Companies are finding that undertaking sustainability initiatives can help both the environment and bottom line. Yet such endeavors are not without challenges. Becoming greener is a delicate balancing act between managing costs, organizational impact, and the drive for real business growth.
Assurant works with its partners, vendors and employees to reduce energy use, encourage recycling, support alternative modes of transportation and promote environmental awareness.
"We approach our sustainability initiatives with a big picture mindset," said Denson Stilwell, director of engineering and operations for Assurant, Inc. "Assurant has increased air and lighting quality in our main offices and monitor consumption levels for electricity, paper, waste and water. When we look at our key environmental metrics, compared to other companies in our industry, we are equal or better though still striving to further improve."
Assurant's main offices reduced energy use by approximately 6,000,000 kilowatt hours or 11 percent between 2010 and 2012. In 2013, the goal is to reduce total usage by three percent more. Four Assurant buildings already are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA's) ENERGY STAR certified for energy efficiency performance. Our goal is to add additional Assurant sites as ENERGY STAR partners in 2014.
These designations reflect Assurant's efforts to incorporate energy-saving initiatives into day-to-day operations. Simple changes, such as switching to more efficient LED lighting, can have a dramatic impact.
On the other hand, some endeavors have helped the company break new ground.
Recently, on Earth Day 2013, Assurant announced the dedication of the largest solar installation in the Springfield-Dayton, Ohio area. More than 6,200 solar panels were installed at Assurant Specialty Property Springfield campus to help the company learn more about the solar industry.
"Assurant developed our first-ever insurance for commercial-scale projects using the information we gleaned from the project development process. Solar insurance helps to create the financial climate necessary to ensure that expensive projects such as this installation are protected," said Jeanne Schwartz, vice president of new venture commercialization. "The Springfield project and our solar insurance are great examples of Assurant integrating sustainability efforts to support business growth. We are thrilled to be part of the efforts to develop additional solar energy capacity in the U.S. and develop a clean energy economy."
The new solar panels generate electricity for the Assurant Specialty Property campus in Springfield and will help control energy costs for the next 20 years.