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Interface Sustainability Results: Energy Intensity Drops 6%, Landfilling 28%

Carpet company Interface’s non-renewable energy intensity for its manufacturing operations dropped around 6 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 10,944 to about 10,222 BTUs of non-renewable energy per square yard of product, according to figures from the company’s upcoming 2011 sustainability report.

The same metric is down 47 percent since 1996, according to the figures, which are drawn from company press statements released prior to the actual 2011 report, as well as from the 2010 report. The full 2011 report will be released at a later date, Interface says.

Interface says it is striving to improve energy efficiency, using energy metering and process analysis, to reduce energy usage and decrease energy costs. The Energy Mirror – an energy management system installed at its Scherpenzeel, Netherlands,  factory – tracks real-time energy use and prominently displays the results, allowing employees at all levels to identify ways to reduce use. The company has also replaced and upgraded HVAC units and lighting systems, and installed skylights and solar tubes to allow daylight in and reduce the need for electricity.

A lot of the progress on the above metric stems from the company’s increased use of renewable energy sources. In 2011, 31 percent of the company’s energy came from renewable sources, up from 30 percent in 2010. Last year eight of Interface’s 10 manufacturing facilities were 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The company currently has three on-site solar voltaic arrays and also uses locally sourced landfill gas to power its operations.

Interface used zero renewable energy until 1998. In that year, just 1.5 percent of its total energy use came from renewable sources.

The increase in energy efficiency and the use of renewable power have had a positive effect on the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1996, Interface’s absolute greenhouse gas emissions at manufacturing facilities have been reduced by 32 percent, the company says. As the 2011 report has not yet been released, there are no accurate figures available for year-on-year progress in this metric. Interface’s energy efficiency and direct purchases of renewable energy have resulted in a reduction of more than 22,000 metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions from the 1996 baseline, the company says.

Interface reduced the amount of waste it sent to landfill by just under 28 percent year-on-year. In 2010 the company sent 3.6 million lbs of waste to landfill, compared to 2.6 million lbs in 2011. The 2011 figure represents an 81 percent reduction from the 15 million lbs of waste the company sent to landfill in 1996.

The company’s ReEntry 2.0 process reclaims old carpet and converts it into recycled raw materials. Interface is expanding infrastructure to recapture used face fiber to be reconstituted into nylon and convert used vinyl backing into new backing. Last year, ReEntry diverted 25 million pounds of carpet and carpet scraps from landfill. Since 1995, ReEntry has diverted a cumulative total of 253 million pounds from landfill.

Some 44 percent of the raw materials Interface used in 2011 were from recycled or bio-based sources, up from 40 percent in 2010, 4 percent in 2004 and just 1 percent in 1996. The company says is “pioneering” commercial carpet applications for bio-based yarn that is created from corn and soy.

Last year, Interface manufacturing sites used 65 million gallons of water, compared with 288 million gallons used in 1996. The statements don’t detail absolute usage figures for 2010.

In May, the company won a Guardian Sustainable Business award for its closed loop “Go Beyond” recycling program. Also in May, UL Environment launched EPD Transparency brief, a single-page supplement to the Environmental Product Declaration, which manufacturers can use to provide a summary of a product’s lifecycle-based environmental impact information. The product was developed with the help of Interface, as well as architecture firm Perkins+Will.

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