Energy and Emissions Reduction
A major element of our environmental-management strategy is reducing our energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Each year, we disclose our companywide carbon footprint, including Allstate’s GHG emissions and our strategy to manage them, via the CDP
(formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) voluntary questionnaire.
In 2012, our overall energy use decreased by 5.2%, representing a total 8.91% reduction from our 2007 baseline.
We also achieved our carbon footprint goal by reducing our GHG emissions by 3.12 percent over the prior year, or a total 21.79 percent reduction since 2007.
A significant portion of these reductions can be attributed to our ongoing efforts to reduce our real estate footprint. Every year, approximately 20 percent of our leased portfolio comes up for renewal. Whenever the decision is made to relocate or consolidate one of those locations, we look for newer, more energy-efficient space. In 2012, we consolidated operations in the Phoenix, Arizona area, reducing overall square footage from approximately 100,000 square feet to 66,000 square feet, a reduction of 34 percent.
In addition, whenever we renovate office space, we look for opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the facilities by upgrading building systems such as: lighting; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); metering systems; and smart controls. As part of these renovations, we’re also creating more open, collaborative environments for our employees (see Stakeholder section).
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 more than 8,000 employees are located—we are making similar efforts with our leased spaces as we develop a comprehensive calculation of our carbon footprint.
In 2012, we implemented two innovative energy-reduction initiatives:
Parking lot lights
By modifying the schedule of the parking-lot lights at our Home Office in Northbrook, we are reducing our annual energy consumption by 215,000 kWh, while still providing adequate lighting in the parking lots. Previously, the lights were automatically turned on at sunset and off at sunrise; the new schedule turns the lights off between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
Making changes in the cleaning schedule at our Home Office is expected to reduce annual energy consumption by up to 1,735,000 kWh. These changes occur between peak and non-peak times, saving as much as $95,000 per year.
Employee-led sustainability efforts
We work to engage with our employees about sustainability issues, including climate change. To this end, our informal network of Green Champions helps us 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
- Providing bicycles seasonally as an alternate mode of transportation among Home Office buildings
- 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 reusable “to go” containers in our cafeterias
Our Green Champions play a key role in helping us infuse sustainability throughout our culture.
Business travel and automobile use
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 car by our employees and agency owners to meet with our customers face to face.
To address this, we have revised the approval process for employee travel to cut down on unnecessary trips. We help reduce drive-alone commuting by expanding the availability and use of commuting alternatives for employees. We have also purchased vehicles that achieve better gas mileage; we maintain our company fleet of 3,867 vehicles in optimal condition by performing preventive maintenance and conducting regular emissions tests.
During our 2012 benefits open enrollment, Allstate offered a commuter benefit program for the first time. The program allows employees to have money deducted from their pay on a tax-free basis to use for public transportation. So far, 375 employees, many of them Esurance employees, have signed up for this program.
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 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’s our job 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. As a result, the company’s extensive investment portfolio includes holdings in wind, hydro, solar and geothermal energy 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, which 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 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 ensure 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 and 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).