Sustainability 101 Case Example: Union Pacific

Founded more than 150 years ago, Union Pacific Railroad connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the United States by rail, which provides a critical link in the global supply chain. For the full year 2014, Union Pacific reported net income of $5.2 billion.

More than 90 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from locomotive fuel to transport customers’ products. While as a company “we had frequently communicated that trains were four times more fuel efficient than trucks, we learned that statistic wasn’t as valued as a public goal.”

“When we proposed a goal to improve fuel efficiency, our senior management understood how such a goal clearly states the company’s commitment to sustainability.”

[This case example originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Sustainability 101 Case Example: Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms is the family-owned parent company of Perdue Foods and Perdue AgriBusiness. The company is “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for everyone we touch through innovative food and agricultural products,” and had sales of approximately $6 billion in 2014.

“We were sustainable before sustainability was cool… We had tracked our water and energy usage for a very long time, and were always looking for ways to reduce them. Back then, it was called “frugality.” Now, we’ve expanded those basic metrics into a comprehensive environmental scorecard used to assess the performance and environmental impact of each of our facilities against annual improvement goals that are set. These improvements, as measured by the scorecard results, are a core part of our management incentive program.”

[This case example originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Sustainability 101 Case Example: Gannett Fleming

Gannett Fleming is a planning, design, technology, and construction management service firm with more than 2,000 employees in 65 countries and with 2014 revenues in excess of $327 million.

With respect to Gannett Fleming’s work in the private sector, there is a clear link between being green and the bottom line. Nearly $70 million of the global “infrastructure and environmental” firm’s annual revenue is generated from private-sector clients who elect only to work with firms that have a documented corporate sustainability program.

The results of Gannett Fleming’s internal strategic sourcing program created an “aha moment” among the firm’s leadership. In mid-2013, the firm formalized a partnership with a large national retailer to handle procurement of office supplies, products, office furniture, shipping, and equipment. The program goal is to realize cost reductions from contractual pricing, reduce the administrative burden associated with accounts payable, eliminate unnecessary office supply purchases and waste, and be better equipped to monitor its cleaning product purchases to ensure it uses environmentally friendly supplies. Within only one year, Gannett Fleming has been able to demonstrate:

  • 38 percent of the products it purchased included recycled, remanufactured, or other green attributes.
  • None of its corporate purchases were made at a retail store, which means it eliminated any carbon emissions associated with travel to a store.
  • The company had 191 fewer deliveries for office supplies in 2014 than 2013, eliminating 860 pounds of CO2.
  • It significantly reduced the administrative burden associated with processing payments for supplies, which saved time and money.

[This case study originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Sustainability 101 Case Example: Ashland

Ashland is a global specialty chemical company operating in more than 100 countries. The chemistries Ashland provides enable pharmaceuticals that excel in form and function, anti-aging ingredients in skin-care products, more sustainable building products, lighter yet stronger wind-turbine blades, and advanced recycled motor oils that reduce energy consumption.

One of Ashland’s business units (Valvoline) needed to respond to a request from a major customer (Walmart) about its sustainability efforts. Valvoline had not previously embraced sustainability and needed to develop a program that over time addressed specific requirements. The sustainability effort was led by the Senior Vice President of Valvoline and driven through the organization down to the operational sites.

The results of Valvoline’s initiatives have led to reduced energy consumption, reduced waste generation, and (in several cases) zero landfill sites. Water reduction was minimal, since the business did not consume large quantities of water. Conservation efforts have maintained water consumption to pre-2012 levels.

[This case study originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]