Sustainable Development: The Journey

March 28, 2003
The unmistakable trend to implement sustainable development measures in the commercial marketplace continues to gain momentum.
Seen as a necessary step to ensure the present and future health of our planet and population, sustainable development is a concept first articulated in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission. “Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable Development Helps Business
Why is sustainable development important? By providing a new framework for decisionmaking, issues are considered from a multi-dimensional point of view. Success is measured not simply by the profit generated, but by the triple bottom line of economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and corporate social responsibility. Besides simply making good common sense, adhering to the principles of sustainable development fulfills compelling business needs as well, including:
Reducing costs and liabilitiesEncouraging innovation and stimulating growthStrengthening relationships with our communities Enhancing brand image and reputationIncreasing customer loyaltyAt Dow, It’s More Than Just a Trend
The benefits of sustainable development are clearly within the grasp of those committed to its principles. It is an absolute requirement for success in this new millennium. Professor Tom Gladin of the University of Michigan School of Business Administration, stated it well when he said, “Sustainability represents the number one megatrend that will change the rules of global business... Innovative companies will surely find ways of exploiting logic for gaining relative advantage via lowering costs, differentiating products and service, leveraging experience and core competencies and discovering new market and geographic strategies.” With Dow, sustainable development is more than just a trend. It’s the reality of the business environment in which we operate. At Dow, the integration of sustainable development has resulted in an evolution of our culture, touching every aspect of how and why we do our jobs. This commitment to sustainable development has received significant recognition.
The Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes recognized Dow as the top performer for the global chemical industry group. This is the second year that Dow has held the industry leadership position.In 2001, the company received its fifth EPA Green Chemistry Award and an American Chemical Council Responsible Care® Award. Sustainable Results with Dow Performance Carpet Backings
Dow’s efforts in polyurethane carpet backings are designed to meet the specific needs of the commercial marketplace. According to the Business Manager for Dow’s Polyurethane Floor Coverings business, “Our research program is focused on reducing the environmental footprint of our performance backings. By maintaining an active program with the design and specification community, we stay current on the trends that influence floor coverings in the commercial marketplace. This guides the creation of sustainable solutions using our expertise in science and technology. Dow BIOBALANCE* polymers, which incorporate renewable soybean-based components, are a great example of this process in action.”
BIOBALANCE polymers are the latest of many developments at Dow for which sustainability is the cornerstone. BIOBALANCE polymers incorporates soybean oil, a 100% renewable resource, as a replacement in a portion of the chemistry used in making polyurethane carpet backings. This technological advancement supports the agricultural community and utilizes a renewable commodity that offers a stable supply. BIOBALANCE polymers, which are available through Universal Textile Technologies, LLC (UTT), are incorporated into a non-cushioned product designed for high traffic applications and a high performance cushioned backing for improved underfoot comfort. As with all of Dow’s cushioned backings, the mechanical froth process used in manufacturing the cushion uses no CFCs1, only compressed air, a benefit since its inception nearly twenty years ago. Supporting Green Building Practices
As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Dow is working to provide its customers with the latest environmental information and the best product options under the LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry, working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. Carpet systems meeting the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Indoor Air Quality Test Program are eligible for one point in the LEED system, a requirement made easier through the low VOC2 characteristic that has been designed into Dow polyurethane carpet backings. Additional credit may be available for specifying carpet with backing innovations from Dow as described below. Due to the evolving nature of the LEED guidelines, utilizing the services of a LEED-certified expert is advisable.
Life Cycle Case Study
Serving to confirm the benefits of Dow’s cushioned carpet backing technology is a recently published case study. In a paper by Jeffery L. Campbell, Ph.D., Chair of the Facilities Management Program in the College of Engineering and Technology at Brigham Young University (BYU), Dow’s technology was highlighted for its ability to extend the life of carpet and reduce life cycle costing.3 The extensive study involved analysis of four variables and approximately 3.2 million square feet of space at BYU, of which 75% included a polyurethane backing. The findings are an outstanding testimony, with annual savings of $0.15 per ft2 realized through the use of a polyurethane cushioned backing, amounting to savings of over $360,000 per year. These savings are attributed to increased product life expectancy, which ultimately impacts business interruption, carpet removal, and land fill costs. Additional savings are realized through reduced maintenance costs. Equally impressive are the findings on life cycle extension. Through the use of Dow’s technology, BYU has changed its life cycle expectations and related budgeting for carpet from 7.5 years to 11.5 years, an improvement of over 53%. Renewable and Recycled – The Whole Package
Through a joint development program with Universal Textile Technologies, LLC, recycled postindustrial polyurethane is now being incorporated into Dow performance backings. Also, UTT provides the exclusive manufacturing capability for Dow carpet backing with BIOBALANCE polymers. In addition, UTT offers a non-woven outer surface that is comprised of 100% postconsumer recycled PET.4 Overall this provides a significant level of recycled and renewable content (Table 1). Notably, LEED credit may be available for specifying carpet with BIOBALANCE polymers in the category of rapidly renewable materials. Dow performance backings should also be considered for their contribution to LEED categories for facility-wide recycle content as well as compliance with emissions standards of the adhesive used for installation.
Table 1 Renewable/Recycled ComponentBacking ComponentBIOBALANCE Polymers Precoat system Post-consumer PET Secondary fabric Post-industrial recycled polyurethane Precoat system Total 15 – 18% of the backing weight The JourneyDow’s enduring culture of innovation originates from the company’s founder, Herbert H. Dow, who asked his employees, “If you can’t do it better, why do it?” and who exemplified some 100 years ago a commitment to the community in which he lived. The integration of sustainable development principles into our business is a natural step for us as a company. Dow will serve society and create shareholder value through environmental stewardship, corporate social responsibility, and economic prosperity. Why? Because we believe these commitments help our employees achieve, customers succeed, consumers live better lives, shareholders prosper and communities thrive. For additional information on sustainable development at Dow visit 1. CFC – Chlorofluorocarbon
2. VOC – Volatile Organic Compound
3. Campbell Ph.D., J. L. “BYU Research Shows Dow Technology Adds Life to Carpet,” April 2002.
4. PET – Polyethylene terephthalate, a polymer commonly used to make soft drink bottles
Published March 2003 NOTICE: No freedom from any patent owned by Dow or others is to be inferred. Because use conditions and applicable laws may differ from one location to another and may change with time, Customer is responsible for determining whether products and the information in this document are appropriate for Customer’s use and for ensuring that Customer’s workplace and disposal practices are in compliance with applicable laws and other governmental enactments. Dow assumes no obligation or liability for the information in this document. NO WARRANTIES ARE GIVEN: ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR USE ARE EXPRESSLY EXCLUDED.

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