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 Steve Revnew, vice president of product development at The Sherwin-Williams Company, about the company's approach to sustainability and for Revnew's thoughts on the path ahead.
The Sherwin-Williams Company's sustainability mission states that the company "is committed to being a recognized leader in the development of sustainable processes, products, and activities that preserve natural resources, protect the environment, and contribute to social improvement." How would you summarize the company's approach to this?
Our mission is to supply the highest value coating products and services in the world. To accomplish this, we develop and acquire the appropriate resources to continuously improve the performance of our products, services, and people. Over the course of many years we've added the environment to that. We're always looking for ways to not only do what's right but also looking at what we can do to minimize our impact on the environment. It's our goal to leave the world in a better place than we found it.
[Click here to access Sherwin-Williams' corporate social responsibility report.]
What are some of the key goals for Huber in this realm and what kinds of metrics are you using to measure progress?
We look at various metrics to determine our progress. We certainly consider whether a site is certified in accordance with ISO 14001 standards and VOC emissions during manufacturing. We analyze total CO2 performance with an eye on continuously reducing the amount of CO2 gas per hundred pounds of total production. We evaluate hazardous waste treatment and disposal, as well as hazardous materials reuse and recycling. One thing we're proud of is that we have zero-discharge plants, from the manufacturing process to the operations perspective. We look at how our employees are engaged, as we see that as a significant aspect as well.
We also look at how we can have a positive effect on the areas where we are involved. We are very active in the communities where we have a presence, and we report out our charitable giving as a metric. Our community involvement ranges from serving on charitable boards to repainting low-income houses for those people who are in need. We have grassroots efforts to help improve the lives in our communities, and that's a big aspect of our corporate culture that falls under the sustainability umbrella.
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?
From a manufacturing standpoint, we have taken a holistic approach toward sustainability efforts. This means we constantly evaluate how we can reduce any type of consumption, whether it's in our fleet that is delivering product, our manufacturing processes, or our waste streams.
From a product standpoint, we go beyond meeting green building standards, to how we can exceed them. The majority of our products meet the most stringent VOC regulations in the country, and we are constantly looking for ways to bring new products into the marketplace that have reduced impact on the environment, as well as longer lasting performance.
We are very involved in green building standard development, with executives actively engaged on committees and helping to implement programs.
Finally, we ensure that our sales and marketing teams are as involved as our product development and manufacturing teams in these discussions, a further demonstration of our holistic approach.
What do you think are one or two of the biggest challenges facing sustainable product manufacturing between now and 2020?
There are several challenges that the industry is currently facing. First, we are finding that standards are ahead of technological advancements. Secondly, the numerous green building standards are fragmented. Which one do you pay attention to the most? While the USGBC encourages the industry to follow LEED, local municipalities and states have other mandates.
A growing challenge is transparency. Manufacturers are trying to provide the information that customers are seeking, while also preserving and protecting the company's intellectual property.
Finally, educating everyone involved in sustainability efforts can take time and resources. The knowledge base ranges from very basic to extremely informed. We have to provide materials and content that meets somewhere in the middle, and work with clients to help them understand what is a priority to know and what key questions they should be asking.
With all of these challenges, it becomes a balancing act to ensure that you're focused on the right thing. The best approach for our company is to always strive to exceed the highest standards.
How can high-performance building professionals help drive sustainability in your company?
Partnership is key. Many professionals are already working with us and actively involved in this discussions. We extensively engage with our customers to understand their challenges and where we can provide support. Collaboration is critical to understanding one another's capabilities, as well as to gaining alignment to drive sustainability together.
This article has been updated since its original posting.
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.