Vol. 2 2010 – Green manufacturing process

Green Manufacturing Overview

North Americans are making a conscious effort to use green products. Given this fact, many manufacturers are making claims that they are involved in the green movement in order to profit from this trend. Here are some actual initiatives that have been undertaken by plumbing industry manufacturers to lessen the environmental impact of their carbon footprint.

Third Party Certification Programs

The adaptation of third party certification programs is useful in defining and maintaining the standards that prove the authenticity of a manufacturer’s claim to being ‘green’. Cradle-to-Cradle Certification is a program widely recognized by the commercial building industry in North America. This program calculates the ‘greeness’ of a product by tangible metrics. The four levels of achievement (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Basic) evaluate a product’s material ingredients, reutilization plans, energy source, water use and social responsibility.

Manufacturers such as Sloan Valve Company and Mission Rubber Company have obtained the Cradle-to-Cradle Silver Certification for some of their products and are working towards extending the certification to a broader product offering.

On an international level, the ISO 14000 family addresses various aspects of environmental management. To comply with this standard, a manufacturer must identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services, continually improve its environmental performance, and must implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, achieve these targets, and demonstrate how they have been achieved.
For decades, Kindred Commercial has been implementing practices that demonstrate their stewardship to the environment. This commitment enabled them to achieve the ISO 14001:2004 certification, further validating their ongoing dedication and environmental concern.

Contributions to Non-profit Green Organizations

There’s more to Green Manufacturing than simply taking ‘sensible’ resources from the environment. Manufacturers can also show support for the green movement by making contributions to non-profit green organizations. These charitable donations can assist with an organization’s efforts towards raising awareness on issues, research, and help these organizations fight for legislative priorities regarding conservation to protect our natural resources. For example, Industry leader American Standard Brands has partnered with The Nature Conservancy on a two-year mission to create awareness of how consumers can conserve water.

Product Life Cycle

A sustainable product and life cycle begins with the use of recycled content, continues with the implementation of a remanufacturing process, and is completed with the development of recycling plans for any product residue. With the commitment to building ‘green’, Sloan Valve Company undertook an extensive recycling process to lessen the impact their foundries have on local environments. All of their flushometers are made from approximately 80% semi-red brass cast alloy, 99% of which is from recycled sources and 100% recyclable. Likewise, Jay R. Smith MFG. Co., a major drainage manufacturer, uses mainly scrap materials for their products and, through this effort, saves neighbourhood landfills from 13 million tons of waste material each year. In addition, all of their castings are sand castings. By using this casting method, only 6% of materials are discarded, with much of it is reused in other projects such as cement manufacturing, road barriers, bricks and pavers, asphalt and construction fill, further minimizing environmental impact.

Energy and Water Usage

Aside from waste that is emitted during the manufacturing process, the excessive use of energy and water can result in severe environmental damage. Sloan has demonstrated its attention to energy reduction with a landmark purchase of renewable energy credits that offset 100 percent of the electricity used in their Franklin Park, Ill., manufacturing facility – making it the largest renewable energy purchase in the plumbing industry and the largest corporate purchase of renewable energy in the state of Illinois. Underscoring this long-standing commitment to renewable energy, Sloan recently installed two wind turbines and a solar array on the roof of its headquarters.

In today’s advanced business environment, it is no surprise that many manufacturers are adopting techniques that maintain sustainability. The next time you specify, consider the facts and actual initiatives being undertaken by each manufacturer to support the green movement.



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