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In relative terms, the embodied energy of our products is much lower when compared to most other building materials including glass, steel, aluminum, concrete, paint, plastic and others. However, we continuously strive to reduce our carbon footprint. Our near-term priorities include the following:
All these yield a reduced carbon footprint of our products. We have effectively reduced our energy requirements steadily over the past 100 years while also converting to cleaner burning fuels such as natural gas. Moving forward, we will continue to reduce our energy needs while also evaluating alternative low-carbon energy sources.
In fact, we installed an 8-acre, one megawatt photovoltaic (PV) system at our Plaster City, CA plant location (photo above).
Additionally, we understand that energy consumed during the manufacturing process is not the entire story, while it is the largest contribution to our products’ carbon footprint. To understand the full environmental impact of our products we use life cycle assessment (LCA) tools to evaluate all impacts including the carbon footprint of our products from “cradle to grave”. Looking beyond our four walls allows us to consider the energy requirements associated with raw materials, transportation, end-use and the end-of-life of our products. With this more comprehensive viewpoint, we are able to make improvements in the areas with the greatest impact.
There are many positive benefits in reducing the carbon footprint of a building. Lowering a single product’s impact will improve a building’s footprint. It is estimated that buildings account for the single largest use of energy in North America and that buildings, both operational and materials energy, produce a large amount of by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Slowing the growth rate of GHG emissions and then reversing it is the key to addressing climate change and keeping global average temperature at sustainable levels. The Architecture 2030 Challenge identifies these facts and encourages the reduction of fossil fuel consumption in buildings through design and building products’ embodied carbon-equivalent footprint. For more information on this challenge visit www.Architecture2030.org. USG has adopted the Architecture 2030 For Products for our Ceilings & Drywall Divisions.
The reporting of a product’s environmental impacts including carbon footprint is called “Environmental Product Declaration” (EPD). An EPD is the executive summary of a product’s Life Cycle Assessment. For more information on the environmental impacts of USG products review our Environmental Product Declarations (EPD).