As one of the world’s largest aluminum manufacturers, Alcoa uses massive amounts of energy in daily production, but by setting aggressive goals for waste reduction, water conservation, and now energy efficiency, it is seeking to position itself as a global leader in sustainability across the industry and in communities all over the country.
In late 2008, the company partnered with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change to launch a consumer campaign that would provide answers on how people could take actions in their daily lives to reduce environmental impacts.
Dubbed the Make an Impact program, the joint campaign focused on energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction to lessen climate change, and has proven to be a natural fit for the company’s Whitehall, Michigan division, Alcoa Howmet.
The Whitehall aerospace production facilities have been owned by Alcoa since 2001, and according to Bill Brockington, Alcoa Howmet’s manager of information technology, the Make An Impact program is the “next logical step” for the company’s environmental focus.
“Reduced energy consumption can help make our local manufacturing operations more efficient,” he told the White Lake Beacon, “and therefore more competitive while at the same time reducing our impact on the environment.”
The EPA reports that commercial and industrial facilities account for half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., at a cost of over $200 billion per year. Reducing emissions benefits both the environment and the bottom line, and employee behaviors are essential for saving energy and enhancing the workplace environment.
To encourage more employees to get involved in activities critical to reaching these long-term commitments, Alcoa Howmet personnel worked with Jennifer Denney Lawson, the program manager for the Pew Center’s Make an Impact program to develop an interactive website featuring a carbon calculator, and plans to publish a newsletter and host a series of community workshops on energy efficiency are in the works.
In recent years, the Alcoa Foundation has invested millions of dollars in community-driven climate change projects, including installation of a 588 kilowatt solar power system at a California manufacturing facility and doubling its recycling capabilities at a Can Reclamation facility in Tennessee. Recently the New York Times reported that the aluminum giant was testing a new type of solar technology it believed could lower the cost of renewable energy by replacing the glass in parabolic troughs with reflective aluminum and integrating the mirror into a single structure.