As a leader in the building materials industry, James Hardie’s approach to sustainability extends far beyond the manufacturing process. We recognise our obligation to design and promote energy efficient products, building solutions and sustainable communities.
One key aspect driving our focus on sustainability is the recycling of input materials. Water usage forms a critical part of the fibre cement manufacturing process and is reused at least four times before it is treated and released. We continue to research new water optimisation technologies as part of a continuous effort to reduce both the amount of fresh water used and discharged and we are currently piloting technology that cleans waste water for re-use in our fibre cement process. We also re-introduce sludge and dust back into our manufacturing process and are continuing with initiatives to reduce waste to landfill by partnering with other industries to beneficially use our reject materials.
In Australia we have successfully reduced the sizes of our timber spacers /gluts used in packaging our products. This has reduced our need for timber by approximately 700m? per annum and our carbon footprint. Additionally, we construct pallets from reject product which also reduces our need for timber.
The majority of our raw material inputs (such as cement, sand and water) are locally or regionally sourced (within 200 kilometres), which enables the Company to minimise fuel costs, thereby maximising transport efficiency and reducing our impact on the environment.
Efficient manufacturing is critical to the Company’s success and we take pride in our continued development of new initiatives and sustainable practices to improve our manufacturing efficiency and to reduce our carbon footprint.
In the United States, our Peru (Illinois), Reno (Nevada), and Pulaski (Virginia) manufacturing facilities are ISO 14001 certified. ISO 14001 is a voluntary certification issued by a third-party certified auditor attesting that the Company has established the environmental management best practices as documented in the ISO 14001 requirements framework. These best practices include a standardised approach to environmental training, internal auditing, record keeping and documentation, as well as continuous improvement processes from a resource conservation and energy reduction perspective.
Two years ago we commenced the Manufacturing Advantage Program at our Rosehill (Sydney) plant. Due to the program’s success in maximising employee efficiency (in addition to reducing the volume of waste produced) the Company is now progressively rolling out the Program at our other manufacturing facilities in the Asia Pacific region.
A benefit arising from the recent capacity expansion at Carole Park (Brisbane) is that the plant can now manufacture a wider range of products, including the Scyon™ advanced cement composite building product range. Queensland represents more than 30% of our Australian sales. By significantly reducing the distance required to transport our product to Queensland distributors, shipping distances and consequently fuel consumption are minimised, reducing the impact on the environment and providing us with a strong advantage over our competitors, particularly those from overseas.
Having a local manufacturing presence in the same countries in which we distribute our products allows us to shorten our supply chain and maximise efficiency. We are able to tailor our manufacturing to produce products demanded by the local market and deliver them in an efficient manner.
James Hardie promotes energy efficient and sustainable design. Our products have been manufactured with an emphasis on reducing their environmental impact, use sustainable, plantation-grown timber and low toxicity products and have low volatile organic compounds.
In the United States, the use of James Hardie products contribute points towards the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) project certification, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Standard (NGBS) project certification, and many other green building rating systems. Factors contributing to the points awarded to projects using James Hardie products include regionally-sourced raw materials, multiple manufacturing facilities spread across the country, recycled content, and low-toxicity raw materials.
HardieBacker® board manufactured in the United States is certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Environment to comply with both GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold certifications. GREENGUARD Certification is achieved when a product or material meets stringent emissions standards. GREENGUARD Gold Certification is achieved when a product or material meets even more stringent emissions standards than for GREENGUARD Certification and is specifically designed to ensure safe environments in schools and healthcare facilities. GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold certified products can contribute to a project’s total points in numerous established green building rating systems (such as LEED, NGBS, and Green Globes) and can satisfy code and ordinance criteria.
For the second consecutive year, in April 2016, James Hardie was awarded the Greenest Siding Products Readers’ Choice Award from Green Builder Magazine.
James Hardie was the first Australian fibre cement manufacturer to have internal lining products certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA). GECA is Australia’s only independent, not-for-profit, multi sector ecolabelling program which certifies products and services for use in commercial applications. Standards are developed following ISO 14024 principles for global best practice in ecolabelling.
GECA's scheme, which provides consumers with confidence that the products they choose have a lower impact on the environment and human health, is recognised by the Green Building Council of Australia and is preferred by many developers, architects and builders.
Building Solutions and Construction
While reducing the environmental impact of product manufacturing is critical, the fact is that sustainable building solutions and construction involves far more than that. James Hardie heavily invests in the on-going development and design of composite cement products and building solutions that are recognised as being durable, low maintenance and energy efficient.
Our composite cement products are typically used in lightweight construction systems which are low in embodied energy (a timber-framed brick veneer wall has about two and a half times the embodied energy of a similar-sized, timber-framed fibre cement clad wall) and require lighter building frames (a timber-framed and elevated floor has less than half the embodied energy of a concrete slab), thereby reducing the impact on the topology and vegetation of a site. Our products are also lighter than many other building products, so they can be transported using less energy and can enable increased construction speeds.
We continue to invest heavily in our plants, people and processes. Over the past 5 years we have invested over US$560 million across our global manufacturing network. We have expanded our manufacturing presence and employ many local people in the areas in which we operate as well as being strong supporters of local businesses and suppliers.
James Hardie matches employee donations to charitable institutions and causes, as well as supporting and participating in community welfare programs. We have partnered with municipalities, educators and NGOs to improve the communities in which we operate by participating in various community improvement initiatives including contributing building materials to rebuild storm damaged homes in communities of need, donating school supplies, promoting safety initiatives at home and sponsoring various community food drives.