Making Earth Day a 365 Mindset
As American marine biologist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Rachel Carson notably said, “In nature, nothing exists alone.” This seems especially fitting as we contemplate Earth Day this week and consider how working together toward developing a 365 Earth Day mindset for the future can start with everything from walking or biking to work to choosing renewable energy in our homes and to power our cars.
As a leading diversified energy company, Avangrid strongly believes that renewables are an important part of practicing a 365 mindset. It’s visible throughout our company culture at events like our Sustainability & Wellness Expo for employees. It’s put into practice through our work through the Avangrid Foundation. We dive into that mindset further in our newly released 2018 sustainability report — our third since we debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. As outlined in the report, here are three ways we’re taking steps each day to work toward a better tomorrow, together.
1. Expanding access to affordable and clean energy
Avangrid supports the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), defined by the United Nations for the years 2015-2030. This includes UN Sustainability Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
In 2018, 89% of our installed generating capacity was emission-free. Our core energy generation is clean, emission-free wind and solar energy. Continuing on that theme, our smart energy grid technology provides communities with cleaner, reliable, consistent energy, with renewables and traditional generation working together in the U.S. energy mix.
We’re investing in a smarter, cleaner energy future and have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. We support the UN in the belief that renewables are an important part of the energy sector’s response to climate change and a vital contributor to energy security.
2. Taking responsibility for our environmental impact
We’re working to lessen our environmental footprint by reducing harmful emissions, managing resources, recycling waste and modeling energy efficiency. Our approach starts in our own facilities, with a focus on how we handle fuel, waste and water.
Fuel: Our fleet vehicles are on the road 24/7 as we respond to incidents, perform maintenance work and access remote facilities. We manage fuel consumption by deploying electric vehicles when appropriate, managing vehicle idling and using adaptive technologies such as line trucks with electric-assisted bucket lifts.
Waste: Our employees live in the communities where we operate and strive to recover, recycle or reuse waste whenever possible. Most of our facilities now have zero-sort recycling programs in place, an approach that enables multiple varieties of recyclable goods to go into a single receptacle, making recycling simpler.
Water: We consume water for energy generation, sanitation, fleet maintenance, heating, cooling and more. Installation of water-saving equipment such as low-flow toilets has helped to manage the amount required, even as we expand our activities.
3. Protecting wildlife and biodiversity
The areas where we generate energy also serve as habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species. On Earth Day, and every day, we recognize that it’s our responsibility to understand and manage our impact on habitats and wildlife. That’s why we seek out and partner with nonprofit environmental protection organizations and regulatory agencies to find solutions.
In 2018, the Avangrid Foundation invested more than $1.7 million in programs to protect birds, bats and a variety of other wildlife. To advance these initiatives, we work through the Avangrid Foundation, which starts with strong corporate governance and a commitment to ethics and integrity, as well as our core commitment to safety, security and our employees.
The Avangrid Foundation is a lead participant in the Bats for the Future Fund, a public-private partnership that works to combat white-nose syndrome, a fungal illness that is blamed for the deaths of more than six million bats nationwide in the past decade. In 2018, the Bats for the Future Fund — which also includes support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and Southern Company — announced $1.1 million in grants to help combat the illness.
Looking ahead to 2019, the Avangrid Foundation has committed an additional $1 million to support the Bats for the Future Fund over the next three years. Just another example of how by working together, on Earth Day and every day, we can transform the world around us for a better tomorrow.
Read our sustainability report and check out the next blog post in our three-part series to learn how the shift to renewable energy is boosting local economies and creating jobs.