Pulse news magazine

Volume 19, May 2017

Sustaining a bright future

Community gardens
For the last seven years, Electronic Systems has actively reduced its carbon footprint and significantly lowered the sector’s operating expenses. Environmentally conscious projects, brought to life by employees, are an important part of the effort.

BAE Systems Electronic Systems sector’s Business Sustainability initiative incorporates sustainable thinking, total cost of ownership, and industry best practices into facility designs and operations to manage or reduce energy and water consumption and decrease waste. Environmental projects—which began in 2015 to propel the initiative—allow Electronic Systems (ES) to enhance its environmental performance, involve employees, and positively impact local communities.

“We are committed to being socially responsible, not just because it lowers costs, but because it’s good for our employees,” Morgan Rooney, a facilities planner specialist for ES, said. “We care about them and the environment in which they work.”

Environmental projects within the initiative fall into one of six categories: energy, water, waste, site impact, employee engagement, or programs. To ensure a well-rounded approach, at least one project in each category is implemented annually. So far, close to 30 projects have been completed. Projects are led by local sector Facilities’ departments and the businesses’ Sustainability Department, with help from the Safety, Health & Environment (SHE) function, site Sustainability Committees, and employees.

“The environmental projects provide a multi-faceted benefit to the sector and lets us reduce our overall environmental impact, engage employees, explore new technologies, and lower our operating expenses,” Nick Daciuk, a sustainability engineer, said.

In 2016 alone, 20 projects did just that—conserving 2.7 million kilowatt-hours of energy, 3.5 million gallons of water, and diverting 98 tons of waste from landfills.

Electronic Systems sustainability accomplishments diagram

While the environmental significance is evident, the projects’ ability to bring employees together is also telling.

A sustainable landscaping project that adopts native plants to conserve land and reduce water consumption was completed at ES’ Austin, Texas and San Diego, California sites.

Paula Mondebello, a Community Investment lead in Austin, said that many employees at the site volunteered to help bring the campus’ 140-acre property back to its natural environment, removing invasive grasses, weeds, and trees in the process (Electronic Systems Pulse, Vol. 17, p.18).

The site’s achievements, which also include an annual initiative to utilize 10 million gallons of reclaimed water in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, earned a celebratory visit from former First Lady Laura Bush in September 2016. The visit included a tour of the campus and its two educational gardens showcasing native grasses and flowers.

In Greenlawn, New York, more than 80 employees participate in the site’s community garden, a raised bed garden with 150 boxes that individual employees or groups of employees can use.

Lynn Alfano, a program manager at the site, said the garden allows her to spend time with her coworkers while finding some serenity in the middle of or after a long day.

Alfano has two boxes—one to grow vegetables and one for zinnias. Her zinnia box, located at the garden’s entrance, features a handwritten sign inviting employees to cut their own bouquets.

“You don’t have to be a gardener to enjoy the garden, it’s for everyone,” said Alfano, adding that its presence continues to build a more positive work environment.

Employee charging vehicle at charging station Electric vehicle charging stations in South Nashua, New Hampshire, San Diego and San Jose, California, and Greenlawn, New York, also enable employees to achieve their environmental goals.

The station in South Nashua gives Harrison Williams a chance to charge his plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt between his 100-mile daily commute, making his trips to the gas station less frequent. He is one of 23 employees actively using the stations.

By powering up while at work, Williams, a first-year participant in ES’ Engineering Leadership Development Program, said he covers just under half of his daily commute on battery power.

Another ongoing project, which has so far replaced 50,000 fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs across numerous sites, saves the sector $250,000 annually. It is a practice that employees can learn from and bring into their own homes.

Direct and indirect benefits to the company and employees can be found in every project, with each successful completion often leading to new ideas. External benefits are present too, as efforts contribute to the annual Corporate Responsibility Report, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and others.

An additional 21 environmental projects are planned for 2017, with several already underway.

Sean Delehanty, ES’ Business Sustainability manager, said he hopes to engage other functions in the future, further enhancing the sector’s overall sustainability initiatives.

“Employees want to see that their company is concerned about its environmental impact,” he said, adding that employees are encouraged to share their sustainability ideas through the Empower Program. “It takes everyone working together to continue moving our effort forward.”

By Ali Flewelling, Communications, Hudson, New Hampshire