Boeing's new five-year environmental targets include zero growth in greenhouse gas emissions from facilities
The Boeing Delivery Center in Everett was awarded LEED Gold certification for its lower energy and water consumption and the use of recyclable and locally sourced materials (photo: Boeing)
Mon 30 Jun 2014 – After achieving its absolute reduction targets in the previous 2007-2012 period, Boeing’s latest annual environmental report details how the manufacturer is working towards zero growth from the end of 2012 in greenhouse gas emissions, water use and solid waste to landfill from its factories and facilities for the five-year period to 2017. Additionally, the company has committed to limiting hazardous waste generation to no more than the rate at which its business is growing, termed ‘zero revenue-adjusted growth’. Energy use has not been included in the new five-year targets but Boeing says it is looking for new opportunities to incorporate energy conservation technologies and sustainable materials into new building designs of its facilities. Boeing is also working on collaborative municipal solar power and hydrokinetic projects in California and Quebec.
According to its 2014 environmental report, Boeing concluded 2007 with a 9% reduction in CO2 emissions on an absolute basis since 2007, energy use by 3%, hazardous waste by 18% and water intake by 2%. On a revenue-adjusted basis, the company reduced CO2 emissions by 26%, energy use by 21%, hazardous waste by 33% and water intake by 20% since 2007. In 2012, 79% of the solid waste generated was diverted from landfill, a 36% improvement since 2007.
During the 2007-2012 period, cumulative reductions of CO2 emissions amounted to 420,000 tonnes. In terms of revenue-adjusted goals for the period, targets were met for reducing CO2 emissions and hazardous waste, but were missed for energy use and water intake, due, says the report, to an “unprecedented” growth in the company’s core business.
Boeing now relies on carbon-free hydroelectric and renewable energy sources for nearly half its total electricity consumption, with hydroelectric supplying more than 80% of the power for its Everett and Seattle facilities in Washington state. The North Charleston, South Carolina, site is powered by 100% renewable energy, sourced from 10 acres (4.05ha) of solar panels on the roof of the final assembly building, and coupled with renewable energy credits purchased from the local utility. Wind energy powers 20% of Boeing facilities in Southern California.
Environmental performance throughout a product’s life cycle, from design and manufacturing through in-service use and to end-of-service recycling and disposal is described by Boeing as its Design for Environment approach, in which the environmental footprint at each phase of a product’s life is analysed and reduced.
The company says it is working with the aerospace industry to reach a goal of recycling 90% of a retired aircraft by 2016.
“Aerospace is a complex, interconnected global industry with equally complex environmental challenges,” it adds. “Over the next five years, Boeing will continue to collaborate with industry groups, suppliers and regulators to improve the environmental performance of global aviation.”
Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, in a collaboration with NRG Energy, has just brought online its first community solar power plant in Southern California, one of the first of its kind in the United States. Six megawatts of power, generated from 25,000 solar panels arranged on 3,100 solar arrays spread across 37 acres (15ha), is capable of powering 2,200 average homes at full capacity.
Boeing, which provided engineering, procurement and construction for the project, and NRG are also building a 25.65 megawatt solar facility on the island of Guam, due to be completed later this year.
The company is also partnering with RER Hydro of Montreal in an agreement with the government of Quebec to provide more than 40 hydrokinetic turbines that will generate around nine megawatts of clean, renewable power. Once completed, the St Lawrence River near downtown Montreal will be the site of the world’s largest river-generated, hydrokinetic turbine farm.