Through its building products subsidiary CertainTeed LLC, Saint-Gobain is investing $32 million to upgrade equipment at its insulation plant in Chowchilla, California, allowing the facility to expand its production capacity by 13%.
The new oven, new furnace and additional new equipment installed at the plant will consume less natural gas and electricity, ultimately reducing the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 4,000 metric tons per year.
The investments in Chowchilla were first announced in November as part of a broader $400 million expansion of Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing facilities in the United States. This comes only months after the company announced its global Grow and Impact strategy, which includes increasing its presence in key high-growth markets while reducing its environmental footprint.
The furnace in Chowchilla is used to melt recycled glass and sand into molten glass which is eventually fiberized. The oven is used to cure binding material which holds the fibers together, allowing the insulation to assume its final shape and dimensions. The new equipment is more energy-efficient than the plant’s current equipment.
As part of the expansion project, the plant has also installed a new oxygen generation unit which consumes 30% less electricity than the older equipment it replaces. Oxygen is mixed with natural gas and used at the plant to heat the furnace.
“Our strategic investments in Chowchilla represent a major commitment to our customers on the West Coast for decades to come, ensuring that we will meet the need for our industry-leading fiberglass insulation at a time of unprecedented demand growth, all while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint,” said Andrew Goldberg, VPand GM of CertainTeed Insulation Product Group. “We will continue to strive to maximize our positive impact for our customers and the communities where we do business while minimizing our environmental footprint. We are grateful for the support we’ve received from our customers and the community, along with the hard work of the incredible team at our plant, as we begin this new chapter of our history in Chowchilla.”
A team of approximately 20 Saint-Gobain engineers and project management professionals worked for several years to plan the equipment upgrades in Chowchilla. An additional team of approximately 300 contract workers were brought on-site to install the new equipment starting in January. The new equipment is expected to come online in February and March.
This is the largest capital investment CertainTeed has made in Chowchilla since the plant began operations in 1978.