Colgate-Palmolive energy management - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  September 2, 2016 - By Amy Poszywak

At Colgate-Palmolive, a coalescence of climate, energy goals helps drive efficiency achievements

Exclusive to Smart Energy Decisions 

This story is the 13th 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.

Since 2009, The Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s energy management efforts have helped the company avoid more than $295 million in energy costs, increase its U.S. renewable energy purchases by 30%, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 9%. 

Beyond those numbers, the company's strategy for achieving them arguably tells an even more compelling story. For more than a decade, Colgate has worked to connect its energy management program to its broader climate strategy,  a move Energy Star said "influences the company’s carbon footprint through ambitious emissions goals, management of energy, and providing for low carbon products, energy and supply chain." 

Most recently, the company's adoption of science-based climate goals became the latest example of that effort: In 2014, the Colgate-Palmolive developed a 2020 goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing by 25% compared to 2002. That goal, according to Colgate-Palmolive spokeswoman Tatiana Muñoz, is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Carbon Pathway, one of the leading climate trajectories used for modeling and research.

Efforts to tie corporate energy and climate goals together first began in 2002 when Colgate-Palmolive started tracking energy-related greenhouse gas emissions data from its global factories, Muñoz recently told Smart Energy Decisions. Then in 2007, the company it set its first climate goal — to achieve a 25% CO2 intensity reduction by 2010 — which it subsequently achieved.

"Since 2002, our energy-reduction projects have helped us avoid nearly $500 million in energy costs," the company says in its 2015 sustainability report in discussing its overall climate strategy. "Managing the risk associated with climatic events such as storms and droughts is also important to ensure the continuity of our own operations and that of our supply chain." 

Inclusion in Colgate-Palmolive's broad climate strategy and the establishment of science-based goals has since helped spur additional investment in its global energy management program, though such investments had long been well-supported by a capital funding initiative the company calls"'5% for the Planet." That initiative, Muñoz said, sets minimum annual spending allocation guidelines for Colgate-Palmolive's manufacturing capital expenditure on supporting energy, GHG, water and waste reduction projects; according to Colgate's 2015 sustainability report, that initiative led to $17.9 million in energy investments last year, which are expected to create $2.8 million in annual savings.

Establishing science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals has also increased Colgate-Palmolive's renewable energy activities. 

"We have established a 2020 goal to promote the use of renewable energy and support development of low-carbon energy supply," she said. "Today we are purchasing green wind power from the U.S. grid as the primary method to help reduce our GHG emissions as well as help support the renewable energy infrastructure. In addition, we continue to evaluate, investigate and implement alternative and renewable energy strategies including onsite solar, onsite cogeneration and power purchase agreements."

In May, Colgate was named an Energy Star partner of the year for the sixth year in a row, with recognition for sustained excellence in its energy efficiency program delivery. All of its aforementioned reduction metrics, in addition to the implementation of its climate strategy, were listed among its key 2015 accomplishments. 

Colgate-Palmolive's full sustainability report is available on its website

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