Eric Cotterman began his career in plastics as a third-generation installer in the family's roofing, siding and windows business in Shelby County, Ohio.
After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from Wright State University, he worked for a heating and cooling company then returned to exterior building products at what was to become one of the largest manufacturers in North America.
Cotterman accepted a marketing/training position within Ply Gem industries in 2008. He was a product/installation trainer through 2017, when he became a senior product/installation/sustainability manager.
Ply Gem became Cornerstone Building Brands in 2018, and Cotterman was asked to lead and expand sustainability in the vinyl siding division with internal life cycle analysis (LCA) and expansion of environmental product declarations (EPD) for a portfolio of products.
With $3.42 billion in annual sales, CBB is the second-largest pipe, profile and tubing extruder in North America, according to Plastics News' rankings.
In 2021, Cotterman oversaw the LCAs and EPDs across all CBB vinyl manufacturing plants, and in 2022, he created an LCA/EPD for a new product being launched in 2024 nationwide.
"The use of the LCAs was to drive sustainability messaging within our customer base," he said. "They also served as a baseline of the Vinyl Siding Institute industrywide EPDs in vinyl, insulated siding and polypropylene."
While most homeowners have no idea what LCAs and EPDs say or why they're important, others make decisions on products based on the data collected.
"Other than creating efficiencies within our company, the biggest stakeholders to these documents are the specifiers, architects and builders that need/want to stay below a certain amount of carbon footprint outputs with projects they are working on," Cotterman said.
It's an important time for the vinyl siding industry, he added.
"As more cities are creating carbon reduction goals — and vinyl siding has a great story on carbon and recyclability — these projects are trying to stay in front of these demands and to make sure our products do not become deselected from those stakeholders," Cotterman said.