A Clearer View of Sustainable Business Practices

How transparency supports business growth for manufacturers
By Sal Abbate, Andersen Corp.
October 16, 2016
FEATURE ARTICLE
A strong market exists for products that are responsibly sourced and conscientiously manufactured. (Image courtesy of Andersen Corp.)

Andersen Corp. partnered with industry peers in developing and publishing the fenestration industry’s first Product Category Rule, which provides the guidelines for reporting a product’s environmental impacts over its lifecycle in an Environmental Product Declaration. Recently, Andersen became the first residential window company to publish an EPD.

Andersen also made public its intention to help combat the growing risks of climate change by signing the Ceres Climate Declaration and by setting measurable sustainability goals for the company to meet by 2020. Most recently, Andersen published its fifth annual Corporate Sustainability Report—an online platform intended to provide even greater visibility into its sustainability performance across the value chain.

Window & Door asked Andersen to share how these public efforts toward sustainability—and especially in putting together the paperwork to define its measures (including a PCR, EPD, CSR, and Ceres declarations)—have benefitted the company. In its experience, what follows is one company’s perspective on why this all matters to the fenestration industry and to customers.

Let’s start with this truth: sustainable business practice is nothing new. Talking about our own environmental footprint is. And, as consumers have grown more aware of how the products they choose for their homes are made, they hesitate to accept any company’s assurances at face value. Instead, they seek out impartial evidence to prove our words are not just words, but measurable proof of promise. That is one reason why Andersen made the deliberate decision to embrace greater transparency about its operations and how its products are made.

In our industry, product transparency provides detailed information that helps architects and engineers design and specify to meet customers’ building performance and sustainability goals. Using an integrated, science-based approach, those experts can predict how a building will perform over its life, also providing an understanding of how different products may affect that performance, for better or worse. This kind of information modeling adds a new dimension of understanding how an entire building’s function can hinge on a few fundamental design elements.

OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS

As Andersen has broadened its embrace of transparency to include sustainability reporting, opportunities have emerged for the company to help support other building innovations, such as our commitment to using solar power to operate portions of our business. Our position as an industry leader has only strengthened through this new discipline.

We know that there is always more we can do to reduce our environmental impact and to bolster quality of life for our customers and communities. The global benefit of this mindset is the continuous improvements that drive progress against our own sustainability goals, as well as help businesses within and outside our industry advance their own sustainability programs.

Driven by architects and commercial customers, a strong market exists for products that are responsibly sourced and conscientiously manufactured. There is a dual benefit found in sustainability reporting that many companies are just discovering. As more of them embrace the idea, this will become the operating norm of the future.

Future success—and future business—hinges on how a company anticipates and meets the consumer's demands before they are articulated. Transparency is already an important differentiator among successful businesses as more consumers demand proof that the products they buy fulfill the promise of the label. Increased transparency through sustainability reporting is what will help those successful companies continue to lead.

Sal Abbate is senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer at Andersen Corp.