Big companies benefit by going green

Lockheed Martin VP says company has made environmental strides

October 26, 2010|By David Constable

U.S. industry consumes more than one-third of the energy used nationwide, according to federal government data. That statistic is sobering, but it also represents an opportunity for industry innovation and leadership. We must plan for the future with forward-thinking approaches to energy sourcing and savings.

When industry makes even relatively small strides toward energy efficiency, the results are significant. At large companies, shutting off computers when they aren't in use can reduce annual carbon footprints by tens of thousands of metric tons. And ultimately, energy costs come out of the bottom line, so energy efficiency boosts affordability for us all.

My company, Lockheed Martin, has taken a creative and comprehensive approach toward our use of energy. It is rooted in employee initiative, readily available energy technologies and measurable outcomes.

In 2008, we launched the Go Green program, setting an aggressive goal of a 25 percent absolute reduction from 2007 levels in carbon emissions, waste to landfills and water usage by 2012. To get there, we knew that the program's success would depend on our employees at all levels, and they have risen to the challenge.

We can see this in the comprehensive energy reviews at facilities nationwide. Company sites are lowering power bills with energy-efficient facility renovations and by modernizing plant equipment. And we see it in those who volunteer to establish "Green Zones," in which employees at the office faithfully turn off lights and computers, print less and recycle more. Instead of traveling between sites, they are taking advantage of virtual meeting technologies. They've extended their workplace energy ethic to their homes by using the same solar energy provider that keeps the air running and the lights on at the office.

There's an evident and healthy push-and-pull dynamic to going green, as marketers might put it. We are celebrating both elements all through October, in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Awareness Month.

We are helping our customers reduce energy use, as well. Lockheed Martin implements many of the largest energy efficiency programs in the country for government-owned facilities. It is approved to help the federal government reduce its energy costs and environmental impact through increased energy efficiency, additional use of renewable energy and improved utility management decisions at federal sites.

In many ways, we are our own laboratory for implementing and testing energy-management concepts. We have conducted in-depth energy reviews at our top energy-consuming sites and are metering our facilities so we can track and lower power usage and our operating costs in real time.

In Owego, N.Y., a biomass boiler system provides steam for heating and process needs at our 1.8 million-square-foot facility. The system decreases the facility's carbon footprint by 9,000 metric tons a year. Employees at Lockheed Martin Electronic Systems in Moorestown, N.J., divert waste to a waste-to-energy facility. As an EPA Green Power Partner among the top 50 green power purchasers in the country, we are proud that our Bethesda headquarters campus conference center operates on 100-percent green energy.

Energy-conservation advocates are recognizing our leadership and commitment to a low-carbon economy. The 2010 Carbon Disclosure Project survey of S&P 500 companies named Lockheed Martin as a sector leader in the Industrials category, based on actions we have taken to reduce global emissions.

We still have our work cut out for us to meet our objectives. Awareness initiatives we are sponsoring this month, as well as for National Environmental Education Week and Earth Day in the spring, give us a chance to highlight our progress, engage our industry counterparts and recognize employees who understand that success depends on extensive collaboration and partnerships.

We recognize that energy security is a key component of global security. What's more, when industry leaders support energy savings and sustainability, we are also inspiring new ideas and making American business more competitive. We should not wait for mandates or inevitable price hikes. U.S. industry must collectively and proactively pursue innovative energy sources and champion conservation and efficiency because it will help deliver the kind of sustainable growth that can recharge our economy and reward our planet.

David Constable is Lockheed Martin's vice president for energy, environment, safety and health. His e-mail is david.c.constable@lmco.com.

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