Industrial Louvers Inc. (ILI) is proud to announce it is the first metals manufacturer to receive Petal Certification for its painted sunshade products through the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Product Challenge (LPC). ILI’s painted sunshades earned 19 of 20 Imperatives in six out of seven Petals.  

ILFI defines the LPC as, “a framework for manufacturers to create products that are healthy, inspirational and give back to the environment.” It is a rigorous program to ensure that products are free of toxins, are socially responsible, and are net positive for people and the environment. Earning Petal certification for place, water, health and happiness, materials, equity and beauty required deep examination of the product’s entire life cycle. ILI explored how the company sources and uses raw materials, how operations interact with its surroundings and how the effectiveness of its efforts are being measured.

Lisa Britton, director of sales and marketing/sustainability champion explains why the company tackled the LPC, “Manufacturers play a leading role in creating market-driven solutions to complex environmental problems. We recognized the Living Building Challenge provides a tool that helps us lead the industry on this front.”

ILI’s painted sunshades are made from aluminum extrusions that are assembled with mechanical fasteners and painted with a Kynar finish. The purpose of the products is to reduce a building’s carbon footprint by lowering energy required to offset unwanted heat loads. This offsets water and energy use and reduces carbon emissions in amounts much greater than it takes to produce them. In other words, the good the products do (handprints) is greater than the damage they do (footprints).  

“We are driving positive change in the industry by illustrating that it is possible to produce products that perform better without the use of hazardous chemicals,” says Jo Reinhardt, CEO of ILI. “The benefits of the program affect more than the environment. Sustainability is one of our company’s core values. Understanding that each product we produce helps improve the environment contributes to our employees’ sense of pride and ownership in the work they do.”  

The most difficult aspect of achieving certification for ILI was meeting the requirements of the materials Petal, which does not allow the use of toxic chemicals. ILI worked closely with chemical and paint suppliers and made a major investment in a new paint line for ILI’s in-house finishing company, Verta, Inc. This allowed them to eliminate hexavalent chromium from the process used to pretreat aluminum extrusions prior to applying the Kynar finish. This paint line is believed to be the first completely chrome-free Kynar finishing line in the country. Extensive testing showed that the chrome-free pretreatment outperformed the traditional method. 

“Industrial Louvers truly rose to the occasion with their new Living Product Challenge Certification,” says James Connelly, LFA, LEED AP, vice president products and strategic growth, International Living Future Institute. “From replacing hexavalent chromium with a new, green chemistry formulation, to renovating their facility and allowing in fresh air and daylight, the building is net zero ready. Industrial Louvers is now a leading example of a new industrial economy, where companies have net positive impact on humans and the environment.”