A Partnership Made in (Sustainable) Heaven: Kingspan Insulation in North America and CDI World USA.

CDI World

As a well-established creator of trade show and event structures and commercial interiors, CDI World USA prides itself on building long-lasting relationships. One such partnership is with Kingspan Insulation , LLC, a business unit of a leading global creator of sustainable insulation and building envelope solutions.

The two organizations have a lot in common; both are industry leaders, and both have a presence across the world. Kingspan and CDI World also share their commitment to sustainable practices. We caught up with Alec Minné, Marketing Director of Kingspan Insulation, LLC in North America, to talk about the value of sustainability in terms of business and the environments, and how the landscape might be changing.

Alec, the secret to a good relationship is shared values. For CDI World, sustainability is integral to the company’s values, so they are pleased to see rising demand from clients for sustainable products and practices.  How important is it to you that CDI World and your other partners are closely aligned with your sustainability targets?

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to accelerate a net zero emissions future built environment with the wellbeing of people and planet at its heart. To do this, we have very ambitious targets to meet. When it comes to our Planet Action Program, all vendors need to be reviewed in the context of the plan to ensure that our target remains on track.

You clearly have high standards both for your own departments and your suppliers. Are there specific criteria that you look for in your suppliers?

As a large organization operating across a host of departments, we use a lot of different vendors, which means it’s not viable for us to have a specific framework. However, our sustainability targets mean that sustainability processes are a factor in our ongoing partnership building.  

Our compliance program is central to this; there are sets of requirements in place that mean, for me as a marketing person to undertake specific activities, my proposals have to go through compliance approvals first. This means that we are continually forced to consider even the most seemingly insignificant sustainability issues that might be bypassed if the compliance program wasn’t in place.

It is clear that your sustainability goals exceed the expectations of most organizations. Do you feel that Kingspan could – and should – share your incredible initiatives across broader industries?

We do share! We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved – and what we continue to achieve – and celebrate our achievements as well as our aspirations in our annual Planet Passionate review.

For those who feel that sustainability is a choice, the economy can be a deciding factor. What do you think needs to be done centrally to encourage sustainability as something people can’t afford NOT to do? 

While for members of the Kingspan Group, sustainability is something we take personally, the American Institute of Architects has high sustainability goals. The AIA 2030 commitment is for net zero emissions by 2030. This means that everyone in the commercial building products industry is obliged to meet certain energy efficiency and sustainability criteria. This is something that we at Kingspan are pleased to be a part of. The building industry is responsible for 40% of the world’s emissions, so we have a large part to play in preserving our planet.

Kingspan’s initiatives and projects, such as ocean clean-ups, go above and beyond even the most diligent company’s bids to be greener. Do you think that there is an obligation for all organizations to take social and environmental responsibility outside of their direct line of operations? In an ideal world, what would this look like? 

I can’t speak for the entire industry! But on my part, I believe that every organization and individual needs to go further to eliminate further impact on the planet and reduce the impact that we have already made. The US building industry is made up of thousands of organizations of all sizes. Those different groups will have varying practices and impacts on the environment. While it is impossible to say what the future should look like; it is gratifying to see individuals and organizations of all sizes moving towards sustainable practices as the norm.

In time, it will be the case that people and organizations who don’t rethink their operations from an environmental perspective will be left behind. So, their choices will extend beyond economics and the planet, to necessity to survive.

What is your personal favorite project or product with Kingspan?

Well, that is a difficult one, because Kingspan is a whole group of businesses and Kingspan Insulation, LLC in North America is just one of those in the US. So, my favorite will be one that I deal with. I am a huge fan of this product, and it is one of the reasons that I came to this job – a product called Kooltherm. Kooltherm has the highest R value of rigid insulation that is (are?) commonly available. Although there are VIP panels with higher R value, our own OPTIM-R for example, they are less available and  more expensive.

Is it really true that you love Kooltherm so much that you wanted to work with it?

Yes! I have worked in insulation and cladding for most of my career. When I heard about Kooltherm opportunities, it was a big pull for me to work with Kingspan.

In terms of working with CDI world, why did you choose to partner with them?

CDI World has been the vendor of choice since before I came to Kingspan. However, over recent years, I have worked with them and found them positive and effective to work with. We have just started talking about how partners are making themselves more responsible with tradeshow booths – it’s a standing issue for us. People often spend more than they would pay for a nice house on a few days at a trade show, so we are excited to see where CDI World are going with their sustainability commitments, and the resulting impact on the trade show and commercial interiors industry.

Thank you very much for your time, Alec. It is clear that Kingspan Insulation North America is a trailblazer in much more than just insulation, and we look forward to seeing future transformations.

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