How do manufacturers measure impacts? How do we use information to make good decisions?
How can our customers distinguish fact from “greenwash”? Credible evaluations start
with recognized standards that are based on science, developed in an open process,
and well-defined to allow for comparability. Then the research begins. Next come
the decisions about how best to utilize what is being learned. Allsteel has been
on the research path, developing useful tools and looking deeply into our impacts.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)
Allsteel evaluates its products’ environmental impacts using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Life Cycle Assessments are extensive, detailed analyses of a product's environmental impacts over its entire life. LCA looks at a product’s impacts from raw material extraction; material processing; material transportation; product assembly; packaging; distribution; use; and end-of-life disposal.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) were created to provide an understandable report of how a product impacts natural resources, the environment, and the atmosphere. Allsteel’s EPDs are third-party verified, product specific, and can contribute to the LEED V4 credit for Materials and Resources: Building Product Disclosure & Optimization, Environmental Product Declarations, Option 1.
Greenhouse Gases and CO2
The six gases that contribute to global climate change have different potentials
for trapping heat in our atmosphere, otherwise referred to as their Global Warming
Potential (GWP). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most abundant of the six,
and it is used as a measuring device, called CO2-equivalent (CO2-e),
for comparing the warming potentials of the others. Most CO2 emissions
are from the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
Because it is not possible to manage what we haven’t measured, Allsteel has undertaken
an in-depth study of our energy use. We are studying the manufacturing of products
at our own plants, the travel of our members (employees), the transport of raw materials
to us through our supply chains, the delivery of our furniture to our customers,
and the furniture’s ultimate post-consumer fate. Allsteel is utilizing the Greenhouse
Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard developed by
the World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council on Sustainability
Development (WBCSD) to guide the inventory of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Wise Energy Choices
Investing in renewable energy requires serious evaluation due to its cost and potential
return on investment. Allsteel introduced solar energy to our small Iowa town in
2004, added a solar array to the factory roof in 2010, doubled it in 2011, and continues
to evaluate further expansion.