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 Brian Cooley, director of sustainability for Huber Engineered Woods (which includes ZIPsystem roof and wall sheathing) via email about the company's approach to sustainability and for Cooley's thoughts on the path ahead.
What is your company’s mission statement when it comes to sustainability?
Huber Engineered Woods conducts its activities in a manner that protects the well-being of its employees and the public with a minimal environmental footprint. We work to meet the needs of current customers without compromising the well-being of future generations. [ Click here to read more of Huber's environmental statements.]
What are some of the key goals for Huber in this realm and what kinds of metrics are you using to measure progress?
Huber is developing environmental product declarations (EPDs) for each of its building solutions. With the EPD project, sustainability will become a filter in our NPD/Innovation stage gate process [a process that is built on the techniques of Design for Six Sigma]. Additionally, the company has made a priority of reducing energy and water consumption by 2 percent at large consuming sites.
When it comes to sustainable manufacturing and high-performance products, is there one aspect of sustainability you and your company 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?
Environmental product declarations are all about providing transparency into the manufacturing process to encourage sustainability. Huber’s principles and green building trends, which are on the rise, are driving decisions for the company to be as sustainable as possible.
Many Huber locations are largely focused on community outreach efforts. Huber’s manufacturing operations are also focused on wood utilization, which leads to less material waste and less energy and water consumption. Implementing innovative and cutting edge pollution control technology has also been a priority of Huber’s for decades; Huber was the first company in the industry to install a biofilter for control of press emissions.
What do you think are one or two of the biggest challenges facing sustainable product manufacturing between now and 2020?
We face many of the same challenges that are facing the manufacturing industry. Capital allocation for environmental projects is increasingly difficult, and it takes considerable capital to retool factories, change processes, or replace raw materials. Even the smallest change can trigger expensive and lengthy retesting projects and regulatory re-qualifications.
Another challenge is learning what the market wants and what the perceived value is to the end-user. Often in this industry it seems that people want materials that are more energy efficient, but they cannot always describe what specific improvements are desired. What is the end-user willing to pay for? New production techniques and sustainable materials often cost more, at least initially, than standard products. Huber is often restricted on what it can develop because of the limitations and capital intensity of our existing manufacturing processes.
How can high-performance building professionals help drive sustainability in your company?
New “green” products require the voice of the customer, and our company’s ability to interact with sustainability-minded homeowners is limited. Gaining insights from internal high-performance building professionals is important as their input may represent the demands of hundreds of architects and homeowners. Continuing to push the innovation envelope will continue to drive Huber to operate even more efficiently.
Huber currently has several technical and sales team members that are LEED-accredited and stay attuned with green building trends. The company is also involved in many green building conferences, and consults with high-performance building professionals on a regular basis. As a manufacturer of innovative and high-end products, high performance builders are a considerable part of Huber’s target market, and it is important to keep a finger on the pulse of the green building industry at all times.
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.