Boeing ramps up energy efficiency initiatives, drives usage down - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Industrial  -  August 17, 2016 - By Amy Poszywak

Boeing's energy strategy takes flight, cuts usage 4.3%

Photo courtesy of Boeing, showing the company's new, LEED-certified Seattle Delivery Center 

Exclusive to Smart Energy Decisions 

This story is the 12th in a series of original features exploring the successes of a selection of corporations recognized by the U.S. EPA's Energy Star program for achievements in energy efficiency. Each company we've talked with for this series, made possible through our partnership with Energy Star, has a unique story about their efforts to reduce electric use across their organization. Taken in aggregate, we hope the series provides readers with a useful glimpse into the kinds of strategies being implemented across the commercial and industrial sectors as well as a deeper understanding of vetted, real-life tactics for cutting consumption.

The Boeing Company, famous for its state-of-the-art airplanes used by armed forces and celebrities alike, is making strides in a new area of expertise: Energy efficiency.

The commercial jetliner and military aircraft manufacturer has made big strides in efficiency in recent years, evidenced in its reporting of a 4.3% reduction in energy use while increasing aircraft deliveries by 10% in 2015. That accomplishment, according to Dean Gallinger, senior manager of Boeing's Environment and Utilities Services group, speaks to the successful implementation of an energy strategy his team developed in 2012.

"As your company is growing and you're building more products, that's what you want to do,"Gallinger recently told Smart Energy Decisions. "You want your footprint to grow, and you want your product to be sold more, but at the same time you also want to use energy more efficiently and conserve energy where you can."

In developing that 2012 energy strategy, Gallinger's team worked with Boeing sites across the globe to come up with a long-term roadmap for driving Boeing's energy efficiency performance against an established baseline. Supporting that overarching strategy were a number of initiatives, including the decision to pursue LEED certification for new building construction; a series of "lean energy assessments" similar to the Energy Star-promoted energy treasure hunts many companies utilize; and the creation of additional employee involvement teams and communication strategies that have helped to create a culture of engagement among Boeing's 160,000 employees across 65 countries.

Effective monitoring of progress made toward Boeing's goals plays an absolutely vital role in ensuring those goals are actually met, Gallinger explained: 

When we make these goals and put them in place, we don't let them slide. We actually track their progress monthly against our plans which cannot be changed for the year. Once we put those plans in and everyone signs off on them, they're tracked. That site, that location is tracked on what they say they're going to commit to. We're constantly monitoring the sites and helping to ensure they achieve their goals.

Key lessons Boeing has learned over the years, Gallinger said, include the importance of leaving plenty of time for the planning process in developing an energy strategy; having buy-in and support from the very top of the company early on in the process; and clear and effective employee communication.

"You can never overcommunicate," he said. "Every little thing adds up when you have 160,000 employees." 

Boeing was recognized for its 2015 initiatives in energy efficiency with Energy Star's partner of the year, sustained excellence award for energy efficiency program delivery. According to Energy Star, Boeing has invested $7.8 million in direct energy conservation to reduce energy use by more than 42,000 million British thermal units annually. 

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