2013 Insider Knowledge Report Shares Lessons from Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, and Others

Environmental Leader launched its 2013 Insider Knowledge Report today. The report, made possible by sponsor Schneider Electric, shares lessons learned from 120 corporate environmental, energy and sustainability decision-makers.

The third annual report gives real-world examples of how sustainability initiatives are making a difference at companies including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Con Edison, Fujitsu, General Motors, Humana, Nokia and Schneider Electric. Topics covered include energy management, auditing and reporting, strategy and leadership, supply chain, water management and waste and recycling.

“As a global leader in sustainability services and energy management, Schneider Electric understands the importance of leadership and innovation in developing effective, forward-thinking solutions that benefit the greater good as well as the bottom line,” said Mike Fraser, Global Vice President, Schneider Electric Sustainability Services. “It is both refreshing and inspiring to see the dedication to sustainable and energy efficient solutions that are highlighted throughout this year’s report.”

Contributions to the report indicate that companies are not shying away from using their sustainability, environmental and energy management initiatives to solve “big” problems, and that the steps taken by some of these companies have been significant over the last year — and have led to big gains. Companies are also requiring, more than ever, that their sustainability initiatives contribute to the bottom line.

“We’re not tinkering around the edges of things,” wrote Michael Washburn, VP for Sustainability at Nestle Waters. He added that he believes the company can create a nation-wide recycling program that would “take care of the vast majority of the stuff that’s going to the landfill.”

L’Oreal is tackling the big issue of climate change and the need to reduce its carbon footprint by becoming operational with four new US solar installations, among other initiatives. “We believe that our objective of seducing a billion new consumers can only be achieved if the important environmental and social challenges are taken into account,” wrote Pamela Alabaster, SVP Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs for L’Oreal USA, who added that climate change is one of the world’s “dire challenges.” With initiatives such as this, the company has succeeded in reducing GHG emissions by 31.1 percent since 2005.

A sample of other companies weighing in:

General Motors suggested that companies invest in energy efficiency. GM collects  proposed projects from facilities and prioritizes  them based on return on investment and probability of successful implementation. In 2012, the company spent $20 million on energy efficiency in   the US, and as a result reduced manufacturing energy intensity by 8 percent from the previous year.

Eastman Chemical Company wrote that using Energy Star’s Battle of the Buildings can be a rallying point to focus on office energy efficiency, and increase energy awareness, accountability and sustainability. The contest resulted in an average reduction among three of Eastman Chemical’s buildings of 21%.

Walmart introduced its Sustainability Index in 2011 in order to tackle the challenge of developing a more sustainable supply chain and to create business value by increasing quality, efficiency and resiliency in the supply chain. “Integrating sustainability into the way we buy merchandise is no easy task, but the opportunity to become an even stronger business while improving sustainability globally is huge and it’s worth the effort,” wrote Jeff Rice, Walmart senior director of sustainability.

SC Johnson has committed to delivering its products with a minimal environmental footprint, and part of this commitment has led to the use of wind power. The company commissioned two 415-foot Vensys wind turbines in December 2012 to power its largest global manufacturing facility, and became the only manufacturer in the country to install this technology. Today, SC Johnson wrote, the project is the largest onsite, company-owned wind turbine project in the Midwest. The project cut carbon by 6,000 metric tons and generates enough energy to power more than 700 homes each year.

Simon Mills, head of sustainable development for the City of London, wrote that the days when you could claim sustainability is a cost are long gone. Fundamentally, he wrote, sustainability is a tool with which you can use to unpick complex problems and deliver long term, effective resource-­efficient solutions. If this wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t see such a high take-up of sustainability amongst businesses, he wrote – it makes pure business sense, both in terms of reduced costs and more importantly, in terms of the enhanced ability to actually solve problems and identify new markets and new products.

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