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Insulation, Sustainability and the Environment: ESICA Members Prove Their Commitment

Wednesday, July 17, 2019  
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The focus of today’s architects, specifiers and builders is on sustainability—building for longevity while conserving the environment. This means choosing building products that are energy-efficient, conserve virgin resources, minimize waste and reduce pollution.

Our   industry has made countless changes in products and manufacturing processes to decrease energy used, virtually eliminate waste and limit the amount of pollutants emitted.  We are proud to feature four of our ESICA members who are dedicated to creating sustainable products and processes fundamental to energy efficiency.  Products and processes that preserve the natural environment, utilize renewable resources, use less energy, last longer and are more comfortable to be in and around.

Owens Corning:

“Sustainability is at the heart of our business, from the products we make to the way we make them.  We use our deep expertise in materials, manufacturing and building science to develop products and systems that save energy and improve comfort.  For us, sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present while leaving the world a better place for the future.”

Frank O’Brien-Bernini, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Owens Corning

Responsible innovation drives the culture of Owens Corning.  The company seeks to implement continuous and measurable improvements in the way their products are developed and produced. As responsible innovators, OC thoroughly evaluates the sustainability aspects of all they do, from research to blueprint to production.

Energy efficient, safe and regenerative, Owens Corning products are designed to contribute to comfortable and safe living environments.  Total life cycle assessments of all core products examine every stage of a product’s life, starting with the extraction of raw material inputs, continuing through processing, manufacturing and product use, and ending with disposal or recycling.

The company is deeply committed to using recycled content in building materials  and demonstrates their commitment through a multipronged approach.  A key strategy is to include or increase content of recycled materials in its products and packaging, either in initial design or through continuous improvement.  Recycled content is validated  through third-party verification bodies that provide documentation for use in green building programs such as LEED®.  Additionally, OC strives to educate customers and consumers on the value of recycling in reducing landfill waste and saving resources and energy.

Building science plays a vital role in advancing environmental sustainability across a wide spectrum of disciplines. Since 2010, Owens Corning’s Building Science Solution Center has been a 24/7 portal connecting architects to emerging research, best practices, and thought leadership, helping to improve building performance and comfort.

One of the primary performance goals for the building science team has been to support the design and construction of net-zero-energy (NZE)-ready buildings. An NZE building has zero annual net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy the building produces equals the amount of energy it consumes.  The company voluntarily shares its building science expertise with the industry, helping to elevate knowledge about improving efficiency and creating comfortable structures. The OC team conducts education sessions to help engineers, builders, contractors, and homeowners look at the total build and find ways to improve sustainability.

Fostering responsible innovation through products, processes and building science  enables Owens Corning to play a leading role in addressing some of today’s most significant global environmental challenges, while raising the quality of life for millions around the globe.


Johns Manville:

“Without question, Johns Manville has embraced sustainability. Through our building science innovation and partnerships with leading sustainability organizations, we continue to be a leader in sustainable building and specialty materials. We’re proud of the fact that as an energy-minded company, many of our products contribute to creating environments that are energy efficient, comfortable, and safe.”  

Bob Wamboldt, President of Insulation Systems, Johns Manville

Many of JM’s sustainability goals are focused on reducing its environmental footprint while making a positive contribution to society.  For example, the JM fiberglass insulation manufacturing process incorporates an average of more than 30% recycled content throughout North America. This recycled content is certified by Scientific Certification Systems, SCS Global, and it includes an average of over 29% post-consumer recycled content used to manufacture JM’s fiberglass every year.

Sustainability also incorporates manufacturing efficiency, and JM remains committed to maintaining energy efficient operating practices. In 2017, product demand required JM to increase its manufacturing rate. JM was able to increase its production to meet growing demand with a marginal increase in energy usage, while simultaneously decreasing its energy intensity.

JM embeds energy-efficient improvements and practices into all areas of its business to optimize resources. Energy efficiency is monitored on a monthly basis in order to better understand energy consumption and identify where efficiency can be improved. Ongoing investments in research and development, manufacturing machinery, operational processes, and employee behavior continue to be key drivers toward conducting more energy-efficient operations.

As an insulation manufacturer, JM also recognizes that it can help communities become more energy efficient. That is why JM offers comprehensive assessments of the environmental impact of its products, called Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). An EPD accounts for the energy consumption and energy savings throughout the entire life-cycle of a product, from the raw material acquisition to the disposal of the product at the end of its life-cycle. EPDs are a crucial step toward promoting and supporting product transparency. They are critical in allowing industry professionals and end-users to determine which products are the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Even with the most recent advancements in technology, like solar and wind-power, focusing on energy efficiency construction is still one of the most cost-effective ways to live sustainability. By providing materials like insulation, endorsing product transparency, and continuing to invest in and explore energy efficient operations, JM is helping usher our communities into a more sustainable future.

CertainTeed, Insulation Division:

“Fiberglass insulation in and of itself is one of the most sustainable products in the world, conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and paying back its original investment over and over again during the life of the building. Sustainability is part of our DNA at CertainTeed, reflected in everything from the design of our products and solutions to how we operate our manufacturing facilities and office buildings.”

Andrew Goldberg, Vice President of Marketing for CertainTeed’s Insulation Division.

CertainTeed has helped shape the building products industry for more than 110 years, developing products that are both innovative and sustainable. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, CertainTeed® is North America’s leading brand of exterior and interior building products. Saint-Gobain, a multinational corporation and CertainTeed’s parent company, is the world’s largest manufacturer of building and technical insulation products.

CertainTeed aspires to be North America’s recognized leader in sustainable habitat and product transparency through the issuance of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs). CertainTeed’s building products are reviewed through a rigorous stewardship process, which assesses and scores their level of sustainability. The company’s newest rating tool, SCORE, measures 21 indicators across five environmental impact categories (energy/climate impact, health, materials/circularity, water consumption, and local value creation); encouraging eco-innovation and ensuring sustainability is at the core of all CertainTeed products.

All of CertainTeed’s SUSTAINABLE INSULATION® products are GREENGUARD Gold certified, ensuring those products are acceptable for use in sensitive environments such as schools and healthcare facilities. CertainTeed’s fiberglass insulation products can also help buildings qualify for LEED® credits through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), as well as for credits through Home Innovation Research Lab’s National Green Building Standard (NGBS) and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

Following CertainTeed’s ongoing commitment to water conservation, many of CertainTeed’s most popular insulation products are manufactured using closed-looped water systems. Highly compressed packaging in most of its products and strategically located distribution centers allow CertainTeed to minimize transport and fuel emissions.

“CertainTeed’s commitment to research and sustainability is ongoing,” said Dennis Wilson, CertainTeed’s director of sustainability and EHS (environmental health and safety). “We gather data and use that information to substantively improve our products, lower their environmental impact and create local value.”

Knauf Insulation:

“Knauf Insulation will continue to be a leader in sustainable thermal and acoustical fiberglass insulation.”

Matthew Parrish, President and CEO of Knauf Insulation North America 

Knauf Insulation North America is a leading family-owned global manufacturer of thermal and acoustical fiberglass insulation for residential, commercial, industrial and OEM applications. It’s Knauf’s mission to challenge conventional thinking and create innovative solutions that shape the way we live and build in the future, with care for the people who make them, the people who use them and for the world we live in.

Knauf Insulation has been the sustainability thought leader in the insulation industry starting in 2002 when they became the first manufacturer to obtain GREENGUARD certification for indoor air quality. In 2006, Knauf discovered that using post-consumer recycled glass, when properly cleaned, offers extremely large energy savings in the manufacturing process. Driven by LEED green building standards, Knauf quickly began the certification process of our recycled content level. Since then, Knauf’s post-consumer recycled level quickly rose to 60% and today often exceeds that percentage. Each day, 11 railcars or nearly one million post-consumer bottles of recycled glass are delivered to our manufacturing plants

In 2009 Knauf introduced ECOSE® Technology, a revolutionary, more sustainable binder technology born from five years of intensive research and development. ECOSE Technology features rapidly renewable bio-based materials rather than non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals such as phenol, formaldehyde and acrylics commonly used in traditional fiber glass insulation products. ECOSE had a transformative impact on the entire industry and placed Knauf’s products on everyone’s green building list as they are clearly differentiated in the marketplace. Currently, Knauf is the only insulation manufacturer whose entire line of products, both commercial and residential applications, are formaldehyde- free.

“In looking to leave our mark on the world, our first aim is to leave none,” reports Matthew Parrish. “Sustainability isn’t a page in our annual report. Something to be covered off for the good of investors. At Knauf, sustainability is the driving force behind our innovations. How can we do better for the world we live in? It’s a question we never stop asking ourselves. Which is why we look at every aspect of what we do—from sourcing to manufacturing to supply chain—to continually improve both what we do and how we do it.”



“Our products have an important role to play in solving some of society’s biggest challenges, especially related to climate change and urbanization. At the same time, our focus is on improving the environmental and safety performance of our operations and robustness of our internal processes to reduce our footprint and ensure that Rockwool continues to have a positive impact on society and the environment”.

Jens Birgersson, CEO 

Rockwool is dedicated to enriching modern living.  The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) steer the company’s ambitions in pursuing those sustainability goals that have the greatest impact on people and society and are most aligned with their business competencies.

Sustainable product impacts.  Rockwool makes the most significant positive impact on sustainable development through the use of its products. Rockwool products not only improve the health and wellbeing of people but they also equip them with solutions to combat climate change. Collaborating with different partners and organizations, Rockwool develops methodologies to measure and quantify product impact, in order to measure progress against the Sustainable Development Goals.

Circularity and recycling.  Embracing circularity minimizes resource consumption and waste to landfill.  Rockwool’s circular business model helps the company turn waste into new raw materials and take back and recycle construction site waste and used products. The technologies that create Rockwool products also enable them to use waste from other industries as a raw material.  They recycle their our own waste from production and upcycle secondary materials from other industries. Recycling services are in place to collect used products to recycle, providing others with resources to help reduce waste-to-landfill.

Sustainable operations. While the company makes the most significant positive impact on sustainable development through the use of its products, it is just as important to achieve this while operating in a responsible and sustainable way. Rockwool has five operational goals across energy, climate, water, waste and safety to track performance and keep them accountable to customers, colleagues and communities. The sixth goal is their reclaimed waste goal, to set up recycling services in even more countries. Together these six goals have been designed to drive progress on the SDGs by reducing the negative impact from operations on material issues

This year, Rockwool was one of the first companies to be assessed by the Trucost SDG Evaluation Tool, which quantitatively analyzes a company’s performance on the SDGs. Rockwool achieved the highest score, with 100 percent of the Group’s products being classified as SDG positive.


Featured in ESICA Review 2019 Volume 2.