Five ways SAS is going green
High-impact sustainability projects are in full swing at SAS offices across the globe
From solar power to water conservation to using its own sustainability software to measure and manage environmental initiatives, SAS is making large-scale efforts to make the company green. Read on for five specific steps SAS is taking to do its part for the environment – and see what you can apply to your own business.
Powered by the sun
In sunny Cary, NC, a one-megawatt capacity solar farm at SAS headquarters is generating sustainably sourced power for the Progress Energy grid. Covering five acres and utilizing sun tracking technology, the solar farm generates about 1.7 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. The solar farm reduces carbon dioxide emissions from conventionally produced electricity by more than 1,600 tons annually. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of more than 167,000 gallons of gasoline. The project has been so successful that SAS has decided to more than double the solar farm’s size by adding another 1.2 megawatts of capacity, for a total annual estimated generation of 3.7 million kilowatt-hours.
At SAS headquarters, two new facilities are being built with sustainable construction methods to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. The SAS Executive Briefing Center is designed to help conserve energy and water, and includes features such as thermal slab floor cooling, radiant floor heating, regenerative drive elevators and solar-generated hot water and electricity. SAS is also building a cloud computing facility which is designed with highly efficient mechanical and electrical systems, including a cooling system that will use reclaimed water. In addition, both buildings will have an economizer that uses outside air for cooling.
A kilowatt saved …
To help reduce energy consumption, SAS completed installation of energy management systems in office buildings at company headquarters. Additionally, employee energy awareness campaigns and proactive facilities maintenance programs helped SAS headquarters decrease electricity trend usage by 9 percent for non-data center operations.
Global offices also realized significant reductions in electricity usage due to employee educational efforts and innovative solutions. The United Kingdom office posted signs and sent e-mails to remind employees to turn off lights and equipment. The Australian office realized an 18 percent electricity reduction from creative solutions such as
- Installing sail shades on windows that directly face the sun.
- Recalibrating the air-conditioning system to increase efficiencies.
- Replacing all lights with energy efficient globes.
- Installing motion sensors to control lights in meeting rooms.
In addition, the LEED-certified building that houses SAS Canada in Toronto saves an estimated 6 million kilowatt-hours annually over traditionally constructed office buildings.
Water conservation: waste not, want not
At SAS headquarters, conservation challenges and efforts to raise employee awareness about water usage, combined with the installation of low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucet aerators in all buildings on the Cary, NC campus, resulted in an annual savings of 6 percent or 7,209 cubic meters less municipal water used for campus buildings.
Global offices also realized significant reductions in water usage through employee educational campaigns and innovative water conservation solutions. The SAS UK office uses sewage-grade water for landscape irrigation and lavatory flushing. The Australia office realized a 15 percent reduction from the installation of dual-flush cisterns, waterless urinals and faucet aerators. They also perform regular maintenance and monitoring of consumption patterns. The Netherlands office uses captured rainwater to irrigate gardens.
At the SAS-owned LEED-certified building in Toronto, SAS has applied LEED principles for water efficiency, including a storm water management and rainwater recovery system. The rainwater harvesting system recovers nearly 1 million liters of rainwater annually and reuses that water for toilets and plant irrigation. The collected rain is stored in tanks located in the basement of the building. In combination with low-flow washroom devices, the rainwater recovery system has significantly reduced demand for city potable water. It also relieves stress on street sewer systems from rain runoff demands.
SAS uses its own sustainability software
Naturally, SAS uses its own technology to measure and analyze the performance of its sustainability initiatives. SAS® for Sustainability Management, released in April 2008, provides built-in templates for the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Global Reporting Initiative, providing the common measurement and reporting methodologies that SAS can leverage to ensure consistency across the 105 countries in which it operates.
Calculating the greenhouse gas emissions of SAS’ US operations was the first phase of the technology rollout in 2007. Once the consumption data was aggregated from all US locations, SAS was able to analyze key sources of emissions and top drivers of energy, as well as identify potential opportunities for future reductions.
The second phase of the project was to expand the application globally, collecting 2008 data from all offices and focusing improvement opportunities on operations in SAS-owned facilities. The global sustainability footprint in SAS for Sustainability Management provided a powerful visual tool to communicate relative performance across all SAS locations. Now SAS is expanding to capture and analyze data on a monthly basis and is piloting emissions measurements for commercial air travel and shipping operations in the US.
Since SAS began in 1976, sustainability has been one of the company’s core values driving innovation. “Sustainability means more than being ‘green,’” says SAS CEO Jim Goodnight. “It means that SAS takes a long-term view when we make business decisions, whether they involve attracting, retaining and motivating the best employees; serving our customers; or caring for our physical environment.”
Alyssa Farrell is a Product Marketing Manager for Sustainability Solutions at SAS