In Your Community

GAF's Sustainability Promise: A Year of Social Impact

By Jeff Terry

December 20, 2022

GAF Sustainability project for Cool Communities in action.

"As industry leaders, we have a responsibility to use our expertise and resources to make a positive impact on our communities and our planet, which is why we've set these ambitious goals. We are making strategic investments to achieve those goals and, ultimately, to leave the planet better than we found it for our children – and their children." —Jim Schnepper, CEO of GAF, Earth Day, 2022

GAF continues to work to improve the lives of people, our planet and our communities

Our 2022 Sustainability Promise is a public promise to work towards a more sustainable future while protecting what matters most: Our People, Our Planet and the Progress of Our Business.

We are making important strides as we work to fulfill our promise and there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about our future. Here are some highlights from our progress this year:

2030 Planet Goals: A Circular Roofing Economy and Energy from Every Roof

GAF is committed to improving the planet with a circular approach to our business and the roofing sector. We are working to accomplish this by producing industrial materials that can potentially minimize our environmental footprint while having a positive impact on the planet.

This kind of beneficial circularity is exemplified in GAF's newly patented RoofCycle™ Process, used to manufacture Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series Shingles. This revolutionary technology recycles end-of-life roofing shingles and returns them to the beginning of the manufacturing cycle to create new asphalt shingles.

In 2022 we furthered this initiative in several ways:

  • We committed to diverting 1 million tons of roofing waste per year from landfills by 2030

  • We invested $100 million to build our first full-size asphalt shingle recycling operation in Corsicana, Texas

  • We were proudly recognized for this sustainable recycled asphalt shingle innovation in: Popular Science, Fast Company and Forbes

GAF also collaborated this year with the best and most innovative business and talent in the solar industry to create GAF Energy's Timberline Solar™. The first solar roofing material that can be installed like a regular roof, Timberline Solar™ will help make a sustainable cycle of energy-use available to homeowners. GAF is proud of the potential for positive impact Timberline Solar™ offers. The arrival of this innovative "roof with energy" also initiated construction on a new 450,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Texas, our second solar manufacturing operation in the US.

In 2022 GAF Energy received recognition for its innovation with awards from:

Improving Operations, Less Waste, More Product Transparency

GAF has put broad measures in place to increase operational waste diversion across our network of plants. This year we conducted waste diversion assessments across seventeen of our plants, 9 of which are already achieving more than 75% waste diversion from landfill. We have reduced post-manufacture waste, reduced water use and are working to improve energy-efficiency across our network. In addition to these operational efforts, we also continued our market leadership in product sustainability and transparency by growing our third-party environmental and health-focused disclosures and certifications by more than 30%. GAF is ending the year with 59 product-specific, third-party certifications on 40 product lines, which means our customers have options to choose from and can turn to GAF for their green building needs.

GAF Community Matters: Building Resilient Communities

Through the GAF Community Matters initiative, we're leveraging our expertise, resources, and products to build resilient communities in partnership with nonprofit organizations, community partners and GAF Certified Contractors*. As we look back at 2022, the commitment of our employees and Certified Contractors this year has been truly impressive and the meaningful impact made in our communities is undeniable.

This year, GAF:

  • Achieved a 142% increase in the number of GAF Certified Contractors involved in the program

  • Provided roughly 150 grants focused on community resilience

  • Activated employees and increased volunteerism by 45%, making huge contributions by giving their time to their communities. A great example includes making more than 5,000 blankets to help protect those impacted by natural disasters. The blankets are now wrapped around families in places like Kentucky (impacted both by tornadoes and floods), Iowa and Minnesota (affected by severe wind), Colorado (ravaged by wildfires) and the Gulf region from Texas to Florida. GAF employees also developed 30,000 disaster response hygiene kits with Good360 to deploy to families impacted by disasters.

As we grew Community Matters this year, we partnered with actor Anthony Mackie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's new "Captain America," to help rebuild communities repeatedly hit by natural disasters and left vulnerable to future crises, starting in Mackie's hometown of New Orleans. GAF committed to repairing or replacing 500 roofs throughout the Gulf Region, starting with 150 roofs in the 7th Ward and worked with Mackie to kickoff repairs as hurricane season got underway. Through the GAF Roofing Academy, we also committed to train members of the community in essential roofing skills and provided resources to non-profit partners, including Rebuilding Together, Habitat for Humanity, Team Rubicon, Good360 and SBP, to help with the reroofing efforts needed in the region. To date, GAF has helped to repair hundreds of roofs in the Gulf Region and continues to help bolster rebuilding and resiliency efforts across the country. Most importantly, families have already been able to return home without worrying about rain damage or the next storm.

Cooler Communities

Building resilient communities includes building resilience for climate change. In the Summer of 2022 GAF launched one of its first major initiatives to address urban heat. The GAF Cool Community Project is a first-of-its-kind, community-wide engagement and research initiative to understand the impacts various cooling solutions have on urban heat and livability. Our 2022 multi-phased project focused on applying cooling strategies across a 10-square block area in the neighborhood of Pacoima, one of the hottest areas in Los Angeles. This is the largest contiguous application of cool pavement coatings to date. GAF StreetBond Invisible Shade™ solar-reflective coating pavement coatings were applied on neighborhood streets, crosswalks, basketball courts, school yards, parking lots and playgrounds. The project had a significant community engagement effort with partners including Climate Resolve, Pacoima Beautiful, many government agencies and officials, and most importantly, the residents of Pacoima. Among the benefits of this effort was the use of StreetBond in the development of a colorful community mural by a local artist.

The StreetBond Invisible Shade™ solar-reflective coating could potentially reduce temperatures as much as a 10°–12°. Local residents in the area felt an immediate difference in the summer heat, with Pacoima Beautiful volunteer Melanie Torres pointing out that local parents walking through the neighborhood observed they could "feel the difference between the regular asphalt versus the street bond coating."

This innovative technology was recognized by TIME magazine as one of its Best Inventions of 2022 and ended the year with nearly 50 features across multiple media outlets.

Helping at Critical Times of Need: Hurricane Ian Response

This year, with wind speeds reaching a terrifying 150 miles per hour, Hurricane Ian devastated communities in its path. Initially prepared to support employees of their plant in Tampa, FL, GAF was able to pivot to come to the aid of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, FL. Drawing from experience gained when Hurricane Florence battered another GAF plant location, Burgaw, NC in 2018, GAF brought precision collaboration between procurement, sales, Standard Logistics, and local teams to help as many people as possible by delivering essential supplies. One resident shared, "What you guys did has already had a huge impact. People thought they were coming for a hot meal and received ways to rebuild along with basic necessities that they haven't had or known when they would. It was huge — there were A LOT of tears. YOU and your company made it happen and gave people hope."

Harvey Brown is a GAF Area Manager for the Southeast who joined the company in 2022. After taking part in the relief efforts, he shared: "You hear all the talk, you've heard it all before, but here, you hear it — and you see it. We're living it."

GAF embraces our responsibility, capability, and opportunity to drive change. We hope to inspire the people around us to do the same and look forward to the impact we will have together in 2023.

Find out More

To learn more about GAF's Sustainability Promise, as well as related products, programs, and initiatives, please visit our dedicated sustainability webpage.

*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

About the Author

Jeff Terry serves as Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability at GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, leading the development and implementation of the company’s long-term strategy for CSR initiatives. In this role, Jeff also drives community engagement efforts that reinforce GAF’s value of making a lasting impact in the communities in which the company operates both every day and in times of great need. Prior to joining GAF, Jeff served in a dual role at Amway Corporation as the Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Director of Integrated Marketing Communications. During his tenure, Jeff instituted the first sustainability goals for operations and product development. With a career in sustainability spanning more than 20 years, Jeff also held roles with Sears Holdings Corporation, Cone Communications, and Whirlpool Corporation. Jeff has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for more than two decades including developing two corporate partnerships, Vinyl Partners for Humanity and building the Whirlpool/Habitat relationship. A nationally-recognized speaker on sustainability, Jeff has presented to the United Nations, as well as at many global conferences. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from Clemson University.

Related Articles

Team Rubicon Greyshirt volunteers in action
In Your Community

Becoming a Team Rubicon Greyshirt—An Enlightening and Humbling Experience

Team Rubicon, as noted on their website, "serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises." So when the opportunity came to become a Team Rubicon Greyshirt and help people in need in the wake of recent natural disasters, the choice was obvious. I joined Team Rubicon (TR) with several colleagues after their initial visit to GAF's site in Ennis, Texas back in May of 2019. I didn't know at the time what TR was truly about, but I knew that I would enjoy hanging with veterans and providing hands-on assistance directly to others in immediate need. Both of these experiences were enlightening for me and humbling, to say the least. Helping in Houston Our first operation in 2019 sent us to the FOB (forward operating base) in Houston for rebuilds still ongoing from Hurricane Harvey. It had been two years since the hurricane, and it seemed almost unfathomable that there was still a need for this kind of help. This mission had been going on for well over a year—as we found out, not all homeowners have insurance, and there are more people out there than we might think that take advantage of the already weakened and oppressed posing as construction contractors. The neighborhood smelled of must and mildew. My teammate and I learned the Dos and Don'ts of tape and bedding of sheetrock for this second-generation family home. Working with vets, listening to them, and watching how they give respect to one another was awesome. These folks know some things we civilians may never know. Later on, several of us went on a single-day operation—following a tornado that went through Dallas—to an elderly woman's home that sustained significant tree and roof damage. She was very thankful and appreciative of the effort, as she had no living family. By the time that day was over, all 11 teammates were exhausted but satisfied with the day's work. A Hurricane During a Pandemic The last TR tour, earlier this year, was Operation Crying Eagle in Orange, Texas. The area was recovering from Hurricane Laura, which had landed on August 20, and there was a huge need for roof tarpings, mucking (clearing debris), and sawyer detail (chainsawing). Since we were in the middle of a pandemic, the restrictions to work in teams were seriously spelled out and audited. There were 68 men and women coming together to help from all areas of the country—from San Diego to the Carolinas to Massachusetts. Each day began with a 6 a.m. wake-up call, followed by breakfast and then safety discussions at 7:15 from several leaders. We'd then break out into assigned Greyshirt teams, with each team assigned an observer to ensure we followed our COVID-related guidelines. From there, every Greyshirt got their daily assignments with one thing in mind: 'Get ***t done.' Our Greyshirt team roofed and mucked homes for folks that did not have the means or physical ability to do it on their own. We completed work on about three homes per day. Homeowners were always very grateful to TR and the work we were on hand to provide. Beyond the work itself, I took away several memories from these experiences. It was very fulfilling to know that you are helping people in need through a time that they had no control over. We felt very secure knowing that the voluntary leadership puts top priority on our safety as we "step into the arena." There was good fellowship with different people, all volunteering for the same purpose: to lift others up. And at the end of each day, we had a post-dinner debrief to discuss the accomplishments, objectives, and challenges of each team. We all took the chance to unwind after a hard, rewarding day's work. This was fun, challenging work where the motto was, "Everyone has a role. Know yours." Team Rubicon is a diamond class organization held together by volunteers—veterans and civilians—and respect at its core. For anyone who has the chance, I would say: Step into the arena! If you're interested in getting involved, visit Team Rubicon's website to learn more and sign up to volunteer and earn your Greyshirt.

By Authors Randy Brumley

January 25, 2024

Carter Work Project team in front of house
In Your Community

Teaming Up to Build Skills and Shelter for the 2023 Carter Work Project

Work is getting underway in Greater Charlotte, North Carolina, as GAF supports Habitat for Humanity with the 2023 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The five-day build event began in 1984 when former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalyn Carter led a group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers to New York, building alongside 19 families in need of safe, affordable housing. For 36 years, the Carters have worked side by side with professional builders and volunteers at locations around the world to build and raise awareness of affordable housing.From October 1st - 6th, more than 750 volunteers will cooperatively build 27 safe, affordable homes in Charlotte, where the homeownership rate of 26% falls far below the county average of 57%. A strong contingent of GAF team members will comprise the volunteer workforce, and the company is lending support in several other ways.Working Together to Build Better CommunitiesSince 2011, GAF has proudly partnered with Habitat for Humanity. For the 2023 Carter Work Project, GAF donated the roofing materials for all the homes built, offered training prior to the event, and will provide leadership while the work is being completed."We're focused on helping build more resilient communities, by making workforces, affordable homes, and ultimately families more resilient," says Jeff Terry, GAF vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.The Carter Work Project has touched thousands of lives over the last few decades and means so much to all involved. "To know that we're making a small dent in the housing affordability crisis is something very near and dear to my heart," Hailey Von Dross, youth and young adult engagement coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, shared at a recent training session in Charlotte.Helping Leaders Grow While Doing GoodIn July, the high heat was no match for the great attitudes at the two-day, hands-on, on-the-roof training hosted by GAF CARE (Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence) to prepare for October's construction work. The house and crew leaders who attended the GAF CARE training will use the roofing skills they learned to guide Carter Work Project volunteers and workers in proper shingle installation.Training these building leaders was a "really exciting opportunity" for the GAF CARE team, says Terry. "It ultimately gives them the tools to make these homes more resilient for the partner families who will be working alongside all of us and ultimately getting the keys to these homes."The GAF CARE training can also help shape future community leaders. Rachel Hurst, an AmeriCorps volunteer working with Habitat for Humanity, says, "GAF is here helping us learn the proper way to shingle a roof. It's actually really cool. It's really rewarding and shows volunteers that they have the ability to create something."The transformative power of these homes should not be underestimated. For example, Adam Hunter, new construction field manager for Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, took a break from the GAF CARE training to reflect on his own journey with Habitat for Humanity. When he was five years old, his family bought a Habitat for Humanity home."That is still our family home," Hunter shares. "It's still the home we go home to every Christmas." Now, decades later, while helping prepare for the October 2023 build, he says, "When I look around, I see not only the work that's being done today, but I see the path that these new homes can set these families on."Honoring the Carters' Legacy of Service and ShelterThe 2023 Carter Work Project is particularly exciting, as construction is kicking off after a three-year hiatus between 2019 and 2022 due to the pandemic. This year's event also honors Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, as it is the first project the couple won't participate in after retiring in 2019, following decades of humanitarian global service.Country music super-stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will host the build event in Charlotte—while also celebrating their 13th year working on the Carter Work Project.Whether celebrities or volunteers, everyone is equal as they gather for this great event. The GAF CARE training is just one of many contributions from all those involved with the goal of building more resilient families and communities. That's why GAF is proud to support the Carter Work Project year after year."A good roof system means that a homeowner won't have to worry," Von Dross noted during the roofing training event in July. "It's quite literally a roof over their head, and we're making sure that roof will be strong and durable and won't leak."Getting Involved and Making a DifferenceWhile preparations are currently underway for the 2023 Carter Work Project, it's never too late to partner with your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate and support building safe and secure homes in partnership with families in your community. The GAF Habitat for Humanity Program works year-round to improve affordable housing and community resiliency. As part of the program, GAF Master Elite® and GAF Certified™ Contractors* donate their time and services to install GAF roofing materials donated by the company (complete with a GAF System Plus Ltd. Warranty).To learn more about how GAF is building resilient communities, read about their Community Matters initiative. There's always an opportunity to give back and help improve the quality of life of others—and as the Carters know, every bit helps.*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products. Your dealings with a Contractor, and any services they provide to you, are subject to the GAF Contractor Terms of Use.

By Authors Annie Crawford

January 25, 2024

Officials cut the ribbon at Cheney Run Wetland Preserve
In Your Community

GAF Michigan City: A Commitment to Community

Michigan City has been home to a GAF manufacturing facility since 2000, supporting the community's residents through not only the nearly 200 jobs it provides but also countless hours of volunteering. The job creation and increased capacity for serving customers with the GAF Michigan City distribution center expansion is testimony to the company's dedication to building resilient communities.Since GAF is committed to investing in the communities where team members live and work, it's no surprise that team members are active in local nonprofits, including United Way of Greater LaPorte County Inc., The Salvation Army of Michigan City, and Boys and Girls Club of LaPorte County.During the process of constructing and opening the distribution center, GAF was also able to donate land back to the community that could strengthen their stormwater management and create new outdoor recreation areas. With the new distribution center and land donation, the GAF facility in Michigan City embodies their overall commitment to the area's people and environment.Investing in the CommunityThe new $30 million GAF Michigan City Distribution Center features 200,000 square feet of space and sits on 47 acres of land located between the GAF manufacturing plant and a major highway, providing improved access to transportation channels. Workers from the greater Michigan City area work in the center to manage the flow of products and materials to customers and ensure timely delivery. With over 20 forklifts and tablets to identify product location, GAF can quickly locate and transport materials despite the facility's significant size. This ultimately helps them to load trucks fully in a brisk average of 15 minutes.This investment in the community infrastructure benefits everyone, says Plant Manager Matt Hannon.He explains, "It was good for the city. It was good for all the people working at the manufacturing facility who could see the investment made in Michigan City."The construction of the distribution center generated deeper relationships with the community as well, relying on a local general contractor to manage the project and a local construction company to build the facility.Helping the EnvironmentBeyond the obvious benefits of providing employment opportunities for Michigan City residents, GAF was able to support the city's efforts to create a wetland area that would ultimately improve the water quality in Lake Michigan.Cheney Run, a small creek that ran through the GAF Michigan City property, was collecting stormwater runoff that flowed into nearby Trail Creek before eventually making its way into Lake Michigan. This polluted runoff threatened the salmon that spawned in Trail Creek as well as the water quality in Lake Michigan, which is an important water source for the community."The city had done some legwork to look at opportunities to improve the quality of the water as it got reintroduced into Trail Creek from Cheney Run," Hannon says. "They came up with this project that would actually divert the water in Cheney Run to spread across wetlands that were mostly on our property, and then use the wetlands to naturally treat the contaminants that were in the water before it was reintroduced back into Trail Creek."Hannon says the Michigan City Sanitary District reached out to GAF about the project. "We happened to sit on the land and didn't need to use it for anything, so we donated it to the city, and they were able to utilize it and complete the project."Improving Water Quality, Recreation, and Wildlife HabitatThe Cheney Run donation was not only about supporting the environment but also creating new recreational opportunities for the community. The area acts as a barrier between the park and invasive plant species, naturally filtering pollutants and releasing water to Trail Creek. In this way, the wetlands can improve the water quality in Trail Creek as well as Lake Michigan, while improving opportunities for recreation and plant and animal habitation.Hannon said the water treatment portion of the project has been a great success. "It's amazing the difference in the water quality after a storm event. Instead of that stuff rushing into Trail Creek, it's getting treated. The people I've talked to seem pleased with the project's results."Revitalization plans are still in the process of creating more trails to connect neighborhoods to existing trails and support the development of a new kayak launch area and fishing access points.Providing Year-Round Community SupportThe GAF team members in Michigan City are proud to support local community organizations. "If the community's not successful, then ultimately our team is not going to be successful. The people that work in this facility are the people that live in the community, so it means a lot to be able to invest our time and resources in the place we call home," says Hannon.Each employee can take advantage of 16 hours of paid time to volunteer in the community—they've supported local organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, and more. Hannon says GAF tries to organize an opportunity to support their community every month as many organizations struggle to secure donations and assistance outside of the holiday season.Learn more about what GAF is doing to help build resilient communities and read stories about community heroes and other hometown efforts.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

January 25, 2024

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now