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Solar panels produce clean energy, decrease Aetna’s carbon footprint

Apr 20 2015

Editor’s note: Earth Day celebrates its 45th birthday in 2015, marking decades of work to educate people about the environment and how to protect it. Companies like Aetna are doing their part to adopt practices and invest in upgrades that are generating clean energy while reducing carbon emissions. The essay below is by Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini and appears in the Business Roundtable’s 2015 Sustainability Report “Create, Grow, Sustain:  Leading by Example.”

Mark 2013 Seated

Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman & CEO

As an organization focused on building a healthier world, we are ever mindful of our impact on the environment around us. We are focused on implementing changes – both big and small – that protect our most valuable resources. Our efforts include myriad initiatives focused on renewable energy, energy use reduction, building performance and conservation.

In 2015, we will complete our third major solar panel installation at an Aetna-owned facility, increasing the amount of clean energy we produce by 70 percent. Through 2014, our solar fields in Hartford and Windsor, Conn., produced 1.74 million kwh of electricity from renewable energy sources. This is equivalent to 1,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions savings.

All Aetna-owned facilities use the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager program, allowing better monitoring of on-going energy consumption. We have also leased 33 ENERGY STAR®-labeled facilities across the country. Combined, our owned and leased portfolio of properties reduced electrical consumption by 26.7 million kilowatt hours between 2010 and 2014, equivalent to a savings of 18,411 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

In 2015, we will complete the implementation of a retro-commissioning project at our Hartford, Conn., headquarters. This initiative uses technology to ensure that all building systems are operating at their peak performance – lowering costs and increasing efficiency. It also includes a preventive maintenance program, which alerts us as facility needs change and systems need upgrading.

Our employees actively participate in efforts to conserve our natural resources. We facilitate carpooling and telecommuting to help reduce commuter traffic and the pollutants it creates. More than 43 percent of our employees engage in teleworking. In 2014 alone, these teleworkers reduced Aetna’s carbon footprint by preventing 127 million miles of driving, saving 5.3 million gallons of gas and reducing CO2 emissions by 46,700 metric tons.

In addition, our conservation efforts include numerous recycling programs and initiatives aimed at reducing the use of paper, saving the equivalent of 28,472 trees. At Aetna-owned facilities, we recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles. In 2014, these properties recycled 1,733 tons of paper and cardboard, saving the equivalent of 3,914 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

The path to environmental sustainability is ever evolving. As approaches and technologies change, our primary focus remains – building healthier communities, a healthier nation and a healthier world. Doing so sustainably will ensure that our efforts will benefit generations to come.