CertainTeed and Warden Electric develop holistic sustainability effort
Conversion of power plant to biomass enables the two companies to work together on a three-pronged sustainability project involving green fuel production and materials recycling.
When L'Anse, MI-based Warden Electric Company recentlybought an existing power plant and converted it from coal, oil, and natural gasfuel to a biomass-powered plant, management at both the power company andCertainTeed saw an opportunity to leverage their close proximity and resourcesto benefit each other and the environment.
The partnership between CertainTeed and Warden involves three elements:
- convertingWarden's plant to green biomass fuel was the first in a string of environmentalwins for both companies;
- excesssteam generated at the power plant is channeled to CertainTeed for use inits production of mineral fiber ceiling tiles, displacing the use ofnatural gas, previously used to run the product dryers; and
- CertainTeedprovides scrap generated in its production process to the power plant tobe burned for additional green biomass input.
"The materials we burn for green energy today -- 400 tons per
day --used to go to landfills. Today they are diverted from landfills to
produce additional green energy resources for public use," says Mike Reid,
general manager/chief operating officer, L'Anse Warden Electric Power.
In addition to the Warden relationship, CertainTeed also has a number of otherenvironmental initiatives in play in L'Anse. For instance, CertainTeed divertsinert sludge from being sent to landfills by filtering it through threesettling ponds. Clean water filtered through the settling ponds is used toirrigate an approximately 120-acre spray field. The residual organic matterthat settles in the ponds is used as fertilizer for farming operations. In2008, more than 7,600 tons of inert material was converted for use asfertilizer.
CertainTeed also uses recycled content in product manufacturing and offers anend-of-life ceiling tile recycling program. Old panels are transported to themanufacturing plant where they are mixed with water, broken down into slurryand used to supplement virgin material in the manufacturing of new ceilingproducts.
As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, CertainTeed Ceilings is considereda leader in the effort to provide building materials that promote sustainabledesign. Comprised of high recycled content, CertainTeed ceiling products helpcontribute points toward LEED certification.
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.