DIRTT Environmental Solutions
DIRTT takes great pride in reducing our carbon footprint and that of our clients. Our DIRTT walls mitigate the need for drywall by creating modular interior construction solutions that allow the walls to work for you – embedding technology, beds, couches and plants into the wall cavity. This unique solution to environmentally disastrous drywall is manufactured out of aluminum frames that are covered with glass or beautifully finished tiles. These tiles can be removed in the event the client needs to get into the wall for repairs or technology changes reducing the need to throw gypsum board into the landfill. Our wall sections sit on top of the existing flooring reducing carpet waste in the installation process. At DIRTT we reduce our CO2 emissions by feeding our employees lunch at the factory so they don’t need to drive off site to eat. We also encourage our employees to carpool and recognize the employees who take advantage of this option. The factory uses RUUD Tankless Water Heaters to reduce our water usage and houses three solar arrays that generate over 10% of our electricity. Our marketing materials are all on our website and accessible to the general public so we don’t use printed materials. Finally our patented ICE software is the tool we use in the design process for DIRTT. It allows the designer to build out a virtual model of a DIRTT solution in a 2-D and 3-D environment and then create ICE visions that simulate the space in a way that can be shared over the internet. This reduces the need for wasteful models and paper plans.
How does this company exemplify the concept of “reusing”?
There are several ways we reuse materials at DIRTT both in our products and in our manufacturing processes. For example, we have small plastic “cookies” that fit neatly between our wall sections during transportation to prevent any damage. Each installation project receives a small box that says “Please don’t toss your cookies” in which the cookies are placed and returned to the factory to be reused. Actually one of the great things about DIRTT is that the solution is meant to be reusable. Our “write away” and back painted glass surfaces can be used to make notes using dry erase markers reducing the need for paper note pads and can be reused over and over with no shadowing. DIRTT power and networks are plug and play systems in which the electrical is fished through our whips that plug together in the work space. The whips can be reconfigured and reused as needed. Finally we have a software program called ICEcycle in which a new DIRTT solution can be designed using the existing inventory of DIRTT products allowing the client to reuse their tiles and aluminum frames in the new configuration of their space.
What is this company’s recycling policy and practice?
As one of only four certified B Corporations in the state of Arizona, DIRTT takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously by carefully tracking our recycling practices. We boast a 92% recycle rate for our factory and cafeteria including the composting of 100% of our food waste. In fact, on an average monthly basis we divert from the landfill 100 pounds of paper, 1000 pounds of cardboard, 2,800 pounds of PVC, 35,000 pounds of aluminum,12,000 pounds of lumber and 390 pounds of food waste. We even track where recycled materials go once they leave our facility. For example, our aluminum is provided by Sapa and Apel both out of Portland Oregon and CRI, a local recycling service provider sends all unused cuts and shards to Hydro Aluminum in Phoenix where they melt it and make into new extrusions. The aluminum shards alone bring in approximately $2,000 on a monthly basis.
Cradle to cradle manufacturing is becoming a very popular solution for recycling and we have a couple of vendors that practice this method of sustainability. Vinylex not only provides us our PVC but accepts all cuts from production to be reintroduced into their production stream. Bluepoint Applegate out of Savannah, Georgia manufactures insulation made out of recycled denim that we use inside of our wall systems. Any denim insulation that is cut away or goes unused is returned to the manufacturer to be entered back into the production process. Not only is the denim insulation a better product than the traditional fiberglass insulation but it is much more environmentally friendly!
CRI sends our recyclable cardboard and paper to a local cardboard mill and they also send our wood to Grow Well where it is repurposed into things like shredding for animal cages and woodchips for playgrounds or yards. Global Green Integrators collects our food waste and also sends it to Grow Well for composting. Eventually we will be using the dirt manufactured from our food waste in our vertical garden that proudly stands outside our factory! Beyond that we also recycle our scrap copper wires and other metal with various local scrap buyers.
How is this company engaging and informing consumers and employees about the 3 “Rs” and other sustainable practices?
DIRTT tracks our sustainable practices very carefully as described in the previous sections. We communicate these statistics to our employees though DIRTT TV which plays in the cafeteria during the day. This includes our CO2 reduction, who won the carpool award for the month as well as our community giving initiatives. A leadership team for environmental practices meets once a month to review the data around our recycling efforts and make suggestions about how to improve on our sustainability story locally. At a corporate level we have a DIRTTbag dedicated to sharing our sustainability efforts with the company employees through a monthly newsletter as well as publicizing our efforts to our distribution partners and vendors. DIRTT Phoenix received the award of merit from Valley Forward for being the “Greenest Factory on the Planet” in 2012 and the Excellence in Sustainability Award from the Arizona Manufacturers Council in 2013. We host an average of over 25 events and tours per month where we share our sustainability story and encourage others to do the same. DIRTT also co-sponsored two Lunch and Learns for the Arizona Technology Council on B-Corporations to describe the process and benefits of becoming a B-Corp. Local DIRTTbags are encouraged to be actively involved in the community especially with like-minded organizations such as the Green Chamber, Arizona Forward and the United States Green Building Council.
What else would you like us to know about this company?
DIRTT stands for Doing It Right This Time. Our company manufactures walls, doors, flooring and modular interiors that create flexible, contemporary spaces. We do it using materials and practices that reduce or eliminate waste — and make money. In five years, DIRTT doubled its revenue and prevented more than 65 million pounds of manufacturing waste from ending up in landfills. DIRTT is based in Calgary Canada and has four manufacturing facilities, the greenest of which is here in Phoenix. Our unique culture is all about supporting a triple bottom line philosophy of people, planet and profit. So not only do we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously but are committed to the people we work with and the community we serve. Some examples of this include sending our employees out to volunteer in the community when there is a slow cycle in manufacturing instead of laying people off. We also have a full workout room in our factory for our employees to use when they are on a break or on their days off. To incentivize them to keep themselves in shape DIRTT has a program called FIT YOU where the employees who work out can put their names in a hat for end-of-month prizes. Employees who drive hybrid vehicles willing to put the company logo on the side of their car are given a $300 car allowance per month. With two full time chefs on staff and a beautiful cafeteria area our employees enjoy a full lunch and plentiful snacks during their work day and we invite local organizations to use our facility for networking events, meetings and ceremonies at no cost to them. They hired a local DIRTTbag to do community outreach for the company and have done several fundraisers for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House and United Way. Finally the company is very flat in that there are no titles and everyone is just as important as the other. Even our CEO and President sit at desks just like anyone else at DIRTT. It is such a privilege to be part of this amazing company that had the foresight eight years ago to create beautiful interior environments in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.