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Boeing Reduces GHG Emissions, Energy Use Slightly in 2009

Boeing has reduced carbon dioxide emissions at major U.S. facilities by 31 percent, energy consumption by 32 percent, hazardous waste generation by 38 percent and water consumption by 43 percent on a revenue-adjusted basis since 2002, according to the company’s 2010 Environmental Performance Report.

Boeing says it’s on track to meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)  emissions, energy consumption, water consumption, and hazardous waste generation, all by 25 percent (on a revenue adjusted bases) between 2007 and 2012. The company also set a goal to improve its solid waste recycling rate by 25 percent on an absolute basis over the same time period.

In 2009, Boeing recycled 68 percent of the waste it generated, up from 64 percent in 2008. The company also reduced both energy consumption and GHG emissions by 0.3 percent. Hazardous waste generation increased, which Boeing attributed to increased airplane production compared to 2008.

Boeing also reduced absolute water consumption at its major U.S. sites by 6 percent in 2009.

Boeing continues to improve the environmental performance of its commercial airplanes and to develop sustainable biofuels for both commercial and military aircraft. As examples, Boeing’s two newest commercial airplanes, the 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8, are designed to be 16 to 20 percent more fuel efficient and generate significantly less emissions than the airplanes they will replace.

Boeing said it is committed to deliver at least a 15 percent improvement in fuel and CO2 efficiency with each new generation of commercial airplane.

Boeing is also improving the environmental performance of other airplanes including the 737, 767, 777, the Boeing NewGen Tanker and the F/A18 Super Hornet. As an example, the next-generation 737 is expected to offer an improved fuel efficiency of 2 percent, while a retrofit winglet package for the 767s in service will improve fuel efficiency by about 5.5 percent.

However, Boeing recently announced that it may scrap the engine retrofit for the 737 and instead redesign the aircraft.

In June 2009, Boeing and an industry team released a research study on sustainable biofuels that show that biofuel blends meet or exceed all technical parameters for commercial jet aviation fuel, including freezing point, flash point, fuel density and viscosity.

To promote the development of sustainable biofuels, Boeing is a founding member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, aimed at reducing GHG emissions from commercial aviation. The company also participates in the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, Algal Biomass Organization, and  Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.

The company is also looking at ways to improve the efficiency of the global air traffic control network, which is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial air travel by 12 percent. It is estimated that by reducing the length of the average commercial flight by one minute it could eliminate 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, says Boeing.

One advanced procedure developed by Boeing — tailored arrivals — allows flight controllers, supported by ground automation, to tailor flight paths, which will reduce both fuel consumption and emissions, says Boeing.

Boeing researchers have demonstrated this new technique at major international airports in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Miami, San Francisco and Sydney.

The four airlines that participated in the test at the San Francisco International Airport reduced fuel consumption by 1.1 million pounds (495,000 kilograms) and lowered CO2 emissions by nearly 3.6 million pounds (nearly 1.6 million kilograms) over a one year period.

Other Boeing initiatives include working with global suppliers to help them reduce their environmental footprints and improve their business operations, reducing chemicals — including chrome, halon, and cadmium — used to produce and maintain aerospace products, and developing solar cells, fuel cells and other clean-energy technologies through its new Energy Solutions group.

In 2009, Boeing also adopted the standard that all new construction and major renovation projects at Boeing owned U.S. buildings will meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating or higher.

Boeing’s recent renovation of its facilities in Kent, Wash., and Houston, Texas, were both certified as meeting the higher LEED Gold rating. Boeing’s new 787 final assembly facility, under construction in North Charleston, S.C., also will meet LEED Silver rating.

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