Martin Grohman, Director of Sustainability

Hi I'm Marty Grohman,  GAF's Director of Sustainability.  I look forward to your comments and collaboration as I discuss items of interest in the sustainability field.


GAF helps advance sustainable design with LCA

As the roofing industry leader, GAF is proud to promote sustainability in all areas of our business.  We want to help shape the building products and practices of the future, so we’re investing in cutting-edge sustainability practices and working with some of the most-trusted and sought after thought leaders in sustainability.

One of our latest partnerships is with the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, a non-profit LCA think tank for the construction sector.  Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the science of environmental footprinting, putting real numbers on sustainability performance.  LCA reports on impact measures such as global warming potential, embodied energy and potential to create smog over the entire lifetime of a product. 

LCA is a powerful tool for industry. We’ve been using LCA to benchmark environmental performance of our TPO products so we can continue to look for environmental improvements.  LCA also made it possible for us to develop environmental product declarations (EPDs) for for EverGuard® and EverGuard Extreme® TPO – specify those products and you’ll be closer to earning the LEED®  v4 new credit for EPDs.

We’re also helping to bring the power of LCA to your design practice.  We’re a collaborator in the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings, a widely-used software tool that makes LCA accessible to construction sector professionals.  Option 4 of the new LEED credit “Building life-cycle impact reduction” asks design teams to use LCA to minimize embodied environmental footprint of a new construction project.  The three points available in the new LEED LCA credit are easy to earn using the Impact Estimator.  You’ll find our TPO products available in the Athena databases. 

We believe in sustainability performance data for products and for the buildings that use those products.  That’s why we like both of these new LEED credits – EPDs to motivate manufacturers, and whole-building LCA to motivate designers.  It’s progressive thinking in the evolution of sustainability.  And it’s how we think at GAF.


The GAF Spotlight Series at Greenbuild

Hosting Leading Green Building Thinkers in Booth 1123

We will be exhibiting at the 2014 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo taking place in New Orleans, LA from October 22nd through the 24th. Greenbuild is the premier event for sustainable building and a showcase for GAF’s commitment to manufacturing sustainable products and implementing earth-friendly processes.
Our booth at the Morial Convention center is number 1123 (easy to remember: 1-123) and it will feature our most current products and programs, as well as some really interesting speakers - real leading lights of the green building movement that it is a great honor for us to host.  
Each guest will speak for approximately 10 minutes and then host Q&A sessions.  We're calling the GAF Spotlight Series.  We will video the talks and link them up here after the event, but in case you're able to attend live and in person, here's the schedule:
Wednesday, 10:45AM: Valerie Walsh, Principal, Walsh Sustainability Group: Roofing as Hero: Roofing credits in LEED v2009 and LEED v4 Demystified
Wednesday, 1:15PM: Kurt Shickman, Executive Director, Global Cool Cities Alliance Cooling the World's Cities with Reflective Urban Surfaces
Wednesday, 4:15PM: Alex Wilson, President, Resilient Design Institute: Survive and Thrive - The Need for Resilience
Thursday 10:45AM: Jennifer Atlee, Technical Liaison, Health Product Declaration Collaborative: Transparency: Q&A on HPD 2.0
Thursday 1:15 Jamie Meil, Managing Director, Athena Sustainable Materials Institute: Whole Building LCA Credits in LEED v4 - Easier Than You Think

How roofing contractors can help address home comfort

GAF is National Sponsor of Efficiency First 

Homeowners have high expectations for comfort throughout their home.  They don’t want a drafty farmhouse anymore or a spare bedroom that isn’t the same temperature as the rest of the house.  It may come as a surprise, but a professional roofing contractor can address these concerns and more.

“The professional roofing contractor has the right combination of skills on staff and also sees a much larger number of existing homes than many other types of contractors”, says Coby Rudolph, Executive Director of Efficiency First, a national membership organization of home performance contractors.  In fact, home energy efficiency strongly relates to a properly detailed attic, and it’s remarkable how straightforward some of the improvements can be.  For example, a bathroom fan that has never worked well may simply have a kinked or disconnected exhaust line.  Air conditioning ducts in the attic might be disconnected or have large leaks.   Oftentimes these issues have existed since the construction of the home, and a savvy roofing contractor can really improve their client’s comfort (and help reduce their energy bills) with some quick work in the attic. 

To learn more about this and develop expertise in home performance work, a professional roofing contractor should consider joining Efficiency First  - something that makes even more sense now that GAF is a national sponsor. There are state and local chapters across the countr. Efficiency First supports home performance companies by providing access to educational and networking opportunities, as well as discounts on products and services.  For the professional roofing contractor, it’s a great chance to develop some new partnerships and a source of referrals. Energy auditors see hundreds of homes, some of which are bound to need roofing work.  And referring more complex energy projects (or subbing them out) to a certified energy auditor who has the credentials to qualify for energy rebates and other incentives can be a great way to build goodwill with clients as well. 

In summary, delivering meaningful energy savings to homeowners will have them thanking you every month for years to come!

Are you a professional roofing contractor who performs home energy audits?  Have you performed attic insulation checks, improved attic air barriers, or referred work to an energy auditor or home performance contractor?  If so, I’d love to hear more about it.   


The Coolest Job in Recycling

As the Director of Sustainability for North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, I like to think I have a pretty amazing job.  GAF is a Platinum Member of the USGBC, and I get to help set green building benchmarks at a national level. We’re a founding sponsor of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative and the Resilient Design Institute.  Plus, at GAF we have hugely sought-after contractor programs, and so I get to make a significant impact on reducing landfill waste with the 400-plus members of the Certified Green Roofer Program.

All this means I get to interact almost every day with people who recycle millions of pounds of post-consumer shingles; work with national programs that aim to reduce millions of pounds of CO2 emissions; and do things like participate in a Google Hangout on Zero Waste Manufacturing. To anyone with an interest in recycling, green building, resource management or environmentally-friendly business practices, you’d have to say, I have a very cool job. 

But try explaining that to an 8 year old. 

See, in the mornings when I walk my kids to their school bus stop, I usually have a few minutes to chat with the other parents and kids waiting on the corner. Of course, people ask: "What do you do for work?" And although to me, my job is very cool, I sometimes find myself at a loss for words when asked to actually explain what it is I do, especially to an 8 year old. But I try: “I work on recycling, I help set green building targets, USGBC, Washington DC, recycling, blah blah blah”. 

The parents tend to nod and smile and say things like, "Oh, that sounds so interesting."

But the kids just want to know one thing: "Do you get to ride on the recycling truck?"




Recycling Electronics

Electronic Waste, or eWaste or as it is called by those in the recycling trade, is more and more of an issue in the waste stream.  Computers, mp3 players, phones, you name it – these items are produced in larger and larger quantities, and it all has to end up somewhere.  According to Compucycle, 135 million phones and 31 million computers are disposed of annually in the US alone.  Many of these gadgets contain hazardous materials, such as lithium batteries, that can leach into groundwater or cause various other problems.  Plus, many of the materials used in electronics, such as gold and copper, are valuable and in short supply.  So you can see why it is important not to just toss old electronics in the trash; but at the same time, it can be hard to find a suitable and safe site to properly recycle old electronic items.

To help address this issue, for the second year in a row, GAF held eWaste collection events across many of our sites for Earth Day on April 22nd.  I’m pleased to report that we collected more than 16 pallets and more than 10,000 lbs of electronics for proper recycling! 

If you don’t work at GAF and need to recycle electronics, Goodwill is the best option in my experience.  You can bring almost any old electronic item there (don’t forget old extension cords, they can be recycled too, and contain valuable copper) for recycling.  In some cases you may need to pay or make a donation, particularly for hard-to-recycle items like older-style CRT monitors, which contain leaded glass.  Staples, Best Buy, and many other electronics recyclers offer programs too.  You may also check, a site maintained and supported by the Consumer Electronics Association (just like GAF supports!).

Do you have old electronics that need recycling?  Have you had challenges finding a suitable place?