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Saint-Gobain invests in green tech at Vancouver plant

Russell Hixson
Saint-Gobain invests in green tech at Vancouver plant
CERTAINTEED—CertainTeed’s Vancouver plant, which manufactures gypsum wallboard for the region, is getting a major green upgrade.

Green technology is coming to CertainTeed Canada’s gypsum wallboard plant in Vancouver.

Global manufacturing company Saint-Gobain, which owns CertainTeed, announced it will spend $4 million on a heat recovery project that is expected to cut the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 10 per cent and boost energy efficiency.

“Being a good business is being a good neighbour that is why we are working on reducing our CO2 emissions,” said Richard Juggery, CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Canada. “That means better wallboard for our customers and a lower impact on the environment. We see what is happening around us. In B.C. we can’t ignore that there are some heavy impacts from climate change on our everyday life.”

CertainTeed’s project in Vancouver was selected to receive a $1.4 million shared investment from the CleanBC Industry Fund program, which provides government funding for cleaner technologies that reduce emissions in industry.

The company’s Vancouver plant is the only gypsum wallboard manufacturing facility in the province. The site began operations in 1975 and today and employs approximately 80 people.

For the project, crews will install a large heat exchanger on its industrial dryer. The heat exchanger will capture and recycle some of the warm air emitted from the dryer, allowing the plant to maintain the dryer’s temperature while consuming less energy and ultimately reducing the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Juggery explained the heat exchanger will be built alongside the existing dryer. The company has put together a team of specialists, many of them from within the organization. The team is currently working through the project milestones to complete the design stage. The installation period will take roughly two months, including two weeks of plant shutdown to connect the system to the dryer. Juggery said the project is expected to be executed in 2023.

The move is one small piece of Saint-Gobain’s larger global Grow and Impact strategy, which includes plans to reduce the company’s energy consumption and emissions. The company, which has 167,000 employees in 75 countries, is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

“It’s not just about making announcements about being net-zero by 2050,” said Juggery. “It’s really putting actions in front of words and that’s what we are doing. In each country we have a Co2 roadmap and each CEO is committed. The project in B.C. and Vancouver is part of that roadmap.”

Juggery explained the construction industry has a major role to play in reducing global emissions. Around 40 per cent of global emissions are linked to buildings and 20 per cent are from construction.

“If you look at what is happening in the world, Saint-Gobain has an acute awareness that we are facing a huge sustainability challenge,” said Juggery, who added demographic trends show more and more people are moving to urban areas, prompting more vertical construction.

He added that lightweight, sustainable building solutions are needed to achieve emissions goals.

“The vision we have at Saint-Gobain is to hopefully make the world a better home,” he said. “We are confident that with Grow and Impact we have clear strategy to grow with a positive impact on construction and I would say to grow the positive impact on the planet.”

Juggery also praised the province’s support of the project, which he said allows the company to do sustainability projects while remaining competitive in the market.

“We need to go as fast as we can,” said Juggery. “The beauty of B.C. is they have a vision for the province on sustainability which is aligning with our vison of the company. When those two visions overlap and align that allows us to go very fast in reducing emissions. I see the support from the region as a strong enabler and strong accelerator.”



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