You're visiting the global website of Knauf Insulation

Mission to zero

By Knauf Insulation
August 18, 2021

Knauf Insulation is making transformational changes to its business to deliver net zero embodied products. ‘We have no choice but be ambitious,’ says our Products & Buildings Sustainability Manager.

Knauf Insulation is on a mission to decarbonise its manufacturing plants to meet its long-term commitment to deliver net zero embodied carbon products and solutions.

Jean-Pierre Pigeolet, Knauf Insulation’s Products & Buildings Sustainability Manager, says: “To keep this objective on track we set a 2025 target to reduce the embodied carbon of our products by 15%.

“It’s a very exciting time for the company because we are now investigating, brainstorming and challenging every aspect of our products’ lifecycle. To achieve our 2025 target, we have no choice except to be extremely ambitious.”

From the extraction of materials to their ultimate disposal, carbon dioxide is produced at every stage of a product’s lifecycle. At Knauf Insulation the vast bulk of this CO2, around 65%, is generated during plant manufacturing processes.

For example, the annual amount of electricity consumed by our plants is equivalent to the indirect emissions generated from powering 200,000 homes.

We have reduced our direct CO2 emissions by 23% since 2010, but we recognise that transforming our plants for the future plays a critical role in our decarbonisation.


Improving our supply of green power

Decarbonizing our production and products

So, how is Knauf Insulation implementing this transformation?

Well, plants are installing tens of thousands of photovoltaic panels and planning to install wind turbines to ensure green energy on-site. In some cases, plants that are generating their own electricity are capable of reducing their grid consumption by up to 30%.

In addition, contracts are also being drawn up with suppliers of ‘cleaner’ energy from wind, solar and hydro sources that are certified by what is known as a Guarantees of Origin to provide essential credible evidence of the source of the power.

“We are also examining what are known as Power Purchase Agreements which means creating a long-term contract with a developer of who, for example, is building a wind farm and can ensure a steady supply of renewable energy to the company over the long-term,” says Jean-Pierre.

Combining the potential of all these renewable energy sources means that there is the possibility for some Knauf Insulation Glass Mineral Wool plants to reduce the amount of CO2 generated indirectly by electricity by up to 90% in less than five years.

For  plants that need other energy supplies in addition to electricity, a more long-term vision is required, for example, examining the potential of alternative solutions such as carbon sequestration, hydrogen use and biogas.


Inspiring long-term carbon savings

In addition we are transferring to more efficient technology, committing to Continuous Improvement to save energy wherever possible, introducing new technical processes and every year organising an internal competition to allocate 10% of capital expenditure to plant projects that can demonstrate long-term carbon or waste savings.

Beyond manufacturing, our sites are finding new sources of used material that can be recycled and developing pioneering new recycling processes which generate less carbon that processing virgin materials.

Meanwhile, in terms of product delivery and packaging, we are using less carbon intensive methods such as giant ECO-COMBI trucks that can move larger loads of our product as well as train transportation in Eastern Europe, while new packaging and compression methods are also ensuring we can get more product per load.

We are also opening plants that are closer to our customers. Our new site in Malaysia is conveniently located to ship deliveries to Australia and New Zealand, while in the north of France our new Illange plant serves customers throughout Western Europe.

Ecocombi truck, zero carbon

Accelerating our zero carbon ambition

“The moral imperative to reduce our carbon footprint is stronger than ever,” says Jean-Pierre. “Extreme weather events throughout the summer such as fatal heatwaves in Canada or tragic floods in Belgium, Germany and China have all demonstrated the impact of climate change.

“And throughout this year we are seeing a raft of historic new legislation that will pave the way for Europe to be the first continent to be carbon neutral by 2050 as well as tougher penalties for those companies that ignore the environmental impact of their business.

“Knauf Insulation’s entire business model is based on making buildings more energy efficient and reducing their emissions, but as a company it is vital that we accelerate our ambitions to achieve zero carbon. Our people, our customers and our planet can’t wait.”