Efforts to Reduce Energy Consumption and Emissions
Reducing our energy consumption, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in particular, is a key pillar of our environmental management strategy. We annually disclose our companywide carbon footprint, including Allstate’s GHG emissions and our strategy to manage these emissions, via the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) voluntary questionnaire.
In 2011, our overall energy use decreased by 5.06 percent, representing a total 4.76 percent reduction from our 2007 baseline. We also achieved our carbon footprint goal by reducing our GHG emissions by 9 percent over the prior year, or a total 24 percent reduction since 2007.
A significant portion of these reductions can be attributed to our concerted effort to reduce our real estate footprint. Recent renovations at our corporate headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois, as well as at other owned facilities in Irving, Texas, Hudson, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Florida, have allowed us to consolidate our employees into fewer buildings as well as maximize opportunities to significantly improve the energy efficiency of these facilities through upgrades to original building systems such as lighting, HVAC, metering systems and smart controls.
We view these renovations as a true “win-win-win” situation. We have less square footage to heat, cool and maintain; we’re achieving significant energy efficiency gains; and we’re creating more open, collaborative environments for our employees.
We have made similar efforts with our leased real estate portfolio. We achieved significant progress in 2011 implementing our “City Strategy,” which aims to consolidate multiple offices in larger metropolitan areas into single facilities. For example, in the Phoenix/Tempe region, we are consolidating six separate business units and co-locating onto two floors of a new building in downtown Tempe.
We expect to be able to continue this real estate consolidation for the next few years. Every year, approximately 20 percent of our leased portfolio comes up for renewal. Whenever the decision is made to relocate or to consolidate one of those locations, we look for newer, more energy-efficient space.
Our energy and GHG emissions reduction efforts also focus on energy-saving initiatives for our building operations and maintenance — such as optimizing energy use in heating, air conditioning, computers, lighting and other essentials. While our conservation efforts are focused primarily on the property we own, specifically our Home Office campus where nearly 8,000 employees are located, we are making similar efforts with our leased spaces as we develop a comprehensive calculation of our carbon footprint.
We also work to engage our employees on sustainability issues, including climate change. We created an informal network of “Green Champions” to harness employee passion and ideas for improving Allstate’s environmental commitment and performance. We have also established several departmental “Green Teams” tasked with encouraging energy efficiency among employees. Programs implemented include:
- Reducing electricity and natural gas usage in all of our facilities
- Promoting use of campus shuttle buses at our Home Office campus in Northbrook, Illinois
- Establishing periodic rideshare days
- Decreasing paper use
- Implementing a campus-wide electronics recycling program for employees’ personal items (Home Office campus)
- Increasing the use of recyclable containers and testing the use of reusable “to go” containers in our cafeterias
Our Green Champions play a key role in helping us infuse sustainability throughout our culture.
In addition to our focus on energy - saving initiatives in our buildings, we concentrate on reducing the environmental impact of company travel. The nature of our work requires frequent travel — by air and by car—by our employees and agents to meet with our customers face to face.
To address this, we focus on improving overall air quality by minimizing the consumption of fossil fuels and reducing harmful emissions, airborne pollutants, traffic and parking lot congestion. We help reduce drive-alone commuting by expanding the availability and use of commuting alternatives for employees. We also maintain our company fleet of 1,200 vehicles in optimal condition by performing preventive maintenance and conducting regular emissions tests.
This past year, we also invested in new fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel cars for the company fleet as well as encouraged teleconferencing instead of air travel.
In recent years, we have seen greater weather volatility and more extreme weather catastrophes — trends that are impacting our customers and our financial performance. Because climate risk is such a significant issue to our business, we monitor prevailing scientific analysis about how climate change might affect the future frequency and severity of hurricanes. And we regularly discuss such trends with premier hurricane modelers. We recognize that while climate change presents many risks to our industry, it also offers opportunities for innovation — and it is incumbent upon us to develop innovative products and services to help manage future risks.
Another component of Allstate’s strategy with respect to climate change is our interest in environmentally friendly investment opportunities with attractive risk/reward trade-offs. The company portfolio includes investments in wind, hydro and geothermal projects.
We also strive to increase awareness and preparedness within our industry and the government, as well as among customers and consumers. As part of our focus on preparing and protecting families and communities from natural catastrophe, Allstate helped create the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IIBHS) Research Center in South Carolina. The Center, which opened in late 2010, focuses on creating disaster-resistant communities.
IIBHS’ mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Allstate partners with IIBHS to promote more durable homes and commercial buildings by improving building practices and by strengthening building codes so our communities are more resilient against natural catastrophes.
Allstate is also a founding member of the coalition ProtectingAmerica.org, which encourages the development of a public-private partnership to better prepare and protect communities from natural catastrophe risk.
By raising awareness, educating the public and policymakers, and offering solutions to better prepare and protect consumers, taxpayers and the American economy the ProtectingAmerica.org coalition is working to:
- Improve financial protection for consumers by establishing special catastrophe backstops at the state and national level to provide recovery and rebuilding funds in case of a major natural catastrophe
- Support efforts to improve prevention and mitigation programs through stronger building codes
- Augment homeowner education and consumer protections to make sure people are better prepared for catastrophes before they strike
- Strengthen first responders by enhancing existing emergency response protocols
- Improve relief, recovery, and rebuilding by developing new processes to stage and deploy essential relief materials and to make sure there are adequate building materials, supplies, and licensed contractors available in the aftermath of a catastrophe
Since its formation, ProtectingAmerica.org has achieved several important milestones, in which Allstate has played a key role. They include:
- Building a coalition of more than 350 member organizations, including emergency management officials, first responders, catastrophe relief experts, large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations and insurers
- Raising awareness, supplying information to hundreds of media outlets and other public information sources
- Educating policymakers across the country
- Appearing before numerous legislative and related committees at the state and national levels
- Helping craft and advance specific legislative proposals that address this issue
Additionally, a senior member of Allstate’s Law and Regulation department serves as national director of ProtectingAmerica.org, working with the National Co-Chairs of the coalition, James Lee Witt, Former Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Admiral James M. Loy, Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security and Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (Retired).