“Sustainability – that is, reducing our environmental impact – has always been important,” says Brendan Glen, Engineering Manager at GH Commercial. "But it’s gone from being something that’s seen as necessary, to a key focus point of every stakeholder; something which requires innovation, continued investment in new technology and demands progression.” Brendan is right. At GH Commercial, as across the architecture and construction industry as a whole, properly understanding the environmental impact and taking concrete steps to reduce it across products, operations, and supply chains is no longer a nice-to-have – it's an essential.
Sustainability has always been part of the decision-making process at GH Commercial. The company’s major Australian manufacturing plant is located next to the Barwon River, and that - amongst other material and supply considerations - has necessitated a keen awareness and respect for the environment since day one. “These days sustainability has a significant presence all throughout the organisation,” says Brendan. “It’s very much a key consideration in everything we do. Internally, we’ve developed a Sustainability Steering Committee to determine and communicate our sustainability goals and actions, ensuring that we are all aware and aligned with our sustainability targets and initiatives.” In addition, the business is heavily focused on reducing waste, using resources more efficiently, and improving the lifecycle of their products. “We’re also validating our efforts through certification schemes like Declare Red List Free and the Australian Climate Active Carbon Neutral Organisation Certification,” adds Brendan.1
The innate ambition to improve the company’s energy efficiency is another crucial point of focus for GH Commercial, and the entire Mohawk Industries group. “It’s a key aspect of our sustainability journey,” says Lachlan Howell, Strategic Account Manager – Corporate. “Particularly over the last three to five years we have gained a much better understanding of our energy consumption and have considered and implemented an increasingly broad range of initiatives to improve our energy efficiency, and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Brendan echoes that sentiment. “Over the past few years, at an operational level, we have been heavily focused on reducing our use of energy and the carbon emissions from the manufacturing and distribution processes,” he explains. “We have installed solar systems on two of our operational facilities in Victoria, completed LED lighting upgrades at four of our Victorian facilities and improved our maintenance processes to minimise energy losses within our steam and compressed air systems."
Brendan also adds that GH Commercial has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at reducing both energy and water consumption. The company introduced a new dye washing line equipment which saves an impressive 500 litres of water per minute during a production run. This has been further augmented by the efficiencies introduced in the latex application process. By recycling the water utilised during the process, the company has managed to further reduce the overall water consumption by 600 litres for every 14-tonne batch of latex.
These projects clearly demonstrate GH Commercial’s drive to keep investing in new technologies that can improve manufacturing efficiency, while continuing to identify – and act on – opportunities to reduce their environmental impact. The organisation is also working at reducing the natural gas consumption in thermal processes, ensuring that their carpet products are finished with improved energy efficiency.
GH Commercial’s efforts are an undeniable testament to the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and reducing their environmental impact - something Lachlan is looking forward to. “Those smaller initiatives within our four walls are really important to being able to achieve some of our larger goals,” he says. “For me, being able to look at where we’ve come from, with an understanding of the journey we’re on, makes it really exciting to know that the company is looking to continue investing in our capabilities to be able to innovate not just in the short term, but in the medium and long-term future as well.”
1Godfrey Hirst Australia Pty Ltd and Godfrey Hirst NZ Ltd are ‘carbon neutral’ organisations. This means that those entities purchase and voluntarily retire carbon offsets equivalent to their annual carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sources within their organisational boundary. For New Zealand, organisational GHG emissions are accounted for in accordance with ISO 14064-3:2018. For Australia, organisational GHG emissions are accounted for, and carbon neutral status is certified, in accordance with the requirements of Climate Active.