As Owens Corning likes to say, pink is green.
The Toledo-based company has sold products that have helped homes and businesses become more energy-efficient since 1938. That’s more than three decades before the first Earth Day in 1970 ushered in the modern environmental era and long before the world knew what greenhouse gases were or gave a second thought about them.
The company’s biggest contribution toward keeping energy costs — and ultimately climate-altering emissions — under control begins with the product affiliated with its famous Pink Panther advertising campaign: attic insulation.
All types of insulation, including foam and loose, blown-in insulation, play a role in holding down energy costs. According to OC, a typical pound of insulation saves 12 times as much energy in its first year in place as the energy used to make it.
But in 2011, OC entered a new era with the introduction of its EcoTouch insulation that has its patented PureFiber technology.
It was one of the biggest innovations in the insulation industry, which for 70 years had used binders made of formaldehyde or petrochemicals in the glue holding glass fibers together.
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EcoTouch insulation is made of 99 percent natural materials, including plant-based resins, said Gale Tedhams, OC’s product and supply chain sustainability director.
In addition to being safer and more eco-friendly, the latest type of insulation is easier to cut, easier to fit into tight spaces, and softer to touch, she said.
“We had been looking for opportunities to change the formula to remove the formaldehyde,” Ms. Tedhams said. “It’s part of the whole commitment to sustainability.”
Making homes and businesses more energy efficient starts with sealing up cracks and making them more air-tight while allowing the buildings to still breathe, Ms. Tedhams said.
Many people don’t realize buildings are America’s largest energy users, consuming 40 percent of the nation’s energy and 70 percent of its electricity, she said.
“It drives us crazy when people want to put a solar panel on a house that’s not already energy-efficient,” Ms. Tedhams said.
Bill Decker, Sr., president of Decker Homes Inc., of Lambertville, one of the Toledo area’s leaders in energy-efficient home designs, is among OC’s fans.
He said the company is a key player in the latest trend toward greener buildings, one driven by a combination of concerns about the environment, costs, and future energy supplies.
“It’s here to stay. It’s never going back,” Mr. Decker said of the emphasis on conservation, a trend he described as “the next Holy Grail.”
Conservation has received more attention in recent years after about three decades of indifference following the energy crisis of the 1970s.
Mr. Decker said he has seen a sustained commitment from OC, a company he’s done business with for 32 years.
“They’ve been great to work with,” Mr. Decker said. “They have done a great service to the nation.”
OC makes a contribution to the environment in another big way: The company is one of the world’s largest users of recycled glass.
Think of the glass bottles you put on your curb to be recycled. OC uses more than 1 billion pounds of that recycled glass each year.
Another way OC helps the environment is through its composite material made of glass and plastic. It is “one of the largest suppliers of fibers for wind turbine blades,” Ms. Tedhams said.
Most homeowners don’t have wind turbines, but many of them have roof shingles produced by OC.
The company’s higher-end shingles, popular in the hot and sunny Southwest, reflect sunlight to minimize heat that is absorbed by roofs, Ms. Tedhams said.
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The composite material is designed to last.
“Durability is a real big part of sustainability,” Ms. Tedhams said.
The company claims to be the first roofing manufacturer to establish a program for recycling shingles.
OC, a Fortune 500 company for 57 years, has been listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index four consecutive years. It is on target to meet many of its 2020 emission-reduction goals, company officials said.
On Oct. 15, OC announced the completion of a commercial-scale, 2.7-megawatt solar energy project in Feura Bush, N.Y., a project it has undertaken with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Constellation Energy.
The project consists of 9,000 ground-mounted, solar panels on more than nine acres. It is expected to generate enough electricity to offset 2,339 metric tons of carbon dioxide generated by more conventional means. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the annual pollution output of 487 passenger vehicles.
“Owens Corning is committed to helping solve the world’s most pressing energy and climate challenges, and we are constantly seeking solutions that will materially contribute. This solar project represents our continuing efforts to implement programs that advance our 2020 Environmental Footprint Goals, and we are proud to be part of a project that helps protect New York State’s environment,” said Frank O'Brien-Bernini, OC vice president and chief sustainability officer.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6079.