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Symantec Nearly Doubles LEED Facilities

In FY11, Symantec nearly doubled its number of LEED-certified buildings from nine to 16, including an enterprise data center, according to the company’s 2011 Corporate Responsibility report.

The security software company, perhaps best known for the Norton antivirus line, said it also now has ten Energy Star buildings, including an enterprise data center that now has the highest score of all Symantec’s Energy Star facilities, with 99 out of 100 points. Buildings that earn EPA’s Energy Star use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.

In the report, Symantec said that green building standards and data center efficiency are one of its major methods of tackling GHG emissions. The others are:

  • Developing software and services to optimize the efficiency of data center operations for both Symantec and its customers.
  • Participating in energy and climate-related public policy efforts around the world to help protect the environment, encourage renewable energy production, and create green jobs in the technology sector.

But the company says that the changes in its business model over the past several years have created challenges to minimizing GHG emissions, and the company’s total absolute emissions rose three percent over FY10. “As our products and services transition to more data center-intensive offerings (including increased storage of customer data and the provision of cloud computing), our electricity consumption and GHG emissions have and will likely continue to rise,” the report said.

From FY10 to FY11, Symantec’s scope 1 emissions fell from 8 to 7 metric tons of CO2e, while scope 2 rose from 152 to 155 metric tons, and scope 3 rose from 43 to 48 metric tons. Energy consumption followed the same pattern, with scope 1 down and scopes 2 and 3 up over the year.

The company says it is evaluating new approaches to reducing energy use and emissions, as well as to setting realistic and achievable reduction goals. It is undertaking scenario planning to evaluate the feasibility (both technical and financial) of various initiatives and goals. It is also considering splitting out future goals into sub-goals reflecting energy use and GHG emissions related to office buildings vs. data centers and labs.

But the company says it has also steadily been improving its ability to track and measure energy use and GHG emissions. In FY08, it tracked energy use and emissions for owned and long-leased facilities only—a total of 63 locations in 14 countries. In contrast, in FY11, it tracked 338 facilities in 49 countries. During the year, Symantec installed energy sub-metering in its labs and data centers, and has been tracking the resulting data over the past year.

Symantec does not receive direct utility information for the additional 275 facilities in its portfolio. Instead, it estimates performance at these sites, accounting for 15 percent of Scope 2 and two percent of Scope 1 GHG emissions. It also now tracks rental car emissions under Scope 3.

Throughout FY11, Symantec completed the consolidation of four IT and business-unit managed data centers. The scope of work ranged from entire site closures to partial consolidations. It started consolidating six more locations in FY11, to be completed in FY12 and FY13.

The report outlined several packaging reduction initiatives. In the EMEA region, Symantec has increased the density of units shipped per pallet, consolidated orders and assigned specific collection days to maximize shipping efficiencies and transitioned to recycled-paper manuals for all new product releases. It has also changed box sizes for several products in 24 countries, resulting in savings of 102,270 kg of paper and 44,737 kg of wood along with overall reductions in the carbon footprint of its packaging.

In the Americas, Symantec adopted a DVD case that uses 20 percent less plastic than the standard, and in Asia-Pacific and Japan, it replaced most plastic DVD packaging with all-paper DVD sleeves.

The company encourages customers to download purchased software directly onto their computers rather than buying boxed products. In FY11 the percentage of products sold through electronic download held steady at 65 percent.

But the report did not provide overall data for packaging increases or decreases.

During the year the company conducted waste audits and developed both local and global strategies to reduce waste output. After an audit at its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Symantec said it is considering a number of methods for reducing and diverting the HQ’s waste, including vermiculture, onsite composting, dehydration practices, biodegradable products, restroom electric hand dryers to reduce usage of restroom paper towels, and onsite waste to energy generation systems.

In FY12, it will be rolling out a waste reduction pilot at Mountain View including signage, education, new waste diversion tactics and new policies and procedures that affect the janitorial, landscaping, product purchasing, café, and facilities contracts.

In FY11 Symantec also adopted a Global Supply Chain Manufacturing and Fulfillment Code of Conduct, which requires suppliers to be ISO14001-certified and in compliance with all applicable environmental regulatory requirements. In FY12, the code will be added to all Symantec Tier 1 supply chain supplier contracts, and Symantec will begin to conduct supplier audits that will include environmental considerations.

The company counts advocacy as a major plank of its sustainability program and notes that as a member of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, it opposed a Congressional resolution to block the EPA from regulating GHG emissions.

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