Celebrating Water Sustainability at GAF

By Annie Crawford 03-19-2021
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As a roofing industry leader, GAF puts a high priority on its efforts toward conservation and sustainability.

Across energy and efficiency to recycling, waste diversion, material optimization, and social responsibility, GAF consistently strives to conserve natural resources and protect surrounding communities.

A significant part of that effort is water sustainability. The United Nations celebrates World Water Day annually on March 22 to protect and conserve fresh water around the globe, and this year's theme is "valuing water." Water is vital to all aspects of work at GAF. From a manufacturing perspective, water is integral to the production of our roofing products that protect homes around the world. From a human perspective, fresh water means life for each and every valued GAF employee, their families, and their communities.

With water stewardship as a key tenet to the company's sustainability efforts, GAF has recently completed three major water conservation projects at its facilities in Shafter, California; Mt. Vernon, Indiana; and Tampa, Florida.

Thanks to ever-improving technology and engineering innovations, the improvements at these three facilities promote conservation of fresh water in GAF's manufacturing process. The ability to reduce water usage and protect this precious commodity benefit the facilities, employees, surrounding communities, and the entire world.

A Water Win in Shafter

The Shafter plant, which manufactures fiberglass mats for GAF and external customers, recently installed a 100% closed loop water system which is set to reap major water sustainability rewards. "The new solution included installation of piping and tanks that could repurpose over five million gallons of processed water annually from the reverse osmosis water purification system," said Bonnie Sharphouse, Sustainability Manager at GAF. "This effort has resulted in redistributing over five million gallons back into the Shafter community."

This water—previously discharged to the public sewer utility—will now be reused as cooling makeup water, which recirculates in the manufacturing process.

The Shafter closed loop system not only recycles water and reduces burden on the city sewer utility, but it also results in significant water savings.

"The system has proven to reduce our water consumption by an average of 194,000 gallons per month," said Rick Quiroz, environmental engineer at the Shafter plant. This results in a direct benefit to not only the surrounding community but the entire United States.

"Central Valley, where the Shafter plant is located, is home to four million Californians. It also produces about one-third of the nation's fruits and vegetables," said Quiroz.

Ample water in the valley helps feed the country. The water conservation at Shafter demonstrates how local efforts can ripple out and help support food production, and life, for all.

New and Improved in Tampa and Mt. Vernon

The Shafter plant is not the only GAF facility with water-saving capabilities.

In Mt. Vernon, Indiana, GAF reduced cooling water use by 10%-15% thanks to engineering upgrades. Additional filtration, a booster pump for better water pressure, and eliminating one water source in the manufacturing process all contributed to this water win.

In the Tampa, Florida plant, a new closed loop system recirculates cooling water and works toward a goal of zero discharge.

Make World Water Day Personal

On World Water Day and every day moving forward, anyone can turn the lens toward their own home and find ways to turn water conservation into a daily habit.

"Fixing leaky faucets and watering your lawn wisely are easy ways to conserve water," said Quiroz. Even an action as simple as turning off the water tap while brushing your teeth helps the planet.

"Remember not to take our access to water for granted," encouraged Sharphouse. "Treat it as a precious commodity so that we can conserve it in our communities, for others, and for future generations to come."

What small water conservation steps can you take today to make a positive ripple effect in our world? Read more about GAF's water conservation and overall sustainability efforts in the 2020 Social Impact Report. The report can be downloaded on GAF's Sustainability page.

Annie Crawford is a freelance writer in Oakland, CA, covering travel, style, and home improvement. Find more of her work at annielcrawford.com.
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