Andersen Partners with Yellowstone National Park to Push Past Net Zero

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Andersen Partners with Yellowstone National Park to Push Past Net Zero

The window manufacturer has become part of a high profile project that includes cradle-to-cradle design and net positive energy production.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: Building Science


Of all the benefits millions of visitors experience at our National Parks, the living lesson of our symbiotic relationship with the planet is perhaps the most significant. Yellowstone National Park, as part of its vision to become the world’s greenest national park, is now tackling a new challenge to educate, engage and lead by example: seeking Living Building Challenge and LEEDv4 Platinum certification for its youth campus being built inside the park.  It is a challenge that Andersen Corporation is proud to support as part of our shared vision for a better future. The company has already played a role in outfitting Lamar Buffalo Park with state-of-the-art windows (shown).

These “next generation” green building certifications advocate for going beyond reducing energy use and carbon footprints, to producing more renewable energy and promoting healthier people and communities; in other words, from “less bad” to “more good.” Green building now means considering the future of the whole building as well as its inhabitants – from net positive energy, to the sustainability of the materials used to create the building, to the health and wellness of its people:

Net Positive Impacts

This approach emphasizes renewable energy and innovative modes of energy storage, cradle-to-cradle building materials that eliminate landfill waste, and new strategies to green our grey water infrastructure.

Healthy People, Equitable Communities

Sustainable buildings have also now moved beyond the four walls of facility itself to focus on its inhabitants, by encouraging designs that promote access to natural views, daylight and healthy indoor air. The Living Building Challenge also requires verification that building suppliers are operating their own businesses in a socially responsible, equitable manner.

Material Transparency

Living Building Challenge and LEEDv4 certification both emphasize greater transparency in choosing products for the building. Labels such as Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and Health Product Declarations (HPD) provide comprehensive information about a product’s environmental and material impacts. Many building owners are also seeking to avoid products that include ingredients known to pose risks to human health. These new considerations supplement today’s more common criteria for vetting “green” products, such as durability, energy efficiency and recyclability.

Andersen and Yellowstone share a common vision of a better future. Each generation of Andersen leadership has sought to enable a better world through environmental impact reductions, improvements and investments across our value chain – from our supply chain, to operations, products, and the communities we live and work in. We’ve demonstrated this most recently by signing the Ceres Climate Declarationestablishing our own goals to reduce energy, water, and solid waste by 20 percent by 2020, and honing our product R&D focus to advance superior energy efficiency solutions for our customers.

Equally important is how our collective efforts help increase access to green building solutions across all income levels. To-date, many people have assumed that sustainable building products are priced out of their reach. A whole-building approach to green building has driven technology advancements and more balanced financial models, which has made greener choices more accessible and cost-effective, even for affordable housing projects. Continuing to push the envelope to a net positive future helps increase access to all people who want to help combat the risks of climate change.

At Andersen, we have been proud to partner with Yellowstone on green building projects around the park, including the first LEED Platinum building in the National Park Service – the Paintbrush Dormitory near Old Faithful. This year, we are honored to continue that commitment by engaging in a collaborative effort to design and build the first Living Building Challenge and LEEDv4 Platinum project in the National Parks. This project, a rebuilt and expanded Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Campus, will be home to hundreds of high school students who come to the park during the summer months to learn about conservation. Andersen has committed $1 million in funds and windows and doors for this important site that will help educate the next generation of sustainability leaders.

Yellowstone has shown how – with the right vision and collaborative partners – we can all set ambitious goals for a more sustainable future. Through its Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) initiative, the park sought to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 18 percent, water consumption by 15 percent, and diverted 100 percent of solid waste from landfills. This next goal, achieving Living Building Challenge and LEEDv4 Platinum certification for the YCC, will serve as an important example for promoting the “more good” of sustainable buildings: educating and inspiring people, while meaningfully tackling the risks of climate change.

The commitment Yellowstone demonstrated in its efforts to become the World’s Greenest Park proves we can make a difference – and that we have real solutions to reduce our impact on the planet that sustains us. Andersen shares that vision for a better tomorrow and we call on other businesses, organizations and people to join us in opening an exciting new chapter in sustainable building practices.

About the Author: Eliza Clark is Director of Sustainability and Environmental at Andersen Corporation.