Electricity consumption is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with our operations. By inspiring our global sites to make reductions in energy use and increase investments in renewable energy, we aim to lower our GHG emissions intensity levels.
We are making significant progress, from identifying our highest-emitting activities to engaging employees across our company to adopt a more energy-efficient mindset — all of which will help move us closer to achieving our GHG intensity goal.
Some of our most successful initiatives to engage employees in energy-reduction efforts have been “Energy Treasure Hunts” at select facilities. During these events, cross-functional teams identify possible day-to-day energy-efficiency improvements. The goal is to find opportunities to reduce energy use, costs and GHG emissions related to energy.
Many of these opportunities are low- or no-cost improvements and are relatively easy to implement, such as the installation of more efficient lighting and mechanical systems, ovens, motors, belts and drives, fans and pumps, refrigeration systems and office equipment. Treasure Hunts were conducted at 17 Xylem sites around the world in 2018, starting with our highest resource-consuming facilities.
During 2018, we invested in five important projects involving replacement of less-efficient lighting units with LED lighting. Such projects were executed in Bridgeport, New Jersey; Uniontown, Pennsylvania; Cheektowaga, New York; Lubbock, Texas; Santiago, Chile; Hoddesdon, UK; and Chihuahua, Mexico. It is estimated that the yearly impact/reduction of those projects should be around 490,000 kWh per year of electricity and 241 tons per year of CO2 emissions.
One of the simplest ways to reduce our overall GHG emissions is through the purchase of renewable or “green” energy credits and renewable energy. As of year-end 2018, 67 Xylem manufacturing facilities and sales offices purchased electricity generated from renewable sources — up from 57 in 2017. Combined, these sites purchased 18,234 CO2-equivalent metric tons in renewable energy, electricity and gas during 2018, a 13 percent increase over the prior year.
In addition to purchasing renewable electricity, our sales office in the Netherlands offsets its natural gas consumption through certified green natural gas credits. Through the Gold Standard Foundation’s Fairtrade Carbon Credit program, companies such as Xylem are able to invest in green energy; increase the resilience of producer groups to the negative impacts of climate change; and help provide a more sustainable future for communities through diversifying community income streams, teaching new skills and creating local employment.
Another focus area is reducing air quality emissions. We are working to move away from using paints that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toward water-based painting systems in our operations. In 2018, our Nanjing China, LEED Platinum-certified facility, made the transition to a fully water-based paint system. Learn more about the transition below. Where this is not possible, we are generally destroying VOCs or using materials with lower VOC content. For example, our production facility in Emmaboda burns VOCs and reuses heat from its painting process.
In 2018, (and also from 2015 to 2017), 39 Xylem employees from the Wedeco site in Herford/Germany took part in an internal bike commute program.
Employees were encouraged to commute by bike and the distance between their home and workplace was covered by bike and not by car. This goes hand-in-hand with the company‘s bike leasing program. By making a donation towards Watermark per kilometer, the company encouraged more colleagues to get involved with Watermark.
From May until August, the program tracked:
This CO2 footprint is equivalent to over three metric tons of savings.
With 450 employees, a large test lab and test tanks and an increased electrical car fleet, the site leadership at Xylem Sundbyberg needed to find a way to increase energy efficiency, and lower the energy costs without compromising the work environment or the important product testing program.
A dialogue with the landlord, AMF, resulted in an investment in solar power, with solar cells to cover most of the lab roof, as well as a replacement of current lighting in the building to LED lighting.
In the spring of 2018, the work with mounting solar cells started. After some delays due to harsh weather, the project was finalized in the summer, with 956 square meters of solar panels covering the lab roof. All the lighting in the building was replaced with modern LED lights at the same time.
At the end of 2018, the new lighting had reduced the energy consumption by 160,000 kWh, approximately 10 % of the annual consumption. The solar panels are expected to further decrease the power consumption by 9 % annually.
In 2018, the Xylem Nanjing site acted on lowering the environmental impacts from solvent-based paints used in production. According to Chinese government data, ozone is emerging as an emerging health threat, causing more than 70,000 premature deaths in 2016. Both industry and transport are two leading sources and the result is volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Last year, the Nanjing site utilized nearly 30 tons of paint for production. The plans to reduce emissions were well underway when the Department of Ecology and Environment of Jiangsu Province announced guidelines to curb VOC emission. After sourcing and engineering planning for several months, an engineering change notice was released in August, Standard Operating Procedures were announced in September and training began immediately.
“This is better for employee health, better for a blue sky and better for saving on less waste treatment in the future,” said Juchang Wu, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at the site.
The update to water-based paints and the redesigned painting booth led to a reduction in 90% of painting mist emission. In other words, VOC emission amounts (in pounds) went from 43,609 pounds from February to September in 2018. From October 2018 to May 2019, VOC emission is 27,497 pounds. This is an eight-month reduction of 37%.