Pfizer Cuts GHGs 20%, Employees Follow Suit

Fellow: Jason Sekhon, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Pfizer Inc., MBA/MS candidate at University of Michigan Erb Institute

Organization: Pfizer Inc.

Opportunity: Over 100,000 employees at the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company
Summary: Pfizer is already well on its way to company-wide sustainability, and I'm glad to be contributing by writing employee engagement plan and EnergyStar strategies.

Pfizer: it’s a household name.  With over 100,000 employees, this massive corporation is world renowned for products from Advil to Viagra. But did you know that Pfizer just reduced its GHG emissions by 20% in only four years?

Yeah, neither did I.

When I joined EDF Climate Corps and learned that I would be working with Pfizer, I was ecstatic.  Armed with my newfound energy efficiency knowledge (courtesy of Climate Corps training), I could not wait to get started.  With a company this large, I thought it would be trivial to find millions of dollars worth of savings in no time. When I arrived, I learned how naïve I had been.

I was absolutely blown away by how much progress had already been made in energy efficiency.  Pfizer’s Energy and Climate Change (ECC) team, the group with which I would be working, had existed for nearly a decade and has a hand in everything from public reporting of emissions to bi-annual energy assessments for each of Pfizer’s nearly 100 sites.

My office was located in scenic Peapack, NJ, home to most of the ECC team. (Also just down the road from the US Olympic Equestrian team’s headquarters.)  In my first week on site, I learned just how essential sustainability and energy efficiency are to the facilities’ cultures.  Honestly, I spent the first month with Pfizer just asking questions and absorbing as much information as possible.

Although my original focus was siting energy assessments and more traditional energy efficiency projects, I noticed two key trends.

First, employees (known as "colleagues" at Pfizer) that have significant control over emissions-producing operations have a “lean” mentality toward energy.  The creed with these colleagues – building managers and manufacturing supervisors, for example – is "reduce energy consumption, and the emissions reduction will follow."

Though energy efficiency is ingrained in the culture of these colleagues, however, it isn't ingrained in the culture of Pfizer colleagues at large, presenting an energy efficiency opportunity through employee engagement.

Second, few people – colleague or non – were aware of the great strides Pfizer is taking toward reducing its environmental impact.

With these trends in mind, I focused on a project originally suggested by a colleague located in Pfizer’s Madison, NJ office – achieving ENERGY STAR certification at the Madison office.

ENERGY STAR is a credential only awarded to the most energy efficient buildings in the nation., and earning it at Pfizer's Madison office is now part of a campaign to engage all Pfizer colleagues in sustainability, not just those focused on site operations. We are coordinating this certification with a scheduled announcement of Pfizer’s recent 20% GHG reduction goals, as well as internal sustainability education, such as the recent information sessions on reducing travel through carpooling, "vanpooling" and videoconferencing Pfizer put on for its colleagues.

With these engagement tools, we can promote internal investment in the company's environmental accomplishments, further reducing our GHG emissions. This is not just a talking point.  Pfizer is seriously committed to reducing ingraining sustainability into its culture. With over 100,000 staff, this is a tremendous undertaking, but Pfizer is off to a great start.