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Boeing Relative Emissions Up on 2009, Down on 2002

Boeing’s revenue-adjusted energy use, CO2 emissions and water intake all rose last year compared to 2009, but were down significantly on 2002, according to the company’s 2011 Environment Report.

Boeing’s revenue last year fell six percent from $68 billion to $64 billion, while its CO2 fell three percent in absolute terms from 1.29 to 1.25 million metric tons. As a result, revenue-adjusted CO2 emissions were up three percent, from 18.91 to 19.5 metric tons per $1 million. Relative CO2 emissions have, however, seen the greater long-term improvement: 28 percent since 2002, compared to 13 percent for absolute emissions.

Boeing’s CO2 emissions primarily result from energy consumption, the company said. Absolute energy consumption fell three percent from 12.64 trillion BTUs in 2009 to 12.24 trillion BTUs in 2010, while revenue-adjusted energy use rose 2.8 percent from 185.15 to 190.37 trillion BTU. Again, the relative measure saw the greater improvement – 30 percent since 2002, compared to 15 percent for absolute energy use.

Boeing says that its new South Carolina site will be completely powered by renewable energy, including solar panels that will cover the roof of the 787 assembly building.

Water intake fell from 1.71 to 1.63 billion gallons in absolute terms in 2010, and improved 28 percent since 2002. While revenue-adjusted water intake was up from 25.09 in 2009 to 25.35 thousands of U.S. gallons per $1 million in 2010, it has also improved 41 percent since 2002.

Last year, Boeing’s output of hazardous waste improved in both absolute and relative terms, with U.S. tons per $1 million falling ten percent from 0.119 to 0.108. The proportion of non-hazardous solid waste diverted from landfills was up from 68 percent to 73 percent. The new South Carolina site is one of four Boeing facilities that will send zero non-hazardous solid waste to landfills, the company says.

From 2009 to 2010, Boeing saw environmental fines go up significantly, from $28,000 to $647,000. Boeing said most of the 2010 fines related to settlements for storm water permit violations at Santa Susana, Calif.

The report said that in 2010, Boeing made major changes in contracting language and expanded the use of environmental criteria in evaluating and selecting suppliers. It now asks suppliers to maximize the use of recycled materials, minimize hazardous waste, conserve energy and prevent pollution.

In the past year, Boeing unveiled its 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet, which boasts 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger, a 16 percent better fuel economy and 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the Boeing 747-400. It also launched the 747-8 Freighter, which it said will achieve the same environmental benefits.

More than 75 percent of Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ research-and-development budget effectively contributes to improved environmental performance, the report said. With the remotely-piloted X-48, Boeing is researching and testing aerodynamics and system concepts that it says could reduce the carbon footprint of aircraft by an additional 20 percent.

In the past year, airlines and militaries have performed biofuel test flights with a variety of Boeing aircraft, the manufacturer says, including an AH-64 Apache operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and U.S. Air Force flights involving Boeing C-17s and F-15s.

The U.S. Air Force has approved its entire Boeing C-17 Globemaster III fleet for unrestricted flight operations with a biofuels blend. The Air Force is in the process of amending the military aviation fuels specification to include bio-derived fuels for aviation for use on all major airframes, Boeing says.

In March 2011, Boeing joined with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland to create the Sustainable Biomass Consortium, a research initiative focused on increasing alignment between voluntary standards and regulatory requirements for biomass used to create jet fuel and bio-energy for other sectors. This consortium aims to harmonize sustainability standards for biomass-based fuels.

In May 2010, the FAA awarded a Boeing-led team a major research-and-development support contract for the Next-Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), an initiative to reduce fuel consumption through satellite-based navigation.

The company is also developing power grid performance and management systems. Boeing Energy – part of Boeing Defense, Space & Security – provides such platforms for military installations. In 2010, the company won a U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop core technologies for the U.S. power grid of the future.

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