About Andersen Corporation
Andersen Corporation is a 113 year-old Minnesota window and door manufacturing company located on the scenic St. Croix River. According to its website, the company was founded by Danish immigrant Hans Andersen and his family in Hudson, Wisconsin. Andersen is one of the most prominent window manufacturing companies in the country; most people have, or know someone who has Andersen Windows in their home or business.
Headquartered in Bayport, Minnesota, the company has 10,000 employees working in over 20 locations. Andersen Corporation is a leader in environmentally sustainable practices. Led by company goals and policies, Andersen strives to address environmental and sustainability issues through its products and day-to-day operations. Andersen chose to pursue ENERGY STAR® certification for its facilities in order to increase the energy efficiency of its building operations and achieve its corporate sustainability goals.
Metro CERT* interviewed Andersen Corporation about their sustainability efforts to better understand how a company uses ENERGY STAR® to meet their sustainability goals.
Path to ENERGY STAR®
ENERGY STAR® is a building certification program offered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Building owners benchmark the energy use of their facilities using software called Portfolio Manager, which tracks energy consumption over time. Upon completing data entry buildings are rated on a scale of 1 to 100. A score of 75 or higher qualifies a building for ENERGY STAR® certification. Buildings that are certified tend to use 35% energy, on average, less than typical buildings. Further buildings that are benchmarked save approximately 7% simply because someone is paying attention.
Andersen first achieved ENERGY STAR® certification in 2009 and recently renewed its certification in 2015. In line with corporate-wide sustainability practices, the facilities management team was motivated by the ENERGY STAR® program to dive deep into energy saving opportunities throughout their buildings.
Andersen Windows first building to pursue ENERGY STAR® status was a 1970s strip mall called the St. Croix Mall. At first, Andersen took over the Kmart facility (anchor store in the strip mall) in 2000. The rest remained a mall and was used to house their IT team. They did some minimal remodeling to convert the space into an office.
In 2002, Andersen took over the rest of the St. Croix Mall and made major renovations to improve the look of the building. The building has 9 electric meters, 6 gas, and 7 places for water. In addition, they have 55 HVAC systems on the roof—a lot of equipment to maintain.
Benefits of Participating in ENERGY STAR®
The ENERGY STAR® program has increased awareness and importance of energy efficiency and conservation in business operations. Using the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager to track energy consumption over time allows the facilities team to understand building energy use and identify and address issues that arise.
Michael Robole, facilities manager says, “We look more at the comfort of the employees. We have seen the impact of setting thermostat at 68, which provides better management and use of energy. It has helped Andersen Windows make decisions and understand the impact for employees comfort and the energy savings. Everyone has a different internal temperature.”
Michael adds that the typical practice for facilities staff is “if something breaks, you fix it.” ENERGY STAR® allows facilities managers to have “exposure to the other side of the coin, thinking about consumption of natural resources etc., not only financial” They try to answer the question, “What impact does this have on the world?”
While the certification itself does not have a cost, there is an expense associated with verifying the data. The cost to hire engineers to conduct data verification has been $2,500 a year, which is minimal in comparison to the energy savings. The ENERGY STAR® process also requires a minimum amount of time from staff to gather and record energy data in Portfolio Manager.
The staff in charge at Andersen emphasized that it is not a lot of work or time. They found that the program had far more benefits than they realized and recommend that other companies explore the program.
Andersen’s Sustainability Culture
The motivation to pursue sustainability runs deep in the company. Situated on the banks of the St. Croix River, nature is highly valued, and this value is shared by many of Andersen’s employees. In addition to recently announcing corporate goals to reduce energy, waste and water by 20% by 2020, Andersen is working to engage employees in their sustainability initiatives. They have recently rolled out an effort to increase recycling, including organics. Sustainability Analyst, Annie Perkins says, “it’s the right thing to do, it connects our work with employees, and helps us meet our goals.”
At the same time that Andersen Corporation developed its 2020 goals, they signed the CERES (Coalition for Environmental Responsible Economies) climate declaration. They have incorporated sustainability goals that are integrated throughout the company and require collaboration across departments. Andersen has found this to be the best way to further their sustainability goals.
Andersen suggests that companies thinking about pursuing ENERGY STAR® certification should involve a third party, such as an engineering firm. “Look at who you partner with. Use someone who will explain the process and teach you vs. just paying someone to do it and you don’t understand it. It’s best if they can provide context around the data,” says Michael Robole.
Looking to the Future
As if this wasn’t enough, recently Andersen Corporation started the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process, and has recently announced a bold, new initiativeto purchase up to 19 MW of solar power through community solar garden subscriptions!
*Operated by the Great Plains Institute, Metro CERT is one of seven regions that comprise Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) — a statewide partnership of four organizations working to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects.