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For this heating and cooling systems provider, it pays to be flexible.

Uponor North America is part of Uponor Corporation, a leading global provider of systems and solutions for hygienic drinking water delivery, energy-efficient heating and cooling and reliable infrastructure. Uponor Corporation operates in 30 countries, with a sales network covering more than 100 countries. Uponor North America is headquartered in Apple Valley, Minn.

EcoLeaders Uponor

Uponor’s pre-insulated, flexible piping was just the thing needed for a quick install—and an improved heating system—at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn., was the first environmental learning center nationally accredited as a K-12 school. More than 15,000 people all over the region stay at the facility for several days to immerse themselves in developing the knowledge, skills, motivation and commitment to create a quality environment.

In 1996, the team at Wolf Ridge chose an Uponor Ecoflex pre-insulated pipe system to efficiently heat various facilities throughout the 2,000-acre campus. The flexible nature of the product enables Ecoflex to bend around trees and boulders, minimizing disturbance to ground cover and vegetation.

In 2017, Wolf Ridge once again turned to Uponor Ecoflex to complete a renovation project. The facility is currently the first organization in Minnesota pursuing full certification for Living Building Challenge (LBC), a program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability. Therefore, choosing sustainable products was absolutely essential, according to Wolf Ridge Executive Director Pete Smerud. “We referred to LBC’s Red List chemical guide when choosing our products for the renovation,” Smerud explains. “The Red List is a list of products that are deemed bad for the environment and human health. PEX pipes are not on that list, but CPVC and PVC pipes are. One of the greatest things about Uponor is they know their products’ ingredients because they manufacture the products themselves.”

Ecoflex’s flexibility enabled the construction crew to install 300 feet of PEX pipe a day. “I give Uponor Ecoflex two thumbs up,” Smerud says. “Truly, I have no concerns because it’s performed so flawlessly for us for years.” 

They’re an Eco-Leader because...

  • In 2018 alone, Uponor has solidified its role as a thought leader in the mega-trend areas of water and climate change. For example, in April, Uponor sponsored the 2018 Next Generation Water Summit, with leaders presenting on Uponor’s latest intelligent water products to help achieve water conservation and reuse in the arid Southwest. In May, the company hosted a multi-partnered Executive Sustainability Summit to explore how Minnesota companies can take a leading role in addressing issues such as global warming, resource depletion and disruption of the supply chain.
  • The company also signed a 10-year contract to participate in a pilot program with Xcel Energy to meet sustainability goals through renewable wind and solar resources. Uponor reduced CO2 by 10 percent in 2017 and anticipates a 26 percent reduction in 2018, along with wind and solar energy use increases of 20.5 percent in 2017 and a projected 41 percent in 2018.
  • Uponor also has a new sustainability strategy to develop and differentiate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Climate Action.
  • Uponor North America will focus on becoming Green Office certified by the end of 2019. The main focus areas will include energy, employee behaviors, and waste and recycling. The company also completed its transition to ISO 14001: 2015 environmental management system in June 2018.
  • In 2016, Uponor partnered with Belkin International to form the water company Phyn, to help consumers handle water needs and help solve major challenges facing the global water supply. The company recently unveiled its Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff, which notifies homeowners of leaks via an app and can shut off water in the event of a catastrophic leak. This new device is expected to have a large impact on the 1 trillion gallons of water wasted annually worldwide.