Beyond Just Green: BSF Takes Window Film to Carbon Negative StatusMay 27th, 2010 by Editor
These days, it’s not uncommon to hear discussions that focus on topics of being carbon negative and having a carbon footprint. But just what, exactly, does this all mean? Simply put, carbon negative is when the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with an organizational unit, product, service or process are zero, while a carbon negative footprint for a product, for instance, is when the total carbon used and saved throughout its life cycle is negative.
Just last week Bekaert Specialty Films (BSF) announced that its Solar Gard and Panorama window film products have now been shown to be carbon negative and the company says it is the first to measure and report the carbon footprint of its products (CLICK HERE to read that article). Kathryn Giblin, vice president of global marketing for BSF, took some time to talk with WINDOW FILM magazine about the company’s decision to pursue and measure the carbon footprint of its products.
WFM: Why did you decide to measure the carbon footprint of your window films?
KG: Our commitment to environmental responsibility has become a core value at BSF. We feel very strongly about this. Having the impact of our films measured was a very necessary and logical next step. If you are going to sell your product as an energy savings product, you need to know its impact and the customer really needs to know what’s involved.
WFM: What is actually involved, logistically, with measuring a carbon footprint? Take us through the process.
KG: The goal was to achieve a climate declaration, an internationally recognized statement about the green¬house gas emissions associated with a product, also known as a product’s carbon footprint. We hired a firm that specializes in providing such analysis. The analysis done was specific to our films as they are installed, and to our processes, distribution, recycling—every part of the process. It was quite a process. We had to choose a third party company and then had to choose the procedure to follow; we chose the ISO 14025 process. A third-party conducted life cycle analysis. We provided them with tons of data from raw materials, manufacturing data, destruction information–everything from design, slitting etc. We included product use and energy savings calculated for multiple films in multiple regions. We calculated very conservatively and provided massive amounts of data. It was a two-year process.
WFM: Did you make any changes as a result of the process?
KG: One of the things the audit has done is helped us identify and reduce energy costs. Remember, we manufacture in the United States and in California particularly, which already has very stringent requirements for environment. We have been making changes and put continuous improvement in a variety of areas as part of our environmental management system. We achieved ISO 14001:2004 certification last year.
WFM: Why did BSF decide to do this?
KG: We felt it was necessary in order to be able to say ‘window film will save energy.’ If someone asks us ‘does window film really save energy? Does it really reduce our carbon impact?’ we wanted to have the answer. We wanted to be able to say to our customers that when you are making a decision to buy window film we can tell you unequivocally it will have a negative carbon footprint.
If we want to really capture minds of the influencers and purchasers, then we needed to know what the real carbon footprint was.
WFM: How has the reaction been?
KG: It’s been great and the impact is enormous. From Mark LaFrance, with the Department of Energy, the Obama administration … it’s been very positive. Window film has gained a great deal of legitimacy as a result of the process. We are the only window film manufacturer thus far to do this. We would encourage other window film manufacturers that are touting energy savings to do it.
WFM: Is this a certification program similar to, let’s say, NFRC?
KG: No, it’s not like NFRC. We have obtained our climate declaration but there is no recognized formal certification. We are, however, being asked more and more by large corporations if we know the net carbon effect. We are being asked specifically by companies that have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint if we know the carbon footprint of our products. Now we can answer it and it’s an audited answer.
WFM: How are you making your dealers aware of this carbon neutrality?
KG: We’ve had a week of global press launches. We will provide dealers with marketing campaigns and a whole slew of tools training programs. And, we are developing programs to help build awareness among our architects, engineers and state and federal legislators.
WFM: What surprised you about the process?
KG: This has been a great experience for us as a company and we have learned a lot about ourselves. We’ve been delighted by the response from U.S. Green Building Council, NFRC and American Institute of Architects—architects and engineers are really excited and are keen to learn more and get on board. People really want this.
And, if we really want to grow the market, it’s necessary. We, as an industry, have less than 1 percent market penetration of the 49 billion square feet of glazing. Even if we can grow this by 1 percent, it will be huge.
WFM: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
KG: There is so much opportunity out there in this industry. Dealers should challenge their manufacturers to grow the market, and dealers should partner with manufacturers that will look after the interests of the industry in the future.