Andersen Helps Conserve Natural Resources Through Increased Use of Fibrex® Material

Andersen%20WindowAndersen Corporation, a durable goods manufacturer for over one hundred years and the leading brand of windows and doors, continues its commitment to environmental efforts through increased use of Fibrex® material. Fibrex material is the company’s patented, highly sustainable structural composite that blends the best attributes of thermoplastics and bio-fibers – much of it reclaimed directly from the company’s manufacturing plant operations.

Andersen began producing windows made from wood in 1903, and in 1966 introduced vinyl cladding to help reduce maintenance and increase durability. After decades of experience with these two materials, the company introduced Fibrex® material in 1994. It combines the strength and stability of wood with the low-maintenance features of vinyl.

Fibrex material not only reduces the company’s need for raw timber, but reclaims much of its wood wastestream, as well. It provides an efficient use of embodied energy in the reclaimed wood fiber and helps reduce volatile organic compound emissions, since no wood preservative treatment or painting is required. Additionally, converted Fibrex material can be reclaimed and reprocessed into new components. Andersen has saved hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber since its introduction.

Wood is an important and renewable material that we’ve used in our products for more than 100 years,” said Shawn Aherns, product marketing manager at Andersen. “Combined with our preference to certified wood supplies, Fibrex material allows us to conserve natural resources and strive for continuous improvement of our environmental performance.”

Andersen uses Fibrex® material in the construction of many of its products including its Woodwright® double-hung windows, Renewal by Andersen® replacement windows, 200 Series basement windows and sill components for windows and patio doors.

Independent testing has found that the material has a low thermal expansion and contraction rate, is resistant to rotting and termites, and retains its rigidity and stability in high temperatures.

The design flexibility of Fibrex material allows us to research exciting product possibilities and applications,” said Aherns.

The Andersen® brand is the most recognized and most used brand in the window and patio door industry. For a local dealer, more information or a copy of the Andersen limited warranty, visit www.andersenwindows.com, or call 1-800-426-4261.

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Is a space heater worth it?

The purchase of my new home has made me very aware to the financial burden of everything from a large appliance to buying unnecessary decorations for my house.  I have made it a point to go green on almost every purchase I have made, from my fridge to my swirly energy efficient light bulbs.  Going from a 700 square foot apartment to a 2,000 square foot house has almost doubled my use of oil to heat my home.  The early cold chill that has interrupted Rhode Islanders cozy fall, has made most of us breakdown and turn on the heat.  I myself swore I would not do it till the first of November if even necessary.  I like so many broke down and was amazed at the amount of oil used to heat my new home.

It was upsetting and silly for me to be heating my entire house when I was just utilizing one room at a time.  This is when the thought of a space heater came into play.  After much research on energy efficient space heaters and the right size for my particular room I found what I think is the right fit for me.  It is very important to do this seemingly tedious research on the right space heater for your home.   http://buyenergyefficient.org/ is a helpful website and they have done a lot of  the research for you, it even allows you to purchase the proper space heater for your particular needs on their website.

Many people worry about the safety of a space heater but today’s models of space heaters are designed to turn off if they fall or begin to overheat.  Many like mine also come with a timer which allows me to have it shut off an hour after I go to bed when I am using it in my bedroom just to get the chill out.  Using one requires responsibility to shut it off before you leave the room for a long period of time or have an animal or small child that may bump into it.  If used correctly they can be a great way to lower heating costs.  Your electricity bill will be higher but nothing like the expense it takes to use oil.  Natural gas is on average usually cheaper than electricity, so depending on the size of your room or amount of rooms needed to heat, space heaters may not be the best financially savvy way for people with natural gas to heat their home.

Some other ideas to cut costs in your home would be to unplug all unused appliances such as your toaster, coffeepot, cell phone chargers ect.  Also lowering your thermostat by even 1-5 degree  can lower your heating bill significantly.  In our present economy some of us need to take every possible move to lower bills and this may be a great way to start.

Posted by: Kate

Green Building Perspectives: NuVo Technologies

NuVo Logo 6

In this week’s Green Building Perspectives, we sat down with David Rodarte, President and COO of NuVo Technologies. NuVo will be supporting the home’s whole home audio system with its revolutionary Essentia E6G, the first system of its kind to earn the coveted ENERGY STAR rating for its low energy consumption. As a company, NuVo has been at the forefront of the green movement in the consumer electronics space.  

What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project? What interested your company in the GLSL project?

We were highly intrigued by Green Life Smart Life from the minute we heard about it. In particular, the project appealed to us because it was focused on showing and proving that green-conscious lifestyles and consumer electronics usage weren’t mutually exclusive concepts.

NuVo has long been a proponent of the greening of electronics. In 2007, we debuted the first whole home audio system to earn the ENERGY STAR: our Essentia E6G system, which has been incredibly well-received not only for its energy efficiency but also for its performance and value. Our use of digital amplification throughout our line greatly reduces the heat that our whole home audio products once generated, and thus further reduces our systems’ energy consumption. Our OLED Control Pads consume less energy (and look better) than the LCD controllers used by other players in our category.

We’re even about to introduce a whole home audio system called Renovia that uses the existing electrical wiring in a home to deliver audio and associated metadata throughout the house. Traditionally, you need to pull new wire all over a home to get quality whole home audio to each room; with Renovia, your audio uses wiring that’s already there. Not only will Renovia give whole home audio an attractive appeal to existing homeowners, but it also eliminates the need for installers to run a lot of fresh copper wiring.

Green Life Smart Life is a great rallying point for our industry in terms of rethinking how we do business. We want to support that effort, because the custom installation industry needs to stay relevant and in step with the times and with social mores. At NuVo, we’ve been thinking about how we can become greener for years. We have aggressively moved to rethink and reduce our use of hazardous materials, to rethink and reduce our packaging, to rethink and reduce our manufacturing waste. We instituted a company-wide recycling program. A lot of that sounds like common sense and, to be frank, a lot of it IS common sense. But just because things make sense doesn’t mean a company will commit and follow through on them. It takes an organizational will, a direction, and the dedication of the people who work for the company. We’re so fortunate that, as a company, we employ people who want to make a positive difference.

Where does your company see green building going in the next five years?   

Obviously, new construction will become greener over the coming years. Projects like Green Life Smart Life will help to educate the consumer on housing choices they can make that are smart and responsible. There are proactive efforts by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) that are providing leadership for both builders and electronics manufacturers to offer energy-smart products and lead to good practice standards. Not only is this trend encouraging for the planet, but it’s also encouraging for our nation’s economic recovery. Innovation like green building is going drive this recovery, and products like ours that support energy-efficient, environmentally responsible lifestyles will only become more attractive to home buyers over time.

NuVo Essentia E6GSystem

NuVo Essentia E6G System

We view green building really as more of an opportunity than a challenge. In many ways, taking green building, energy efficiency and environmental consciousness into account helps us become more efficient as a manufacturer. By thinking through smart decisions to reduce materials, you ultimately reduce your expenses as a manufacturer. A traditional power supply for an audio system can weigh two or more pounds; a more energy-efficient digital power supply is weighed in ounces. You use less copper, you reduce the size of the amplifier box, you incur less shipping expense in terms of weight and size, you produce less material to recycle or reuse at the end of the product’s life cycle. It all adds up to a better value for the consumer, for the manufacturer, and for the planet. 

Do you think green practices/manufacturing will ever dominate your business? 

I believe the consumer electronics industry will be proactive in best practices and that manufacturers will be responsive to consumer preferences for green products. It will become a standard way of doing business for our industry to practice green standards. NuVo will remain at the forefront of this effort.

What do you think installers need to do, or prepare to do, to take full advantage of the green movement? 

Installers need to become educated and aware about green. Good green practice presents many opportunities that can make a difference in an installer’s bottom line. The installer can reduce material usage, such as copper cabling. The installer can implement smart designs that utilize low-energy-consumption appliances, or provide controls that shut down electronics when not in use. The installer can manipulate a home to be most efficient in general power consumption, utilize lighting control to reduce light output to an optimum level instead of just “on”,  control HVAC temperature  cycling. The list just goes on and on. A green-aware installer can truly make a difference… and profit from it as well.

Greener Gadgets Conference Tackles the Feasibility of Green Tech

On February 27th I attended a conference called Greener Gadgets put on by the CEA in cooperation with Marc Alt, Inhabitat, and Core77. The full day symposium has multiple purposes including understanding the environmental, business and social implications of “greening” consumer electronics products tackling all elements from design to disposal. One of the highlights I really enjoyed, the audience deciding Greener Gadgets Competition.
       
Keynote speaker Saul Griffith who is an absolute energy-phile, should there be such a term, is the inventor and founder of multiple companies including Makani Power and SQUID Labs. His obsession with charting his own carbon footprint was absolutely awe-inspiring, if not a little terrifying. Griffith was surprised when in the tracking exercise found he was a “planet fucker” when it was determined he consumed roughly 30% more energy than the average American – this despite his aware lifestyle and sustainable practices. Griffith pointed to his travel (both business and personal and to be fair the man is from Australia); his love of wine (big energy consumer/carbon emitter), and even his love of meat as contributing to his increased carbon footprint. Intent on making the world a better place while awaiting the birth of his son, he has set out to reduce his consumption in 2009 by making changes across the board including cutting back to just 2 glasses of wine per night from three. (Sacrifices!) His extraordinary example did not go wasted, his exploration of the global impact of how we consume energy at an alarming pace combined with the carbon emission of that which we consume sent us on a path of understanding how the consumer electronics industry must break the cycle of disposable devices and start thinking in terms of “heirloom products”.

This is not and will not be a quick or simple. Sitting there, I’m thinking this all makes sense but what about the industrial and business implications of driving longer product cycles? How does this concept affect manufacturers? I was thinking in terms of jobs (this would impact every piece of the production process from raw materials to finished goods), retail, marketing, advertising…the entire industrial process becomes stymied by our environmental concerns. One suggested solution was developing a consumer culture of maintenance and repair. Though this may help on the retailers and service providers, I wouldn’t say either Dell or Panasonic were applauding the idea in their cradle-to-cradle panel which was later in the day.

David Thompson, director of Panasonic’s Corporate Environmental Department who spent a bit of time on the hot seat from Engadget’s EIC Joshua Topolsky, defended Panasonic’s business cycle noting that technological advancements have driven TVs that last longer, consume less energy and have less raw materials. Thompson noted the “enormous pressure on electronics manufacturers to change products to be environmentally conscious” and Panasonic’s leading role on that path. Topolsky, not satiated by the answers he was given, kept on Thompson until I got bored and started reading Business Week. Topolsky did cite in his closing that Engadget needs products to keep coming to make Engadget business model work so I’m thinking maybe he’ll start Engadget Green to ease his conscience.

As companies look for ideas to reduce both the energy they consume and the energy its products consume, the way they approach product design will be essential.  My favorite panel discussion was “Green Design for Good”. The lively, insightful discussion reviewed how products designed for underdeveloped countries have inspired sustainable design elements that make products last longer, power themselves and serve purpose. Mark Bent, president and CEO of SunNight Solar, and his team have engineered flashlights that use PV (photovoltaic panels) to power the devices in places like Africa and the Middle East. His BOGO (buy-one-get-one) approach inspires people like me to buy the flashlight, and the free unit gets donated to a family in need. The flashlights collect energy from the sun all day to power a 10 x 10 room at varying hours based on brightness. What this means in Africa is light at night; light to read by, light for security, light to deliver livestock. His design considerations, and the lifecycle analysis of the flashlight, drove a better product designed for its audience. It can be done and hundreds of young designers showed their best ideas at the end of the day.

The day concluded with the Greener Gadgets Design Competition. The contest asked designers to seek ways to minimize the environmental impact of consumer electronic devices at any stage in the product lifecycle. The top 50 entries were published online for voting and commentary with the final ten judged live by the audience.  The competition brought the ever-interesting Saul Griffith back to influence our clapping (yes, the top 3 were determined by a clap-o-meter after heated debate). My personal favorite and second place winner was the Power Hog, a plug-in “piggy bank” that tracks power usage for devices that are plugged into it. Designed to sensitize children to energy costs, the kids have to put money into the bank in order to power the XBOX or Wii. First place winner and hands-down audience favorite was the Tweet-a-Watt, a “shame on you” device that measures its owner’s power usage and Twitters the figure to followers who judge you for your consumption in 140 characters or less.

Overall the event was stimulating. It gave you a lot to think about and an opportunity to network with some of the leading minds in the movement. Do I think we’re closer to Greener Gadgets? Not yet, but I have hope.

Posted by KDL |follow me on Twitter