The business case for sustainable flooring manufacturing

by Ofentse Sefolo
The business case for sustainable flooring manufacturing

Belgotex Floors recently announced that it was awarded 6 stars in South Africa’s first custom Green Star SA – Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating for an industrial facility from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). This certification recognises “World Leadership” at its Pietermaritzburg-based factory for its sustainability practices in all aspects of their plant and carpet manufacturing operations.

While eco-consciousness and sustainability are a major drive behind any energy efficient building project, there is also a solid case behind such an initiative. Being Green Star SA rated ticks a number of boxes and gives manufacturers, property developers and designers bragging rights, and it makes the environment as well as businesses more sustainable in a number of ways, says Kevin Walsh, Chief Operating Officer at Belgotex Floors.

“Sustainable buildings can make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line. One of the reasons why Belgotex embarked on this ambitious green project is because there are cost savings,” explains Kevin.

A number of Belgotex’s green initiatives are contributing to massive savings within the business. Some of these initiatives include the recycling of waste material back into products, installing solar panels to reduce the company’s demand for grid-supplied electricity and rainwater harvesting initiatives that reduce the water bill. Even the energy-efficient machinery and equipment that Belgotex has invested in contribute to utility cost savings.

“There’s a lot to be said about the business case of going green. Everything from our water management system to on-going monitoring, metering and learning resources contribute to the lives of employees and the sustainability of our country. I would encourage more manufacturers to explore ways of becoming more sustainable that will lead to money saving within their businesses,” says Kevin.

Virtually any business can benefit from green initiatives. Replacing traditional lights with energy saving LEDS or installing lighting sensors so that lights are only switched on when there are occupants in the room, for example, may seem like small steps, but these costs add up and can lead to significant reductions in utility bills.

Belgotex went above and beyond to find green solutions at their factory and the GBCSA rewarded them with extra credits for innovation on a number of initiatives including eco-innovative production processes; product development strategies; faster and more efficient machinery; raw material input strategy; reduction of energy and waste and increased recycled content.

“Our new waste fibre-recycling machine means that we have up to 20% energy saving on this production process while simultaneously reducing production waste. Our rainwater harvesting and dry manufacturing processes have reduced municipal waste by 64%. These are significant numbers in a large business such as Belgotex,” says Kevin.

Installation of a R17 million photovoltaic (PV solar plant, coupled with a R2.4 million investment in energy-efficient LED lights and motion sensors, also led to R1.4 million savings in electricity at Belgotex in 2016. Extensive plant upgrades to faster, more efficient equipment reduced operating expenses for LPG by a massive R1.56 million. The company also achieved between 35 – 45% reduction in water consumption by switching their entire carpet production to dry manufacturing processes.

“The idea that sustainability comes with a hefty price tag is misleading. There are definitely bottom line benefits for businesses going sustainable and I would encourage every professional entity in the built environment to look at ways to save money while greening their business,” concludes Kevin.

For more information, contact Belgotex Floors on +27 (33) 897 7500 or via www.belgotexfloors.co.za.

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