Going Green

March 2, 2015
Security product manufacturers are searching for inventive ways to lower costs – both for them and their customers -- while maintaining a high level of product quality

Saving resources was a patriotic duty during World War II.  People saved spheres of gum wrapper tin foil and donated their collection to the war effort.  Gasoline and car tires were rationed and women stopped wearing nylon hose in order to save that material for parachutes.  Some Ilco keys during war time were made in two pieces. The bow was die-cast material and only the blade was made of brass in order to save material for making shell casings. The two parts of the key were stamped together with a "V" shaped stamp.  Known as Victory keys, they are now collector items.   

Concern for the future of Earth was not a consideration during WWII. The government needed every commodity to fight a world war and the public did what they were told to do.  As soon as the war ended, conspicuous consumption took over and the economy was driven full speed ahead by pent-up demand. A prime example of largess in the post-war era was the unnecessary tail fins on monster-sized, gas-guzzler vehicles of the late 1950s.

A different picture is appearing today. Rain forests are shrinking as acres of trees are harvested.  The Ozone layer is disappearing over the North Pole. Fish populations are declining. Global warming is a hot-button issue. Whether global warming is real or not, there are certainly reasons enough for a continued study of the subject.

Most manufacturers depend on raw materials to make their products.  Emissions from factories can contribute to lowering of air quality.  By-product waste material from factories can pollute water supplies and clog land-fills.  In an effort to solve these problems, government regulations serve to add further costs to consumer goods as manufacturers try to comply. As supplies of some raw materials become scarce and as regulations increase manufacturing costs, many companies are searching for inventive ways to lower costs while maintaining a high level of product quality.  Locksmith Ledger sent inquiries to companies in the security industry and the following examples show some 'going green' initiatives from companies who responded.

Kaba Ilco Corp. has a brass mill which produces strips of flat stock required for making key blanks. Sixty percent of the flat stock material produces usable key blanks and 40 percent of the flat stock becomes waste material. The company realized that reducing waste would save cost and would help save the environment. As a solution, a brass foundry was built in 1985 at their Rocky Mount, NC, factory. Forty percent waste material from key blank stamping, brass shavings from key cutting operations and scrap brass from outside sources are melted together to produce reusable brass strips for the key blank stamping operation. Savings to the environmental include:  less electric energy used to melt scrap metal than to produce new metal, lowering of emissions and air pollution, lowering of water and land pollution and savings of natural resources.   

Bob Cronk, from Select Products, looks at green savings from another viewpoint. Select continuous hinges solve a problem that most butt hinges have. Butt hinges can periodically wear out and require replacement. Select continuous hinges have been independently tested to exceed 25 million cycles which is equal to over 50 years of high-traffic usage.  This is 10 times the amount of cycles needed to meet Grade 1 cycle count.  Select Products report that using a hinge with the longest life cycle saves tons of metal and energy. Select Product hinges also contain up to 100% pre-consumer re-cycled aluminum for their hinges.

The Medeco and Arrow factory in Salem, VA is another 'going green' example. This writer has visited many different manufacturing facilities and has always been impressed by the clean working conditions at the Medeco factory. A sustainability initiative was began in 2014 by president Tom Kaika.  Internal changes such as eliminating styrofoam from the food service, installing water coolers to discourage use of plastic bottles, turning off lights when not needed and reducing the use of office paper are some of the changes already in use.  

Pemko Eco-V options have achieved Greenguard Gold certification.  Products certified by Greenguard meet standards for low chemical emissions into indoor air during usage.  Eco-V material replaces Pemko's traditional vinyl. Vinyl materials are manufactured from a minimum of 25% renewable carbon. The material surpasses the quality and durability of traditional vinyl resulting in a longer service life.  Pemko is part of the Assa Abloy group. Another example of going green are products made by Assa Abloy companies,  Corbin Russwin and Sargent.  Their EcoFlex technology is used in electrified mortise locks to draw less power and provide up to 96% energy savings versus standard electrified mortise locks.

The United States Green Building Council sponsors a program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  During either new construction or a major building rehab, correct choices in building materials and building design can earn LEED certification points. Hardware made from recycled materials and hardware which emits low amounts of volatile organic compounds help gain LEED points for the owners. LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants according to LEED documents. While locksmiths are not usually involved with new construction, hardware which can provide LEED points is usually in the going green category. 

Going green can be a winning formula for everyone. Whether recycled packaging is used, recycled raw materials are used, manufacturing energy or/and polution is reduced or if the product life cycle is extended, it is a step in the right direction.  Consider companies who consider the environment every time you make a purchase.  Spaceship Earth is depending on you.