The Glass Foundry uses super-efficient furnace design and recycled glass.
The Glass Foundry is all about recycling, responsible energy use, ecology and art. Owner Mark Laukner has redesigned the traditional glass furnace to eliminate much of the heat loss and inefficiencies associated with artisanal glass production and he has made his designs available to glass artisans around the world. The business started in 1996 on Mayne Island and moved to Salt Spring four years ago.
Energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint
The Glass Foundry’s super energy efficient all-electric glass furnace uses about one tenth the energy of a traditional furnace. This drastically
reduces the carbon footprint for glass artisans. A typical glassblower uses propane to melt glass, which is expensive both in terms of cost and carbon emissions. Mark’s design is now in use in over30 countries, and he estimates that tens of thousands of tons of CO2 emissions are saved each year as a result.
Techniques used to save energy in the 11 kW furnace include elements of silicon carbide, rock wool insulation outside the firebrick, and a flat black exterior surface.
The Glass Foundry processes around 12,000 pounds a year of scrap window glass. It has recycled over 236,000 pounds of glass since starting in 1996. Shipping boxes are reused cardboard boxes, glass is wrapped in old newspaper, and paper is reused. Only the small stickers on the glassware are new.
Glass additives used for colouring are selected for their low toxicity.
The move to Salt Spring involved building a new production facility and showroom. Construction is standard 2×6 wood frame with batt insulation on an insulated slab on grade foundation. Because the glass furnace emits so little heat, the workshop can be quite cool in winter. Elsewhere on the site (not part of tour), an existing cottage houses the family and a new earth-sheltered solar cabin is planned for the south facing slope below the workshop.
Organic food production
A large organic garden and a greenhouse, along with an old orchard, provides the family with food. Varieties grown are open-pollinated heirloom and seed is saved from one season to the next.