New report reveals more companies are taking notice of renewable energy cost savings

Once inaccessible to many organizations, today’s renewable energy technologies make financial sense and companies are paying close attention.

TAEBC member Schneider Electric partnered with GreenBiz Research to release the State of Corporate Energy & Sustainability Programs 2018 report.

The findings are based on responses to an online survey completed by 236 energy and sustainability professionals representing diverse industries and companies, with $100 million to $10 billion or more in annual revenue.

Below is some compelling data from the report:

Renewable energy is key to a decarbonized future. Global energy-related Co2 emissions could be reduced 70 percent by 2050, and renewables would account for about half of the emissions reductions, according to research. (Another 45 percent would come from increased energy efficiency and electrification.)

Getting close to those projections requires widespread support from the business community, and the report shows that support exists. Companies are helping cut emissions en masse by shifting to more clean, sustainable resources.

A majority of respondents reported having renewable energy projects underway or planned. And the rate topped 60 percent in four sectors: education,  health care, financial services and technology. Even the sector with the least amount of traction (industrial) still reported a respectable 39 percent adoption rate.

The movement toward renewables is likely due to C-level interest and support. Whether their role involves recommending, reviewing or approving projects, 82 percent reported being involved at some level in sustainability and renewable energy initiatives.

The impact on businesses is substantial because renewable energy projects help meet sustainability goals, build a stronger brand and benefit the bottom line. A recent study found that 72 percent of companies are pursuing renewable energy procurement, and 80 percent plan to build out their renewables portfolio via multiple types of transactions, such as offsite power purchase agreements and onsite generation.

It’s also important to mention financial return on investment has always been the obvious benchmark for energy and sustainability initiatives, but other criteria are now being widely considered. When asked about primary drivers for energy and sustainability efforts, cost savings was most often selected, 69 percent of the time, as one of the top three objectives. But other factors garnered high rates as well. Meeting internal and external goals ranked second (60 percent), and nearly half cited improving company brand, as well as mitigating environmental risks.

Tennessee auto manufacturers awarded for sustainability, energy efficiency practices

Nissan manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee recently received the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award for the sixth year in a row.

This is the highest honor given to top organizations dedicated to protecting the environment by making their operations more energy efficient.

Nissan has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy management.

Nissan’s efforts to reduce energy usage include switching to more efficient LED lighting, enhancing the compressed air leak production program, optimizing chilled water systems and using a paint process involving less volatile organic compounds that has cut energy usage by 30 percent.

Nissan’s Tennessee facility was also recently awarded the ENERGY STAR Certification for the eleventh year in a row, signifying Nissan’s spot among the top 25 percent of the automotive manufacturing industry for superior energy management.

Also Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has been continuing to strengthen its energy policies. The Chattanooga facility is the first and only LEED Platinum certified automotive plant worldwide.

The plant has a solar park with 33,000 solar panels on 66 acres with a capacity of 9.5 million watts. Volkswagen also utilizes an advanced painting process that reduces CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and power efficient light bulbs installed in various lighting systems on site saves an estimated 20 percent energy compared to conventional industrial lighting.

Companies with aggressive sustainability targets expand facilities in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is staying busy as more companies choose to expand into the Volunteer State with a focus on incorporating more advanced energy technologies into their facilities.

Within the month of June, both Gap Inc. and Stanley Black & Decker have announced to upgrade their existing facilities in Tennessee.

Gap Inc. representatives revealed the company would be investing $41.7 million in its Gallatin distribution campus. The new capital investment would go towards technology upgrades as Gap Inc. expands its online fulfillment capabilities.

This would create more than 500 jobs at the center in Sumner County, further strengthening economic development within the community.

Gap Inc. has set ambitious goals to foster cleaner global business by revealing back in January 2016 it would reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent from 2015 levels by the end of 2020. That announcement came after the company had already surpassed its previous goal of reducing emissions from 2008 levels by 20 percent by the end of 2015 across its U.S. operations.

To further enforce these goals, the clothing retailer released a statement following the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Gap Inc. remains committed to doing our part to act on climate. We will continue to work with like-minded businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders to support solutions that will create a more sustainable and economically strong future for the people and communities touched by our business around the world. It’s not only the right thing for the planet, but also the right path forward for business growth, job creation and human health.”

Stanley Black & Decker announced earlier this month the company would upgrade its existing facility in Jackson, Tennessee by investing $29 million into the location.

The industrial tool manufacturer will relocate new lines of production and product development to its facility in Madison County, creating approximately 255 new jobs.

Stanley Black & Decker has set sustainability standards of its own, by committing to reduce energy consumption within its facilities by 20% as well as reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2015 levels.

Also for the sixth consecutive year, the company has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. This list is recognized as a benchmark for investors.

Tennessee Fortune 100 and 500 companies setting renewable energy, sustainability targets

Earlier this month a new report, 2016 Corporate Advanced Energy Commitments, explained renewable energy demand is “significant and growing quickly” within Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

fortune-500-logoIts findings reveal that 71 of Fortune 100 companies and 215 of Fortune 500 companies have set renewable energy or sustainability targets.

TAEBC decided to take a closer look at which companies in Tennessee not only made the list but also have set energy goals within their corporations.

It’s important to mention 22 companies in the Fortune 500 list have committed to 100% renewable energy including General Motors and Nike.

General Motors has a plant located in Spring Hill, Tennessee and recently announced plans to add 650 jobs there. Meanwhile, Nike’s largest distribution center is located in Memphis, Tennessee.

fedexlogoComing in at the highest ranked Tennessee headquartered company on the list is FedEx Corp. FedEx’s corporate office is located in Memphis. It’s been on the list for more than 20 years and employs more than 323,000 people nationwide.

As for energy commitments, FedEx Corp. has set ambitious goals to reduce its footprint by:

  • Increasing FedEx Express vehicle efficiency by 30 percent by 2020 (It surpassed its original 20 percent by 2020 goal years ahead of schedule.)
  • Getting 30 percent of its jet fuel from alternative fuels by 2030
  • Expanding on-site renewable energy generation and procurement of renewable energy credits

The company has made impressive gains in meeting and exceeding these goals.

  • In FY12, FedEx achieved a 22% fuel efficiency improvement in the FedEx Express vehicle fleet since FY05. It also happily announced that FedEx Express increased its previously stated vehicle fuel efficiency goal by 50% to a 30% improvement by 2020, still using FY05 as the baseline year.
  • By the end of FY12, FedEx Express had increased its global electric vehicle and hybrid-electric vehicle fleet to 482 vehicles, an increase of nearly 18%. As of December 2012, these vehicles had logged 14.8 million miles and saved 480,000 gallons of fuel since being introduced to its fleet in 2005.

hcaholdings-inc-logoThe other Tennessee company making it to the Fortune 100 list is HCA Holdings, Inc. HCA Holdings’s corporate office is in Nashville. It’s the nation’s largest hospital chain and its revenues rose 8.7% over the past year. The magazine credits this to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, increasing its number of insured patients seeking healthcare.

HCA Holdings, Inc. has been on Fortune’s list for at least 22 years. The company employs more than 200,000 workers.

HCA has created a 2016 Sustainability Plan that mentions the collective impact all hospitals made in 2015 along with plans for the future in new construction projects including:

  • Pursuit of LEED Status – Several of HCA’s hospitals have received LEED Certified status or are in the final stages of such including it’s Nashville Data Center.
  • Alternative Energy Sources – Solar, wind, and combined heat and power energy systems can be incorporated into new construction. HCA’s Sustainability Plan says “an evaluation of the feasibility of these systems will occur for all future projects.

Local Motors Continues to Expand; Acknowledges IACMI During Grand Opening for Maryland Location

A vehicle powerhouse with Southeastern connections announced the expansion of operations with the opening of a National Harbor, Maryland facility earlier this month.

Local Motors, with locations in Knoxville, Tennessee, not only opened a Northeastern base but also introduced Olli, a self-driving vehicle, and praised the partnership of the Institute for Advanced Composites during the grand opening event.

iacmi-logoHundreds gathered for the event, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bruce Andrews.  During his speech Andrews lauded Local Motors’ innovation, IACMI and IACMI CEO Craig Blue, which are based in Knoxville.

“I am pleased to see Dr. Craig Blue, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, here with us. This Institute is developing new advanced composite materials with the goal of creating products that are lighter and stronger than anything on the market today. They’re also testing out new, cost-effective recycling methods for the automotive industry. And they’re partnering with dozens of companies, including Local Motors, to get technology out of the lab, into the market, and on the road.”

Craig Blue, IACMI CEO and Mark Johnson, Director of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, participated in the unveiling event.

The vehicle, dubbed ‘Olli,’ was unveiled during the grand opening of the new Local Motors facility and transported Local Motors CEO and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. along with vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. The electric vehicle, which can carry up to 12 people, is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle.

Olli will be used on public roads locally in DC, and late in 2016 in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

“Olli offers a smart, safe and sustainable transportation solution that is long overdue,” Rogers said. “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year. We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

Read more on the Local Motors Blog.