Novartis addresses climate change
Climate change got top billing at the recent G-8 summit in Italy when world leaders pledged to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
With governments now committed to tackling climate change, energy efficiency has become a key topic in policy discussions. For companies, with energy likely to become a growing cost factor, efficiency improvements and alternative sources have also become drivers for cost reduction and long-term success.
At Novartis, energy efficiency has improved by more than 25% since 2003.
"We have found many simple ways to increase our energy efficiency," says Keith Saveal, Head of Corporate Health, Safety and Environment at Novartis. "Between 2005 and 2008, our energy usage showed a significant reduction in growth compared to previous years, despite our continued business growth." Simply put, increasing energy efficiency has become a way of life at Novartis.
Novartis global energy use (in Terajoule (TJ), absolute)
Combining internal and external actions
In 2005, the Novartis Group of companies voluntarily committed for their operations globally to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to five percent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, Novartis projections through to 2012 indicated that the Group's GHG emissions must shrink by 100 000 tons of CO2 (i.e., 25% of group-wide GHG emissions in 2008) annually to achieve the Kyoto target.
To achieve this goal, the Novartis Group embarked on a dual strategy:
- improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable resources
- engage in carbon offset sequestration projects
"We knew we could accomplish a lot with the existing technology. But even more could be done with new and emerging technologies," says Saveal. "So, we looked for creative energy projects, such as projects that focus on energy recovery, improvements of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and renewable energy."
Energy efficiency: good for the environment, good for business
Reducing our carbon footprint
Novartis has established two carbon offset projects to sequester GHG emissions. In Argentina, we purchased land to grow a sustainable mixed forest. In Mali, we are setting up a jatropha plantation. Together, these projects will save every year the annual carbon dioxide equivalent of the entire air travel for the company.
The program also demonstrates that energy efficiency is good business. The 46 projects when submitted in 2008 had already achieved USD 17 million in cost savings - equivalent to 5% of worldwide annual energy costs at the Novartis Group.
In addition, the company's "green car" policy aims to reduce CO2 emissions from its owned and leased vehicles. By 2010, Novartis intends to curb vehicle emissions by 10% (based on 2005 levels) by using hybrid and diesel cars fitted with particulate filters.
All of these measures are putting the Novartis Group on the path to a cleaner, safer environment. "Today, protecting the climate is an integral part of our business strategy," concludes Saveal.
On the way to “zero energy” buildings
New buildings at the Novartis headquarters in Basel consume only about one third of the average energy used by office buildings in Switzerland. Through the purchase of 100% renewable electricity and free cooling from river water, the new buildings are CO2-free.