Rockwool global CEO sees corporate trend supporting green planet initiatives

West Virginia

RANSON, W.Va. (WDVM) — On the heels of the Glasgow climate summit, the head of a multi-national manufacturing company with West Virginia operations is touting his commitment to a green plant. But not everybody in the Mountain State is buying it.

A good corporate citizen of a bad neighbor? Jens Birgersson is president & CEO of Denmark-based Rockwool which has located a major factory operation in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, a hefty economic development coup for the Mountain State.

As a building insulation manufacturer, the plant is strategically located to its U.S. markets. In an online forum sponsored by the Washington Post, Birgersson maintains his product is at the forefront of being environmentally friendly while growing the economy.

“I think part of it is in Europe the governments have realized multiple benefits of building renovations. It’s a good way to stimulate jobs in the local regions,” said Brigersson.

Not so fast says Danny Lutz, a soil conservation officer in Rockwool’s Jefferson County. His sleeping machines monitor air particulates and, while he cannot say with absolute certainty, he sees Rockwool as a likely emitter of carbon benzene to support its operations. And Lutz can’t get West Virginia state regulators to verify his suspicions one way or the other.

“Exxon Mobil committed themselves to reducing their carbon output by 40 percent by 2025,” Lutz said. “Why can’t Rockwool do the same thing?”

Birgersson is all on board with that.

“You see in Europe that Italy is moving very fast, California, New York, Seattle, Boston are moving in the U.S. and in a way the challenge is the same in both places,” said Birgersson. “We need to move beyond pledges and get going with the action today.”

Hiring at the Rockwool facility here is well underway. Soil conservation officer Lutz is calling on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to release data on its air and water quality monitoring of the Rockwool facility.

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