An article titled “Going Green” by George DuBose appeared in the May issue of Construction Executive. Shortly after, Mr. DuBose received an email from Ken Brown, president and CEO of MKT Metal Mfg. (a mid-Atlantic manufacturer of duct) who had read the article. Attached was the article below, which Ken had written for a trade publication. We have reprinted it here with his permission.

covering duct headsBeing a father of five and recently a grandfather for the first time, I would be lying if I said I was not concerned about the legacy my generation leaves to the group behind us. Yes, the environment is important – mainly because it’s the only one we have. But there are times I wonder if our good intentions aren’t overshadowing our common sense.

As a manufacturer of sheet metal duct, I often see the word “GREEN” thrown around for new products and processes. Some instances leave you scratching your head. Consider the use of plastic wrap to cover the ends of ductwork. The intent is to protect the inside of duct from job site debris. Definitely a GREEN practice, right? At first glance it may appear so, but job site experience and common sense say otherwise.

Back in the “good ol’ days”, when duct was installed using awls and hand drills, there may have been better control of job site conditions. Maybe jobs were not as rushed, and ample weather-protected areas were available for staging duct. More than likely, duct was not used as trash cans, and anyone caught doing so paid the price. Perhaps workers of an era gone by had more respect for property and wouldn’t litter maliciously. Maybe General Contractors patrolled jobs, making certain they were running a “tight ship” and things were kept clean. Maybe it’s just a different day and time. As a result, we the people have come up with ways to protect us from ourselves – hence, plastic wrap on duct ends.

Here’s the GREEN rub: the GREEN concept was created to avoid depleting natural resources and to reduce pollution. But are the GREEN drum beaters aware that the plastic used in wrapping duct ends is manufactured from crude oil, a limited resource? And, are they aware of the expense in material and labor that wrapping duct ends contributes to a HVAC job?

When shipping duct, it used to be standard practice to “nest” smaller pieces of duct within larger ones, optimizing truck space. Covering duct ends limits nesting, forcing poor utilization of truck space, increasing deliveries, and widening the carbon footprint. When duct is delivered to a jobsite, handling often ruins covered ends when duct is pushed across the floor, making the whole process a complete waste.

Apparently a few of the folks that preach GREEN have never worked on a construction jobsite. If they had, they would have seen plastic wrap stripped from duct and thrown into a jobsite dumpster – only to wind up in a landfill where it will spend eternity. Not very GREEN at that point, is it?

We’re all about leaving a clean/GREEN legacy for future generations. Most don’t want to intentionally waste or pollute. Some simple solutions to “contaminated duct” would be: better policing of the jobsite; cleaner, weather-tight jobsite conditions; wiping down or blowing out duct with compressed air at the jobsite prior to being hung; and temporarily capping duct runs at the end of a session. All of these practices help to maintain the integrity and cleanliness of a customer’s HVAC duct system at a fraction of the cost incurred by covering duct ends.

Although conceived with good intentions, the practice of covering duct ends with plastic wastes time, money, and finite resources while adding to the trash stream.

Ken Brown is a proud father of five and recently, Poppy of one. He has been working in the sheet metal/construction industry for 25+ years. Ken is the president and CEO of MKT Metal Mfg., an industry leader for the sheet metal industry. Their leading position is attributed to skilled craftsmen and their  ability to supply products while optimizing production. Contact them at MKT Metal Manufacturing, Inc. 3466 Board Rd, York, PA 17406, Phone: 717-600-5182, www.mktduct.com.