|Corporate America Protecting and Enhancing the Environment Part II
By Gloria Romano
From networking technology to provide a platform for innovations that help measure, monitor and manage the worldâs resources for greater efficiencies and environmental savings to reducing carbon and water intensity at operations, corporations such as Cisco, Con Edison, Office Depot, Sodexo, PG&E and Kraft Food have implemented several green initiatives to protect the environment. Read what their goals are and how they are achieving it.
Going green demands new business models, innovative technologies and global collaboration along with partnerships across the public and private sectors. The ability to balance innovation with operational excellence is a key principle of business, and the tech sector in particular. âWith our tech heritage, Cisco is positioned to serve as an example to the industry on corporate sustainability,â states Cisco spokeswoman, Jennifer Greeson.
âCisco believes that technology can transform how we manage global environmental challenges and that corporations have a responsibility to minimize their impact on the world around us.â Under the direction set by the Cisco EcoBoard, the companyâs approach to environmental sustainability is to affect how Cisco operates as a company, create efficiencies and innovations in products, provide environmentally conscious solutions to customers and collaborate with customers and industry to address global environmental issues.
According to Greeson, as a company, Cisco set a goal to reduce their own carbon emissions in absolute terms of 25 percent by 2012. In order to accomplish this goal, Cisco is using its own technology, from better energy management in buildings to using collaborative technologies.
Many of the companyâs most important initiatives would not have taken place without the formation of the EcoBoard. The EcoBoard is a cross-functional, executive-level body responsible for Ciscoâs environmental vision and strategy, including mitigating climate change. Membership of the EcoBoard currently comprises 14 key business units and operational organizations, including government affairs, engineering, manufacturing, facilities, marketing, finance, services, and IT. As a result of this collaboration across the business, the data collection and emissions calculation has become more comprehensive and more accurate each year. The EcoBoard ensures that Cisco has a long-term vision, strategy, and governance structure in place to make certain all sectors are moving in the same green direction.
âOne area of focus for our company moving forward is smart grid,â states Greeson. âCiscoâs vision for the smart grid is to enable a secure, reliable end-to-end communications fabric from electrical generation to business and the home.â If based on Internet Protocol standards, this will build intelligence, resiliency and two-way communications into an electricity distribution system that has been traditionally fragmented. A smart grid will create new business models for utilities, enable significant savings for businesses and consumers, and help manage the worldâs energy consumption. Two initiatives Cisco has put in place to make this vision a reality is the Cisco Smart Grid Ecosystem and the Smart Grid Technical Advisory Board.
Cisco believes that the network can become a âgreen platformâ for technology to help transform how they manage global environmental challenges. Some of their most important initiatives are listed below: Cisco EnergyWise is a solution added to Ciscoâs Catalyst switching portfolio that measures power consumption of the network infrastructure and network-attached devices. It gives customers the tools to assign policies to equipment to reduce power consumption, realize increased cost savings and improve energy efficiency. Ciscoâs Connected Urban Development (CUD) is a partnership between Cisco and cities around the world to create urban communications infrastructures that demonstrate how network connectivity can reduce carbon emissions in urban environments.
One of the nationâs largest investor-owned energy companies, Con Edison, is committed to assisting customers use less energy through efficiency measures. âIn the coming years, energy efficiency will be an even greater part of our business model,â states Sara Banda, spokeswoman for Con Edison, âCustomers are benefitting by spending less on energy. Altogether, we expect our portfolio of offerings to save 400 megawatts of electricity over the next six years.â
In 2009, Con Edison introduced a variety of programs that give residential, small business, commercial and industrial customers, tools and incentives they can use to better manage their energy use. This year, the company is launching additional energy-efficiency programs.
The company is offering homeowners cash rebates for upgrading to high efficiency air conditioners, heating systems, boilers, water heaters, Energy Star thermostats, and duct sealing. For small businesses, the company is providing free energy audits and giving substantial rebates to those that make major upgrades. During the audits, they install free compact-fluorescent lights and water-heater thermostats.Â They also have an efficiency program for apartments, condos, and co-ops; owners and renters receive incentives to replace or upgrade refrigerators and window air conditioners.
âOur efforts to educate customers about the benefits of conservation and energy efficiency are having a positive impact,â states Banda. âThe companyâs âPower of Greenâ campaign continues to inform people in our region and beyond about conserving Âenergy. We will continue to build on the successes of our energy-efficiency offerings and align ourselves with city and state goals to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.â
Committed to a clean and sustainable future, since 2005, the company has reduced their carbon footprint by 36 percent. New York Cityâs urban rooftops offer great potential for solar energy. More recently, the company filed a proposal for $25 million in funding to develop solar power installations over the next five years. âIf we achieve the goal of 25 megawatts derived from solar resources, we could offset 16,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 2,400 cars from the road,â she states.
Another extension to their green commitment is through partnerships with community organizations dedicated to sustainability. âWe proudly support Solar Oneâs Green Collar Jobs program, which provides vocational education for students interested in the emerging green industry,â she states. Another one of their partners, the Teatown Lake Reservation, offers educational programs for children and adults that instill respect for the environment. Last October, in partnership with the New York Restoration Project, we planted more than 5,000 trees in New York City. The tree plantings were funded by company contributions to thank customers for enrolling in our e*bill paperless billing program.
New environmentally friendly white roofs are now in place at the corporate headquarters and more than 20 other facilities, and more are under way. Instead of absorbing sunlight, a white roof reflects it, resulting in a more energy-efficient building.
The Carbon Disclosure Project tracks the green efforts of 2,000 organizations worldwide and last year ranked Con Edison the number one utility in climate-change performance actions.
âOffice Depotâs global environmental strategy can be summarized as: We commit to increasingly buy green, be green and sell green,â states Yalmaz Siddiqui, director of Environmental Sustainability. âBy implementing a broad range of initiatives under this global strategy, Office Depot has not only measurably improved our own environmental performance, but enabled our suppliers and customers to do the same.â
At Office Depot, going green is a change in the approach to business and life. âThis is because there is so much implicit economic logic in environmentally preferable ideas, solutions, practices and products,â states Siddiqui. âWhat Office Depot is trying to tell and show our customers is that going green can save money as well.â One of the most successful green initiatives is one of the solutions developed to help Office Depot increasingly sell green to our customers â The Green Bookâ˘. The Office Depot Green Book is a catalog featuring over 2,000 of our greenest products and several pages of educational content. âNot only have we assisted our customers in increasingly purchasing green via The Green Book,â states Siddiqui. âWe have helped motivate our vendors and suppliers to become more green â in order to be included in the catalog.â
To increasingly sell green, Office Depot proactively seeks input from their customers to better understand their environmental goals and needs. They use that insight to develop innovative green products and solutions that aim to meet or exceed their expectations. âWe believe that our set of customer-focused green capabilities and resources far exceeds those of our major competitors and has helped us to attract a portfolio of some of the greenest/most sustainable customers in the world,â states Siddiqui.
Some examples and resources are the following:
âGreenâ Merchandising Resources: The Green Bookâ˘: The Office Depot Green Book is a recycled paper catalog (printed with soy ink) of approximately 3,000 products featuring environmental attributes. When first launched in 2003, The Green Book contained just 1,200 products and limited educational content.
Office Depot Green: With more than 6,500 products featuring environmental benefits currently in the Companyâs merchandising assortment â ranging from recycled paper and remanufactured ink cartridges to solar charging backpacks and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) â Office Depot created a special brand dubbed Office Depot Green.
Green Customer Awards: To continue to deliver innovative green solutions for the Companyâs business customers, an awards program was launched in the U.S. for customers that drove the highest demand for green products.
âGreenâ Services Resources: Ink and Toner Cartridge Recycling Program: Since 2003, Office Depot has offered its U.S. retail and business customers the opportunity to recycle their empty ink and toner cartridges.
Tech Recycling Service: In response to the growing amount of electronic waste in the U.S., Office Depot launched its Tech Recycling Program in 2007. The program, offered in Office Depot retail stores nationwide, followed several successful pilot programs. The service permits Office Depot customers to purchase a Tech Recycling box at their local store for a nominal fee and fill it with an unlimited amount of old technology items. Office Depot takes care of the old technology from there and works with a recycling partner to turn the e-waste into reusable materials, such as glass, copper, plastic and aluminum. More information is available at www.officedepot.com/techrecycling
âFor Office Depot it is important to recognize the intangible benefits as well as the financial benefits of a business going green,â states Siddiqui. âThe potential benefits of going green are numerous: immediate cost savings, long term cost savings, differentiation from the competition, customer loyalty, innovation, corporate leadership, employee morale, etc.â
Sodexo offers a variety of innovative comprehensive service solutions for food service, housekeeping, grounds keeping, plant operations, maintenance, materials management and laundry services customers in the corporate, health care, education and government areas. âAt Sodexo, âgoing greenâ is about vibrant ecosystems, healthy individuals, and strong communities,â states Alfred King, Sodexo spokesperson. âOur strategic approach to sustainability is called the âBetter Tomorrow Planâ and is based on changes we can make to our core business practices to reduce our own environmental impacts as well as help our clients reduce theirs. Itâs about how we manage facilities, run our kitchens, work with suppliers, and more.â
Sodexo is looking at the opportunities to reduce carbon and water intensity at their operations as well as client sites; focusing on locally-produced, seasonal and sustainably sourced foods ranging from proteins (meat, fish, poultry) to vegetables and dairy products. It also means âgreeningâ their environmental services, reducing the water and energy they use to clean floors, linens, dishes, etc.
According to King, being green has helped the company build closer relationships with their clients because they share their values and can support their strategy. In some cases being green has helped the company save their clients money by reducing energy, water, and waste. âItâs not always easy to find the solutions that work from a financial perspective,â he states. âSome of the most challenging decisions involve purchasing new products or equipment that require an upfront investment but may result in financial benefits down the road.â
Sodexo has successfully implemented several green initiatives, including a switch to recycled Napkins and one-at-a-time dispensers at food service locations; the use of trayless dining at selected locations to reduce food waste; on-site composting; highly efficient dish washing units that reduce water and energy usage; the implementation of EnergyStar guidelines in hospitals; and a switch to natural cleaning products
Here are few initiatives:
Planting the SEEDs of change: The key to moving from progress to performance in sustainability will be found in the companyâs expert network. In 2008, Sodexo launched the Sustainability Eucation and Expert Development (SEED) initiative to build collective insight across the organization that will lead to greater environmental performance and more effective engagement with the communities served.
Caring for the planet at National Geographic: Sodexo is proud to serve the National Geographic Society. National Geographicâs very tangible example of how to care for the planet. Some of the steps already taken include: Partnering with National Geographic to achieve LEED Silver Certification for existing buildings in 2003 and expect to receive LEED Gold certification in the near future.
âSodexoâs work, in partnership with our clients, and in service to our customers, demands a deep and unwavering commitment to sustainability and the environment, as well as to the vitality of the communities in which we do business,â states King. âThis means we not only conduct our business in ways that protect our planet, but we also seek out opportunities to restore our environment and the fabric of the communities that we serve.â
Committed to being an environmental leader and demonstrating this through actions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), incorporated in California in 1905, is one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, pledges to think creatively, work cooperatively and be results-oriented in their environmental stewardship efforts.
âOur vision of industry leadership includes setting an example as an environmental leader,â states PG&E spokesperson Fiona Chan. âWe recognize that producing and delivering energy are at the core of the broad environmental and economic sustainability challenges that seem to become more apparent every day.â
With approximately 20,000 employees who carry out Pacific Gas and Electric Companyâs primary businessâthe transmission and delivery of energy, the company provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.
For PG&E, the longest standing initiative is energy efficiency. Since 1976, PG&E has implemented some of the most comprehensive and aggressive energy efficiency programs in the nation, working to help customers achieve cost-effective energy savings. âOur results demonstrate that energy efficiency offers the fastest and lowest-cost way to meet growing energy demand while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions,â states Chan. âIn total, PG&Eâs programs have helped customers save over $24 billion and prevented more than 155 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted into the atmosphere, based on cumulative lifecycle savings.â
Some initiatives within the green sector are:
Customer-owned Solar: With over 38,000 PV systems installed, PG&E has connected more solar customers to the electric grid than any other utility company in the countryâin fact this represents roughly 40 percent of the installs throughout the entire U.S. PG&E is helping a growing number of customers install solar energy systems through the California Solar Initiative (CSI). In 2009, the company interconnected more than 9,200 customer-owned solar power systems to the electric grid.
ClimateSmartâ˘: Breaking new ground, PG&Eâs pioneering ClimateSmartâ˘ program is a voluntary, tax-deductible program that allows customers to balance out the greenhouse gas emissions that are produced by the energy they use. To date, approximately 30,000 customers, including PG&E, have enrolled in the programâfrom residents, to city governments, to businesses.
Delivering Low-Emission Energy: PG&E serves 5 percent of the countryâs population, yet they emit less than 1 percent of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with the nationâs electricity production. On average, approximately half of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from a combination of renewable and greenhouse gas-free resources.
PG&E received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDâ˘) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for our 245 Market Street facility in San Francisco. This important third-party designation is for maximizing operational efficiency.
âJob number one in all of these areas will always continue to be excellence in complianceâjust as basic reliability is the foundation for meeting our customer commitments,â states Chan when asked how the company being green has affected the company. âThe biggest and best opportunities we have to grow and prosper in the future are those that contribute smart, holistic solutions to the big challenges we and our customers face. To succeed here, we have to willingly embrace the role of an innovator, a first mover and an agent of change. Thatâs the key to our vision of industry leadership and our goal to be an environmental leader.â
For Kraft Foods, the approach to sustainability is helping meet the needs of the present while being mindful of the future. Sustainability is now part of how the company does business â itâs a priority across the organization, including (but not limited to) general management, marketing, operations and R&D. Itâs a priority from the senior-most levels on down.
Of the six focus areas, (agricultural commodities, packaging, energy, water, waste, transportation/distribution) Kraftâs greatest impact is on agricultural commodities and packaging. âThatâs based on our ability to influence these areas, and how big they are to us,â states Kraft Foods spokesperson Richard Buino.
Kraft Foods spokesperson Kraftsâ most successful initiatives are:
In 2003, the company began collaborating with the Rainforest Alliance on coffee. In 2005, they expanded into cocoa and in 2009 Kraft became the largest buyer of coffee AND cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms â purchasing more than 34,000 MT of coffee and 7,100 MT of cocoa.
In February 2009, Kraft Foods and other industry, government and non-governmental partners joined with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pledge a total of $90 million over five years to boost the incomes of cocoa and cashew farmers in Africa. The projects aim to strengthen the long-term viability of the West African cocoa and cashew industries. Kraft Foods is the only major branded food company involved in both projects. The cocoa project will be led by the World Cocoa Foundation, and Deutsche Gesellschaft fĂźr Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, German Technical Cooperation, will lead the cashew project.
âWe set an ambitious goal that we recently achieved: by 2011, eliminate 150 million pounds of packaging material from our supply chain,â states Buino. âWe did it by designing more efficient packaging and reducing the amount of packaging material needed for our products. But weâre not stopping there. We have a global team of packaging sustainability leaders in R&D who meet regularly to share best practices, news of successes and collaborate.â
In 2008, Kraft partnered with TerraCycle, an innovative company that âupcyclesâ material that otherwise wouldâve gone to a landfill. TerraCycle reuses the packaging to make new, useful products. And today, Kraft Foods is the largest sponsor of TerraCycle âbrigadesâ â collection points â with more than 30,000 locations and nearly seven million people signed up to collect waste across the United States. The program has been so successful itâs expanded internationally to the United Kingdom and Canada, and thereâs more in the works!
âOur sustainability strategy is simple: we lead with results. It means we measure success by looking at achievements and our progress against goals, rather than talking about long range goals for what weâre planning to do down the road, states Buino. âWeâve been on this journey for a number of years, and weâre making good progress. In the last three years, weâve raised the bar significantly higher â making sustainability a company wide effort, setting aggressive sustainability goals and making it a business priority.â
By Gloria Romano