Product Transparency: showing a company’s “true” green effect

By: Jim Weglewski, VP of Quality, Sustainability & Facilities, Andersen Corporation

If change is the only constant in business, it’s safe to posit that climate change – and how effectively a business recognizes the risks and opportunities it presents – is the new constant on every CEO’s mind.

Customers are finally emerging in growing numbers to create the long-anticipated demand for more environmentally responsible product choices. And along with it, demand for information needed to make educated choices. Investors, likewise, seek detailed information about a company’s plans to manage climate risk and its impact on the environment. In a single word, the new world of climate change is ruled by one expectation: transparency.

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Transparency is one of the acid tests of integrity.  Businesses that act with high ethical standards, and those committed to a broader social or environmental purpose, welcome the new standards of disclosure. Ultimately, for a values-driven company, transparency doesn’t bring apprehension or change to business, but simply introduces a new currency of accountability and credibility.

Andersen Corporation is a 110-year old private company that recognizes the value of transparency outweighs the perceived risks of disclosure.  We are committed to transparency regarding our products and the environmental and social impacts those products may produce. The impacts of a given purchasing decision are rarely easy to see.  Making them visible and easy to interpret requires special commitment from the manufacturer.

Andersen is headquartered on the banks of the beautiful St. Croix River, a key tributary of the Upper Mississippi. The St. Croix carries the rare distinction of being a designated National Scenic Riverway. For decades, the pristine beauty of the river has been a powerful daily reminder of our responsibility to pass down a healthy ecosystem to the next generation. Responsibility has recently taken on a more objective meaning as we face growing risks from climate change. Our impact must be quantified and encompass a broad view of our products and operations, from material extraction to end-of-life.

Over time, as our customers have wanted to understand more about our products’ environmental impacts, we have started to share our commitment and progress externally. We became the first window company to issue a Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR) report. More of our customers (as well as their influencers) now understand that:

  • We source materials in a responsible manner from companies who share our respect for the environment, and seek out untapped opportunities to reduce waste and emissions in our operations.
  • We invest significant time and resources to develop innovative, industry-leading products that maximize energy efficiency, durability and healthy environments for our customers.
  • We apply “Life Cycle Thinking” to drive sustainable improvements across our value chain – from the forest, to our operations, to the home.
  • We’re developing mechanisms to address end-of-life challenges for windows and doors.

Consumers today recognize at growing rates how the way they live – and the products they choose for living their lives – has a lasting impact on the environment. For the consumer who’s investing more time and thought into a purchasing decision, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) offer a clearer analysis that won’t overwhelm and will truly inform. And, because both of these tools are generated using third-party methodologies, they offer a greater sense of impartial reassurance behind the data shared.

Everyone would like to contribute to a healthier, more stable world. We can all be part of the climate change solution by taking a long-term, systemic view of products’ overall environmental impacts.

Andersen Corporation can testify that transparency is not reserved for any single type of company. It can be applied regardless of industry or business size. In an era of climate change, companies that embrace product transparency will emerge as a leaders who “walk the talk” – and customers will reward their efforts.

© 2014 Andersen Corporation. All rights reserved.

Published by greenlivingguy

The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from: # Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions) # Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman # Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel # Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky # Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley # Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke # Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley # Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea # and more green living books to follow.

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