The Winner of the First USGlass Green
Green Process, Green Products, Green
Knowledge, This Company Has It All
Some companies define the term “green” through the products they offer
to assist in creating energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Others
work on reducing their environmental footprint in the manufacturing process,
or promoting these messages to employees and colleagues. To promote all
of these contributions toward making our world a better, healthier place,
USGlass recognizes YKK AP America Inc. in Austell, Ga., as the recipient
of the First USGlass Green Award.
The September issue of USGlass included a list of nominees for its first
Green Awards (see September 2009 USGlass, page 44). Brief explanations
of some of the things that make each company green were included. USGlass
and USGNN.com™ readers then voted for the greenest manufacturer via www.usglassmag.com.
Based on reader votes, we have for you an in-depth look at what one company
does to promote green through its manufacturing process, products and
Creating Efficient Manufacturing Processes
For YKK AP America, green begins with the manufacturing process itself—which
for this company began with the worldwide group’s global environmental
charter, written in 1994. Among other things, it has driven each of its
manufacturing plants to be ISO 14001-certified. The Dublin, Ga., facility
received the second renewal of its ISO 14001 certification in July 2009.
“That’s a global position for the corporation, to have all of their plants
around the world to be environmentally certified,” explains Oliver Stepe,
senior vice president of YKK AP America Inc.
To earn this certification, the Dublin plant recycles 100-percent of aluminum
waste onsite and captures 93 percent of solvent emissions from its paint
line. It uses advanced wastewater treatment methods, has reduced gas usage
and has goals for further emissions reduction.
In 2007, YKK AP was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
as an “Energy Saver” plant. The DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program
(ITP) recognizes U.S. manufacturing plants for implementing recommendations
identified during “Save Energy Now” energy assessments and for achieving
significant energy savings. One reason the facility earned this recognition
was for improvements to its process for melting and casting aluminum billet.
In this process the company uses natural gas to melt down aluminum and
create 60603 alloy. Through an internal research project, and in cooperation
with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the company identified technologies
that could be added to its manufacturing process to save natural gas.
“We melt and cast our own billets from raw aluminum and that is a natural
gas consumer, that particular process,” Stepe explains. “At the end of
2006 we installed a regeneration burner … That actually saved, in one
year, 40 percent on our natural gas consumption, so it’s a pretty big
impact. That was the year we overall reduced the energy consumption in
our plant by nearly 10 percent.”
He adds that one of the biggest benefits of the Energy Saver program is
that it is a resource for manufacturers.
“They work with manufacturers on ideas on how to save energy, so they’re
fairly proactive in it, and if you adopt recommendations then you can
attempt to get the recognition,” Stepe says.
For more information on being an Energy Saver, visit www.eere.energy.gov.
Energy Efficiency Through Products
Those green manufacturing processes lead up to the main attraction, an
array of products that promote energy-efficiency. YKK AP America launched
recently the enerGfacade™ family of products to promote energy-efficiency.
In addition, the company was the first fenestration system producer to
receive Cradle to CradleSM (C2C) certification of a product for its ThermaShade™
According to MBDC, the product and process design firm that manages C2C,
the certification provides companies with a means to tangibly, credibly
measure achievement in environmentally intelligent design. If a product
achieves the necessary criteria, it is certified as a Basic, Silver, Gold
or Platinum certified product.
“C2C specifically is being recognized under the innovation category in
the LEED rating system,” Stepe adds. However, he cautions, “LEED has not
strongly adopted C2C—yet.”
C2C was one of the first programs to emerge to validate manufacturers’
claims of a product’s “greenness,” a classification without clear characteristics.
But as Stepe points out, “There are many different parties currently vying
for validating the green space … It’s an interesting phenomenon in that
you’ve got a lot of organizations vying to be the watchdog of green claims.
We have to sit back and watch who’s going to position themselves most
Stepe notes that YKK AP America’s next steps in product developments will
hinge upon the codes that are adopted to promote further energy efficiency.
“The amount of momentum that is occurring from the government level down
to reduce energy consumption is the most significant I’ve seen in my time
in the industry, and there’s going to be a continuous push through codes
to reduce the U-values of fenestration systems,” Stepe says. “What we’re
focused on right now is identifying the future codes … Once those codes
become clearer, we’ll focus more effort on advancing the thermal technology
of the product to meet the code.”
Educating Employees on Green
YKK AP America also promotes the green message to its employees by encouraging
LEED AP accreditation.
“In 2009, YKK AP realized the benefits of having our employees well-versed
in green design and construction and added the LEED AP accreditation to
our sales career development plan,” explains Tom Minnon, LEED AP. Minnon
is the in-house trainer and study group facilitator for helping employees
achieve this accreditation. In 2009 he held a training program that consisted
of weekly audio conferences for 10 consecutive weeks prior to the LEED
AP exam. Each session consisted of taking practice exam questions and
“By achieving LEED AP status, salespeople are eligible for advancement
to YKK AP’s senior account manager level. So far, we’ve had seven employees
successfully pass the LEED AP exam,“ Minnon explains.
The LEED AP credentials are a qualifier for the company’s senior-most
level of sales representative, senior account manager.
Phil Blizzard, LEED AP, participated in the study group and likewise attained
his certification this summer. “I was very pleased to see the company
support employees who expressed an interest in becoming LEED AP’s by making
information, study materials and study time available to us,” Blizzard
says. He adds, “YKK AP recognizes the attributes of green design and encourages
us to understand how our products can contribute to the LEED green building
rating system and help preserve the natural environment for ourselves
and future generations.”
If your company wasn’t nominated this year but you believe it should be
considered next year,
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