohman, director of sustainability for GAF, about the roofing company's approach to sustainability and for Grohman's thoughts on the path ahead.

What is GAF’s mission when it comes to sustainability?

Our official mission statement in on our website at gaf.com/green.[GAF's statement, per Grohman, is: "As the roofing industry leader, GAF is proud to promote sustainability in all areas of our business. We practice and support new technologies in energy efficiency, material optimization, and recycling that help conserve natural resources, and we share our knowledge to help our contractors, colleagues, and customers do the same."]

One of the things in our mission statement is working with contractors. When I joined the company as the first director of sustainability in 2010, the big opportunity that I saw was with our factory-certified contractor program.

We pride ourselves on having a deep relationships with our factory-certified contractors. They're a big reason for our success, and they look to us for new programs. They've also been very receptive to getting involved in our sustainability program.

Creating our certified green roofer program was the initial light bulb. I realized I could get in front of people who were used to GAF talking to them about how to run their business. I saw that I could green our business and also green hundreds of others, too, by reaching out to these contractors. That was the first thing I did that made a lot of progress.

You think that contractors don't care about sustainability, but that's not truethey really are a passionate group. I've had a contractor grab a state legislator that he saw at a red light and push them for shingle recycling. I've been able to build on that, and that remains a part of our mission statement.

What are some of the key goals for GAF in this realm, and what kinds of metrics are you using to measure progress?

On of the first things I track is the number of contractors in our sustainability programs. On behalf of the industry overall, we would like to see the recovery of post-consumer shingles increase. The latest data that we have from the National Asphalt Paving Association shows that rate at 20 percent in 2012. Bottles and cans are at 28 percent and when we started, we started at around 8 percent. There has been a lot of progress across the industry.

Another thing I track is ROGE: Return on Green Efforts. We just had a nice lighting upgrade that is going to generate $230,000 in savings fairly quickly. That goes into my ROGE numbers. We have a searchable list on the company intranet that helps track ROGE, too. For example, our Savannah plant hadn't been able to recycle cardboard cores and we found a supplier that would do that. The process also ends up saving thousands of dollars a year, too. I like to focus on programs that have both an economic and an environmental benefit. I want programs that will continue after I move on and I feel that those are the ones that will. There's no shortage of those both in life and in business that you can uncover.

When it comes to sustainable manufacturing and high-performance products, is there one aspect of sustainability you and GAF are currently focusing on the most, such as water efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, community outreach, or material transparency? What is driving your focus in this area?

A big thing for me has been landfill diversion and zero-waste certifications. Early on, I realized that two of our plants had become zero-waste manufacturing facilities on their own without much prodding. I toured them and wrote up a procedure on the term. We use UL a lot, and so I shared my draft standard with them and they started a standard technical committee for landfill diversion standard. We were the first to earn that.

My biggest development with product development has been related to recycling. We incorporate a lot of recycled material into our asphalt shingles and several of them are above 30 percent post-industrial recycled content that is blast furnace and coal slag material. That is almost a procurement achievement more than it is a product development achievement, although it is technically both. I'm very proud of that.

What do you think are one or two of the biggest challenges or opportunities facing sustainable product manufacturing between now and 2020?

I'm interested in the packaging side of construction. I'm always stopping the family to take pictures of dumpsters that are full of mixed cardboard [see below]. There's nothing in LEED, for example, that addresses this. It's not difficult. We just don't really focus on it.

I'm interested in these on-site challenges. It's a miss in LEED and I always put it in the draft comments. It doesn't get into the construction waste realm because it's not heavy, but it is valuable. There is opportunity there.

Credit: Martin Grohman


How can high-performance building professionals help drive sustainability in GAF?

Anyone like me will say always specify the cool roof option. Sales drive investment. It's not the professionals' job to do marketing for us, but their purchases tell a story.

We work increasingly with facility managers, too. It's amazing how advanced that crowd is becoming and we have to come into those discussions with our game faces on. There's a high level of understanding and an analytic approach. I see them really moving the needle for us. They're pushing the discussion of the ultimate building envelope.

Stay tuned as we continue to chat one-on-one with the sustainability directors of this year's Vision 2020 underwriters. Scroll over points in our on-going timeline to learn more about the path ahead in green building. Track our progress all year as the Hanley Wood Sustainability Council shares their perspectives on initiating, tracking, and ensuring progress toward these sustainable priorities and goals. This year's program will culminate in an exclusive Vision 2020 Sustainability Summit in conjunction with Greenbuild in New Orleans, and with a special Fall edition of ECOBUILDING REVIEW.