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Ceres works with leading companies to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, promote the uptake and acceleration of clean energy solutions, and help pass policies that support a low carbon economy. In this interview, Ceres talks with Eliza Clark of Andersen Corporation about the value of setting and achieving sustainability goals and how state policies can support corporate sustainability efforts and catalyze Minnesota’s clean energy economy.
Andersen Corporation is the largest window and door manufacturer in North America and headquartered in Bayport. As Andersen’s director of sustainability and environment, Eliza is responsible for developing and advancing the company’s sustainability initiatives.
Tell us about Andersen Corporation’s sustainability commitments.
We focus on sustainability in four areas: supply chain, operations, products, and community. I’d like to highlight two commitments in particular:
First is our goal to reduce water, waste, and energy use 20 percent by 2020. We met our water goal and are working diligently on our energy and waste targets. Our buildings are all unique—ranging from manufacturing centers to retail locations—so there is a high degree of complexity when it comes to energy use. We create energy plans for each site that identify specific projects and investments to help meet our goals. We’ve made great progress on energy efficiency and are working to integrate more renewable energy.
We are also committed to reducing our transportation impact. As a partner of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Program, we’re committed to improving the efficiency of our transportation and freight trips. We’ve also transitioned to hybrid vehicles in our sales fleet and installed electric vehicle charging stations at all of our Minnesota facilities. And we are passionate and vocal supporters of ENERGY STAR. Energy efficient windows significantly reduce building energy use so this is a key way we can shrink our carbon footprint.
I’m also proud of the work we do to integrate sustainability values into our community engagement through partnerships with groups like Habitat for Humanity, which pursues energy-efficient construction, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, which preserves and protects one of America’s most important national parks. We recently collaborated to build and design Habitat for Humanity’s first net-zero affordable housing community in Wisconsin, where renewable energy generated on-site will cover the energy used by these homes. At the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone, we retrofitted cabins with new windows, achieving a 50 percent reduction in energy usage, and are now helping them to build their first net-positive building at the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Campus.
Andersen Corporation was an early signatory of the Ceres Climate Declaration. Why did Andersen decide to sign the declaration?
The decision to sign the Ceres Climate Declaration was unanimous because of how it empowers businesses to be part of the climate solution. We view our work with green buildings as integral to reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change and, as industry leaders, signing the declaration was a way to put a stake in the ground and call on others do the same.
What Minnesota policies or programs help you meet your sustainability and clean energy goals?
Two come to mind. We were an early subscriber to Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community solar garden program, which helps increase access to renewable energy for Minnesota businesses and residents. We committed to purchasing 19 megawatts of solar power in 2016 and see the benefits of that investment through reduced energy bills. This was our first foray into renewable energy and we plan to continue growing our portfolio. Additionally, Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program helps raise our operational efficiency. Our largest facility is over two million square feet so we work directly with Xcel to prioritize and implement energy efficiency projects.
How does sustainability and clean energy benefit your customers and your business?
The efficiency projects we have implemented in Minnesota have saved our company more than $10 million, which makes a big difference to our bottom line. Our products save our customers and community partners money on their energy bills.
What makes you optimistic our ability to tackle today’s sustainability challenges?
There are so many talented people committed to solving these challenges. We are proud to be one of the first businesses to join the Sustainable Growth Coalition—a group of 35 public and private sector leaders committed to advancing corporate sustainability. What’s exciting is that we have the tools we need to make sustainable growth a reality, we just need to put the pieces together. For example, five years ago we were talking about a future with net-zero building and now we have figured out how to build net-positive buildings. There are still many hurdles, but there is also an opportunity for innovative businesses to lead the way toward a more sustainable, clean energy future.
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.
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