Cutting your carbon footprint while investing billions in green technology

In what may on the face of appear a slow economic time one firm is pouring investment into new green technology.

Peter Cartwright

Peter Cartwright

Hardly a week goes by without Dow Corning, or one of the many firms it owns, announcing new investment in green technologies - with a recent focus on silicone and solar.

The company has recently signed a $1.2M deal to create new silicone insulation system for the US government to help green housing.

While also developing a $1.2billion solar manufacturing plant in Tennessee, in the US, and investing around £9M in a Solar Energy Exploration/Development Centre (SEED) to expand its European work on silicon-based technologies.

However, the firm also aims to practice what it's preaching while it invests in green technology it also using the technology itself and keeping a diverse workforce thinking environmentally.

Dow Corning's Peter Cartwright - the vice president for environment, health and safety- has just that task.

With offices in North America, Brazil, across Asia and Europe the Cardiff based Mr Cartwright task is making sure the organisation maintains aggressive environmental targets while overseeing a huge global expansion.

Speaking to Mr Cartwright explained how the firm is working on everything from reducing water use in denim manufacturing to having 100% wind powered offices and silicone insulation.

He said: "We've sourced our power for our corporate centres 100% from wind so we're putting out money where our mouth is, but we're a global business with global concerns.

"And saving water is developing countries is a priority for us, as ironically these countries where the need is greatest are home to large-scale clothing manufacturing which is very water intensive."

While estimates vary on the amount of water needed to make a pair of jeans a figure of around 1,800 gallons is generally accepted to be about right.

"Our work is saving water in developing countries by creating the equipment to make an items like a pair of jeans using just four gallons of water."

While stating he's not working on the research and development side of the business Mr Cartwright sees exciting things happening in silicone.

The firm is working hard on using silicone to create a facade for commercial buildings which could reduce energy use by acting as insulation, after winning funding from the US Government.

Mr Cartwright also works with a diverse range of staff from across the world, but says they all understand the need to be green.

"The attitude of our worker is very important to us as they're the ones who take the company forward.

"But, I've found that everyone is onboard with the company's drive to be more environmentally friendly.

"They all understand that when we selling our products people increasingly like to know the carbon footprint of the firms making them.

"So it doesn't just make good environmental sense it also makes good business sense."

Looking to the future he added: "Solar power will continue to be a massive growth area.

"Depending on where you are, you're going to get a pay back of around five or six times what you invested."

Luke Walsh


building materials


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