by Amy Musanti,
Sustainability Director, ASSA ABLOY
It’s no wonder we’re seeing such strong growth in healthier buildings and more sustainable urban environments right now. Sustainability is top of mind for architects, interior designers, building experts and occupants everywhere today.
According to a 2021 Forbes market report, 47% of engineering and construction executives surveyed worldwide believe it’s a key priority or major concern. In fact, the market for green certified building is expected to expand at a faster pace than the construction market in general. As a result, demand is accelerating for products that promote environmental and material transparency.
There’s also a push for more robust, reliable and resilient products that can withstand severe rain, hurricanes, fire and extreme temperatures stemming from the effects of climate change. Robust solutions tend to be more sustainable thanks to their increased resilience and life expectancy.
ASSA ABLOY’s long-term commitment to a sustainable future
From our perspective, sustainability includes concern for the environment, sustainable products, health and safety, social responsibility and business partner compliance. Sustainability is vital to our economic and industrial development. It’s a strategic priority for ASSA ABLOY and why we consider it everyone’s responsibility at our company.
We know that sustainable manufacturing takes time to develop and progress. Results are not always immediate, so it’s imperative to set a baseline and then work towards achievable targets. Efforts can range from something as small as incorporating recycling on the factory floor or in the café to larger initiatives like looking at paint usage on the production line at our door manufacturing plant. Empowering employees with the chance to contribute ideas and take action to help us reach our sustainability goals keeps our teams motivated and morale high.
A top-down company-wide initiative
We've always had strong support from our leadership for our sustainability program and the way that it's incorporated into what we do as a global manufacturing company. While we have larger goals that are set from a global perspective, we’re also able to achieve sustainability at a localized, grassroots level and can start at each of our manufacturing facilities.
To help us succeed, our product development teams use ASSA ABLOY’s Sustainability Compass. It’s an internal tool that serves as a guide to incorporate specific reductions before a product goes to market—a visual reference of all the sustainability aspects for new or improved products that focuses on reducing water consumption, energy in use, materials and waste while increasing a product’s life, recyclability and reusability.
All cross-functional team members have visibility to the compass to help them consider the impact sustainability has on business decisions and to ensure we’re always taking steps to improve our standing as good environmental citizens.
Sustainability and the ASSA ABLOY product lineup
Research and innovation have allowed us to incorporate sustainability into a wide variety of products and solutions. The products may have energy saving attributes or include an improved ingredient. The key is to take every stage of a product’s life into consideration. Most manufacturers aren’t used to going this deep. They often look at product sustainability only as it relates to its use stage.
At ASSA ABLOY, we take a comprehensive approach and use life cycle assessment tools to understand the product’s impact and footprint. It covers everything from extraction of raw material, transportation, manufacturing and packaging to installation, usage and product end of life. Our door frames, doors, levers, pulls, hinges, locks, card readers, and nearly every product in between have a unique sustainability attribute.
If you’re an architect or designer who is very deliberate in your decision-making and product research, you know that ASSA ABLOY is a leader in this space and how our door security solutions contribute to a progressive built environment. For others, the tendency might be to think of sustainable products from a more obvious or larger ticket perspective like lighting, HVAC, windows, furniture and finishes.
To expand awareness and the knowledge base, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to provide further education on how doors, door frames and door hardware fit into the sustainability picture and the important ways our solutions can help fulfill the expectations and demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) modern building industry.
ASSA ABLOY constantly monitors international legislation regarding material content to make sure we comply with sustainability regulations for any substances of concern and restricted materials.
To simplify the selection process, we work with two lists: one with materials that should be avoided and another that guides the best choice from a sustainability perspective. Both guide our sourcing organization and our suppliers.
The lists are aligned with international and European legislation and directives such as REACH, RoHS, California proposition 65 and US Conflict Minerals Law. In 2021 we complemented the lists with the US Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) of restricted and declarable substances.
The information coalesces into the ASSA ABLOY Materials Reference Sheet, which works in harmony with the Sustainability Compass to help designers make better environmental choices when developing new products. We continue to update the list of restricted materials by adding or removing recommended materials and following the scientific development in the field of substances of concern.
One of the most beneficial pieces of information generated by complying with the compass and bringing a better product to market comes from our environmental product declarations (EPDs). EPDs contain what we call an LCA or life cycle assessment. That gives us the data we need to understand the sustainability impact of our products during their lifetime.
Greenwashing practices can make it difficult for customers to identify truly responsible building products. That’s why we have found that it’s very important to work closely with third party organizations to reinforce our commitment to transparency. Third-party verifiers like GreenCircle Certified help audit and validate claims made around the sustainability attributes of our products and solutions. Third-party verified EPDs, Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Declare Labels, add a level of accountability as well as trust for the customer.
Partnering on innovation with integrators and distributors
Along with architects and designers, a very progressive network of customers, integrators and dealers is helping to drive us toward further advancements in sustainability. We always encourage them to think differently about the contributors to a secure and sustainable built environment. “And” is the key word here. They can have both—sustainability and security.
For instance, electronic access control (EAC) products from ASSA ABLOY are designed to be energy efficient and to use power from existing infrastructure like PoE and WiFi. We’ve also reduced the material and labor that goes into our EAC solutions which results in a smaller product footprint.
Many end users, especially those in higher education, have very ambitious energy reduction or footprint reduction goals, and our progressive EAC solutions work very well to help them reach those targets without ever sacrificing infrastructure integrity or security.
A sustainable building is also most certainly one that keeps its occupants healthy and happy. For quite some time, our industry focused largely on the operational footprint of the building. Today, we understand that it is also imperative to focus on the health and wellness of its occupants.
The USGBC found we spend about 90% of our time indoors. That’s one reason why many green building certification programs around the world now place more weight on these elements. This encourages manufacturers to focus on product optimization and using better ingredients. Compliance is a true testament to forward thinking companies and building owners that are focused on creating environments that are holistically smart, responsible, efficient, safe and healthy.
Training for sustainability
The most important thing we can do when thinking about the adoption of sustainability is to take the time to craft a message that is relevant to everyone in the room, not just sustainability experts. We then need to make sure we reinforce this message regularly. This applies to our ASSA ABLOY teams as well as architects, builders, integrators and end users.
While we’re proud of the tremendous progress we’ve made so far, our sights are set on perpetually improving our sustainability processes and developing even better sustainable products for the building industry.
Find further details about ASSA ABLOY’s Sustainability Program, including our Science Based Targets initiative and our Sustainability Report 2021.
Also, be sure to watch the video featuring ASSA ABLOY’s Sustainability Director, Amy Musanti and Innovation Manager, Michelle Cline.