Earth Day seeks to raise awareness about the need to focus on green living and confronting climate change. Thanks to various initiatives, the glass industry has been at the forefront of the fight to mitigate the damage caused by ecosystem depletion, resource deficiencies and greenhouse gas emissions.
Whether through reducing emissions throughout the entire value chain, developing guides on building performance standards and energy codes or designing energy-efficient windows, the glass industry is no stranger to solutions.
Those solutions come in various forms, including partnerships, such as the one formed by AGC and Saint-Gobain to design a flat glass line expected to reduce direct CO2 emissions. The companies were also recently named to Carbon Disclosure Project’s “Climate Change A-List.” The list recognizes companies worldwide for environmental transparency and performance on climate change, deforestation and water security.
Saint-Gobain has even become the first manufacturer to carry out a test production of flat glass using more than 30% hydrogen during research and development trials.
Another solution is through energy-code adoption. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) appropriated $1 billion to the U.S. Department of Energy for state and local governments to accelerate energy-code adoption. That includes $330 million to adopt the latest energy codes and $670 million to adopt a zero-energy code. The IRA also includes tax incentives for several glazing products, including electrochromic glass.
Some companies have also sought the approval of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). SBTi mobilizes companies to set science-based targets and boost their competitive advantage in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Officials from machinery manufacturer Glaston recently announced the company has started reducing company-wide emissions targets that align with SBTi.
“Glass plays a key role in achieving the energy efficiency targets for buildings in both new and renovation construction, and the technologies we have developed enable the production of more energy-efficient glass structures,” says CEO Anders Dahlblom.
Companies are also designing technology to offset the high energy costs associated with glass buildings. NEXT Energy Technologies has developed an organic thin film technology that allows daylight to pass through while converting solar energy to electricity. According to Jeff Horowitz, NEXT’s director of business development and partnerships, the film can possibly offset up to 40% of energy in traditional commercial buildings.
Emissions play but a small part in saving the Earth. Earth Day 2023, which occurred on April 22, calls for humanity to “Invest in Our Planet.” This includes taking action to protect wildlife. The glass industry has answered that call, designing and implementing bird-friendly glazing products that limit the number of unnecessary bird deaths due to window strikes.
According to American Bird Conservancy (ABC), glass causes between 500 million and one billion bird deaths annually. ABC’s collisions experts, Christine Sheppard and Bryan Lenz, stated that Smithsonian researchers estimated “buildings one to three stories tall accounted for 44% of all bird fatalities, about 253 million bird deaths annually. Larger, low-rise buildings four to 11 stories high caused 339 million deaths. And high-rise buildings, 11 floors and higher, kill 508,000 total birds annually. Individual skyscrapers can be quite deadly for birds, but they kill fewer birds overall due to their limited numbers.”
Though Earth Day may be a mark on the calendar, many groups, industries and organizations are doing their part every day to limit the damage to the planet. The glass industry is one that continues to develop solutions in an ever-changing world.