Considering Our Impact at Every Level

Amid the busy bustle of the commercial glass industry, where our products and services contribute to the performance of new structures being built worldwide, I think it’s worth considering how we use our resources.

This may sound like an obvious statement, but think about it. The resources and raw materials we use to make the built world come from somewhere, and it’s inherently our responsibility to make sure we’re being good stewards of those resources.

I’ve been thinking about how we can apply that mindset to our daily operations and our larger strategic initiatives in the coming months and years. Here are some things to consider:

Get the Most Out of Raw Materials

You probably don’t need to be reminded of the supply chain challenges we’ve dealt with over the past several years. Good stewardship of the resources and raw materials available is critical to maintaining productivity and, thus, getting our products into customers’ hands.

Doing so may involve retooling your plans and processes to maximize your materials. Implementing automated processes, which can be calibrated to exact specifications, can help maximize what’s on hand while minimizing scrap. For example, manual insulating glass (IG) assembly is less predictable than comparable automated processes, especially if your labor pool on the shop floor fluctuates. If a reliable IG line operator calls in sick, your production and quality rates may dip. Automated processes can help eliminate these variables.

Good stewardship of raw materials and automation can help ensure you’re using every bit of what’s available. Minimizing scrap and waste can also help keep unnecessary materials out of landfills.

Target High-Efficiency Goals

The thermal efficiency of commercial glass and glazing has been a moving target for several years now. Increasingly stringent building codes, historically adopted more aggressively by larger metropolises, have driven performance requirements higher and show no signs of slowing. Consider that the buildings contribute about 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions. There’s a significant impact we can make with the strategic use of more efficient building materials.

For the commercial fenestration industry, it will take the application of the right progressive technologies—including warm edge spacer systems for large-scale commercial glass, high-performance coatings, commercial vinyl systems and more—to meet newly adopted codes reliably and cost-effectively. Warm-edge spacers, for example, can help reduce the transfer of heat energy through commercial glass versus traditional metal spacers. Where applicable, vinyl windows offer outstanding thermal performance and minimal maintenance and tend to outlast the structures in which they are installed. Doing this, in turn, helps us to be better stewards of our own natural environment, an imperative for any competitive and socially responsible company.

Good stewardship of our resources and environment is something that we should all take seriously. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it can also translate into a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

Joe Erb is the national account manager for Quanex.