For many of us, Earth Day – April 22nd – is celebrated with a tribute to all things green. In reality, the day also marks the anniversary of what may be considered the birth of the modern environmental movement. The first Earth Day in 1970 capitalized on an emerging American consciousness on the environment and preventing water and air pollution. Over 20 million Americans demonstrated their commitment to a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies on the first Earth Day. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues to the world stage.
Today, sustainability is much more than “going green.” And, it’s more than a personal commitment. It’s a way of doing business that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. That means efficient use of natural resources, minimizing waste and protecting the environment.
Homeowners may not realize that sustainability goals can be as important as profitability goals for today’s businesses. In addition to meeting consumer demand for greener products, Masonite International Corporation recognizes that environmental stewardship and operational efficiencies often go hand-in-hand.
Recycling, reusing, repurposing
As overall awareness of global environmental conditions grew and demand for more environmentally-friendly products increased, door manufacturers began looking for ways to use resources more efficiently while recycling, reusing, and repurposing materials.
Choose doors made from renewable resources. Today there are sustainable alternatives to solid wood doors. Wherever possible, Masonite is using recycled materials in the manufacture of its doors. Examples of components that have pre-consumer recycled content are interior molded door facings, wheatcore, particleboard and fiber products. Safe ‘N Sound and Safe ‘N Sound Emerald doors are manufactured with DorCor, which is produced from rapidly renewable wheat straw/fiber. The molded door facing used in these products as well as the Hollow Core Emerald contain post-industrial wood chips as a key ingredient. The use of recycled material reduces the amount of trees harvested and repurposes materials that would otherwise be diverted to landfills.
Indoor air quality – Low emissions. To improve indoor air quality, Masonite uses adhesives in the door assembly of Safe ‘N Sound, Safe ‘N Sound Emerald and Hollow Core Emerald that contain low levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds). In addition, no urea formaldehyde is used in Safe ‘N Sound Emerald or Hollow Core Emerald manufacturing process. All adhesives and binders used are urea-formaldehyde free.
Byproducts benefit the environment. Finding new uses for manufacturing byproducts benefits the environment while reducing disposal expense, and in some instances, can even help other businesses and the community. Marshfield DoorSystems provides AgRite, a waste lime from its mineral core manufacturing process, to local farmers to amend the soil through a regulated program based upon specific material criteria. Farmers benefit through increased crop yields, and the company does not have to landfill a manufacturing byproduct. Byproducts such as dewatered fiber and wood ash from other Masonite manufacturing operations are also permitted for beneficial use as compost or soil amendment.
Finding better ways
Finding better ways of doing things and looking ahead to the future is also an important aspect of sustainability, especially as environmental regulations continue to increase and the market seeks efficient, cost effective solutions. Higher costs for some species of wood require manufacturers to seek alternative door facings and develop composite materials to utilize as product components.
To help find answers that meet the needs of the construction industry, researchers at the Masonite Innovation Center in West Chicago are concentrating on advanced polymers, coatings, and wood sciences, product design, new product innovation, and continuous improvement. Additional focus is given to specifying, manufacturing, and installation processes that help add efficiency, time savings, and maximizing the use of available resources. For example, these researchers have assisted the company in meeting the CARB (California) requirements for formaldehyde emissions, recalculating and measuring the construction requirements and product performance, allowing the company to comply with industry standards in its multiple manufacturing facilities.
Innovations and advances in manufacturing technology will be in ever more increasing demand as manufacturers work to ensure that their customers receive quality products that meet or exceed a multitude of industry standards, building codes, third-party certifications and green building certification programs such as LEED, the National Green Building Program sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, and product emission certifications such as the Scientific Certification Systems Indoor Advantage™ certification.
A continuous effort
Delivering quality products and solutions that meet customer needs while maintaining responsibility to the environment is a challenge for any manufacturer, but it’s an ongoing effort where every small step can make a difference. Masonite recently relocated its corporate headquarters in Tampa, Florida, into the first multi-tenant building in the city to be awarded LEED Gold Certification. The building maintains open spaces and manages water efficiency, energy consumption, air quality, solid waste, and more. Beyond headquarters, the company’s 8,000 employees are constantly seeking better ways to work while serving customers.
“We believe that every company in our industry must work to evolve its sustainability business model,” said Tom Crawshaw, Sr. Corporate Environmental Engineer for Masonite. “At Masonite, we see sustainability as an integral part of everything we do. Operating a sustainable and profitable business is an ongoing process, one where we’ll always find opportunities to improve.”
Sustainability is often referred to as a journey, and it is an effort where the door and hardware industry is making great strides. The challenges are many, but working together to overcome them is essential to finding a path that sustains the requirements of people, planet and profits.