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Published: Tuesday, 7/2/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Owens Corning reducing its carbon footprint

Toledo firm meets sustainability goals

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Owens Corning achieved all seven of its 10-year sustainability goals by 2012 and has set out to build on that success by further reducing its carbon footprint by 2020.

The Toledo-based building-materials manufacturer announced last week that it initiated and completed several greenhouse gas reduction projects, is conducting a global water-stress assessment for its operations, and released environmental product declarations for fiberglass insulation in North America.

“I’m sure you're well aware of the issues of climate change and the desire globally to reduce greenhouse gases. Virtually all climate scientists think that’s a real danger zone for increasing global temperatures,” said Frank O'Brien-Bernini, vice president and chief sustainability officer of Owens Corning.

To reduce greenhouse gases, the company is investing in projects aimed at diesel-to-natural gas transportation fuel-switching, fuel cells, waste heat recovery, biomass, solar, and combined heat and power. Mr. O’Brien-Bernini said the company exceeded the greenhouse gas goal it set for the last decade and hopes to do the same in the future.

“We got a 34 percent reduction over that 10-year period ending in 2012,” he said. “Our efforts were a combination of what matters most to the world and where we have the capability to make an impact.”

Owens Corning is partnering with The World Resources Institute on its Aqueduct project for the company’s global water stress assessment. Water is one of the largest areas in which Owens Corning can have a positive impact, Mr. O’Brien-Bernini said.

The project will target water-stressed regions of the world. It aims to reduce the company’s water usage by 35 percent.

“There can be problems when there is too little water and when there is too much water,” Mr. O’Brien-Bernini said, adding that Owens Corning wanted to partner with another organization to aid its efforts.

The company also is making it easier for consumers to see what products are environmentally friendly. The environmental product declarations for fiberglass will give an apples-to-apples comparison of how eco-friendly a product is, Mr. O’Brien-Bernini said.

“It creates this equivalent of a nutritional label for products,” he said.

Other areas the company is targeting or has improved upon include the following:

● Donating enough insulation and roofing material to re-roof 283 homes and insulate more than 1,000 homes

● Achieved more than 60 percent shingle recycling availability

● Achieved a listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for a third year

● Achieved its 11th straight year of safety improvement.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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