Energy-based solutions help tackle challenge of climate change
May 18, 2021

Each year, 3M’s State of Science Index (SOSI) provides an overview of challenges that society is counting on science to help solve. The top priority identified by the 2021 survey, apart from the pandemic, is climate change. There’s a growing sense of urgency for improving the health of our planet and its people, with a significant majority (89%) believing better solutions to mitigate climate change need to be put in place immediately.

Conserving energy is one of the many ways corporations can help mitigate the effects of climate change. In his work as energy manager for 3M in the United States and Canada area (USAC), Andrew Hejnar is an advocate for, and expert in, designing energy management systems that help manufacturing facilities conserve resources.

“Manufacturing facilities like the those that 3M operates are complex, and it can be difficult to manage all of the variables,” said Andrew. “The goal with an energy management process is to equip employees with the knowledge and data that help them consistently drive action.”

A large part of what makes energy efficiency at 3M’s USAC facilities possible are international standards like ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance System, which provide a consistent best practice for designing, implementing, measuring and optimizing an energy management process. Under the leadership of Andrew, 3M Canada became the first Canadian enterprise to be certified to ISO 50001 with Superior Energy Performance at Platinum Level. This certification, combined with other certifications and facility improvements, has delivered a 22% energy intensity improvement for the company and helps lower overall environmental impact. 3M has 45 ISO 50001 certified sites globally and 11 more will be certified by the end of 2021.

“The goal isn’t to just make 3M a more sustainable, energy-efficient organization, but to help others get there too,” said Andrew. “The more companies that sign on to improve their impact on the environment, the better our global community will be.”

Another key advancement being made to address our changing climate is the creation and use of alternative energy sources. Through the SOSI survey in 2021, 38% of respondents identified access to renewable energy sources as a top priority for science to help solve. At 3M, our influence in this space spans from products and technologies we supply globally to clean energy efforts within our operations—which is the focus of Renee Carlson, Global Energy Sourcing Manager at 3M.

In February 2019, CEO Mike Roman announced 3M would transition to 100% renewable energy across its global footprint by 2050 and committed to increasing the interim target for energy sourced from renewables from 25% to 50% by 2025. As of the start of May 2021, more than 41% of 3M’s total electricity use is renewable.

“3M is currently on track to exceed our 2025 commitment of 50% renewable electricity by the end of 2021,” said Renee. “To advance our progress and hit this target early, we are partnering with our largest locations, regions and electric suppliers to directly source electricity from new and existing renewable sources.”

Examples of recent progress toward our goal include, at the start of 2021, 3M Canada’s head office in London, Ontario, becoming powered by 100% electricity sourced from renewables and all 3M locations in Poland securing Guaranteed Origin certificates to qualify their electric usage as renewable. 3M has invested in numerous direct and on-site clean energy sources. For example, our global headquarters continues to be 100% powered by renewable electricity from two large windfarms in Pipestone, Minnesota. 3M has also installed solar panels at manufacturing facilities in California, Singapore and Mexico. The installation in California provides approximately 20% of the electrical power required by the plant, in Singapore it contributes approximately 8.5% of total electricity for this location, and in Mexico the installations power approximately 20% of local operations. One of the biggest forthcoming transitions to renewable energy will take place at 3M’s facility in Brownwood, Texas. Through collaborative work with our local supplier, 3M Brownwood will be 100% powered by a new solar array.

To encourage and aid others in the shift to renewables, 3M is an active member of RE100, a global leadership initiative that brings together companies committed to achieving 100% renewable power by 2050, as well as a board member for the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders advocating for enhanced energy productivity to achieve economic growth, a cleaner environment and greater energy security, affordability and reliability.

As a company with operations in about 70 countries, improvements to our operations and collaborative efforts with others can help drive positive environmental impact around the world. Through the dedication and work of 3Mers like Andrew and Renee, who are passionate about improving our environmental footprint and advancing our goal of using 100% renewable energy, 3M can help drive progress on the pressing challenge of climate change.

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