Editor's note: Matt Gardner, PhD., is Managing Partner for Sustainserv Inc.
Six Massachusetts companies ranging from a global defense-electronics giant to a western Massachusetts food bank have been named winners of the second annual Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Sustainability Award. The award recognizes excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being and contributions to economic prosperity.
AIM announced today that Raytheon Company of Waltham, Bradford & Bigelow of Newburyport, Abbott-Action of Attleboro, AIS of Leominster, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield, and Interprint Inc. of Pittsfield were selected from among several dozen nominations. The six companies will be honored at a series of regional celebrations throughout Massachusetts during September and October.
“These companies set the standard for sustainably managing their financial, social and environmental resources in a manner that ensures responsible, long-term success,” said AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord.
“Sustainability guarantees that the success of employers benefits our communities, our commonwealth and our fellow citizens. We congratulate our honorees and all the worthy companies that were nominated.”
Sustainability has gained widespread acceptance in recent years as global corporations such as Wal-Mart, General Electric and IBM make it part of their business and financial models.
The six honorees were selected by a committee that included the chair of AIM’s Sustainability Roundtable ,Johanna Jobin, Director of Global EHS and Sustainability at Biogen; Wayne Bates PhD., PE, Principal Engineer for Tighe & Bond, Inc.; Cristina Mendoza, Environmental Scientist for Capaccio Environmental; and myself.
AIM initiated the Sustainability Roundtable in 2011 to provide employers the opportunity to exchange sustainability best practices and hear from experts in the field. That opportunity has attracted dozens of participants from companies such as Bose, Siemens, Coca-Cola, Boston Beer, MilliporeSigma, Ocean Spray, Analogic and Cisco.
Here are summaries of each recipient, along with the date and location of the celebration when each will receive the award.
Food Bank of Western Massachusetts | September 28 | Wood Museum of Springfield History
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts launched an initiative recently to address the problem of food insecurity.
Regional food banks, while performing important services to people in need, mostly rely on people taking the initiative to ask for help. For many people, however, this is a difficult admission to make and many people and families don’t end up getting the help they need.
The team at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts partnered with the Holyoke Health Center to develop a screening process through which people who visited the center for health-related services could be identified as being “food insecure” and referred to the Food Bank for assistance.
The result - people who might have slipped through the cracks now have a chance to get the help they need.
AIS | October 5, Mechanics Hall, Worcester | 4:30-6:30 pm
AIS, a leading office furniture manufacturer in the commonwealth, is also a sustainable manufacturer.
Sustainability is a multi-faceted undertaking that requires knowledge and commitment across the organization and leadership from the top. AIS has shown this commitment.
From deploying a state-of-the-art solar energy system that produces half of their local energy needs, to being smart and strategic about the size and location of facilities, to using the principles of LEAN manufacturing, AIS has shown the holistic thinking required to be a leader in sustainability.
Business benefits have followed. The company has reduced energy usage by 40 percent, saved more than $1.6 million dollars, all supporting a goal of 100 percent on-time delivery of products.
Raytheon Company | October 12 | The Riverwalk, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 pm
Raytheon, one of the most prominent high-technology electronics companies in the world and a key member of the Massachusetts business community, has long championed sustainability as an important part of how it does business.
The company integrates sustainability into every aspect of its business. Starting with a structured and strategic process to identify priorities, Raytheon employs best practices in designing, launching and maintaining comprehensive, organization-wide sustainability programs.
It’s a challenging commitment for a company that maintains more than four million square feet of office, manufacturing and R&D space in Massachusetts. But the company is making significant progress toward its 2020 goals.
Raytheon has implemented programs focused on zero-waste generation, energy and water management, and a “smart campus” program to upgrade energy management systems at its Massachusetts sites. And much of the progress has come in the form of low-cost or no-cost opportunities.
Bradford and Bigelow | October 12 | The Riverwalk, Lawrence | 4:30-6:30 pm
Newburyport-based specialty printer Bradford and Bigelow faced a significant challenge in making its products less environmentally harmful and more sustainable. High-end printing typically relies on the heavy use of solvents and other noxious chemicals.
But the company moved forward and became an industry pioneer in the use of higher-quality UV inks with the goal of eliminating toxic emissions of volatile organic compounds and greatly reducing energy consumption. The company also extended its environmental commitment to the inkjet side with low-energy dye-based inks. Customers constantly remark that the facility is one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly in the industry.
Being more sustainable is not just a technical issue – employee engagement and a willingness to take chances are elements of many successful sustainability programs. And when done right, the results show benefits across all aspects of the business.
Abbott-Action | October 19 | CBS Scene, Foxboro | 4:30-6:30 pm
Sometimes sustainability initiatives require a fundamental rethinking of business processes. That was the case at Abbott-Action, a manufacturer of containers, packaging and displays, where the company recognized the need to handle the waste stream from their processes in a completely different manner.
Most of Abbot-Action’s peer companies use large electric motors to power fans and blowers that suck scrap material through ductwork at speeds of 40 mph. The scrap is then collected in a compactor and compressed into bales of waste to be recycled at a paper mill. Dust is typically captured by secondary filtration systems, which use tremendous amounts of compressed air and are costly.
Abbott-Action made the decision to invest into a Trench Scrap Removal System. This sustainable scrap- removal process operates a straight-line conveyer that is built in a trench located below the manufacturing floor. The discarded material simply falls onto the conveyer that transports the scrap to a compactor, which creates bales of scrap ready to be transported to a recycling mill. No blowers, fans or expensive electric motors.
The company realized electricity savings of as much as 90 percent compared to the conventional approach. Maintenance costs were 50 percent lower. And Abbot-Action is saving 30 percent on heating costs because there is no transfer of conditioned air out of the building.
Interprint | October 26 | Hotel on North, Pittsfield | 4:30-6:30 pm
Sustainability has long been a core principle for Interprint, a German company that is both a global leader in key employer in décor design and printing, and a key employer in Pittsfield.
Interprint’s commitment to sustainability is far reaching:
The company uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified material in many of its products. It monitors and controls the quality of its wastewater streams. It maintains an energy management system according to ISO50001, the gold standard for Energy Management systems. And its environmental management system is based on the principles of Life Cycle Impacts, where the company takes care to understand the impacts not just of its own operations but of the raw materials it uses and the products at the end of their useful lifespan.
Sustainability also played a major role in Interprint’s recently expanded facility in Pittsfield. The company deployed solar systems that will produce as much as 20 percent of its energy needs, and converted to highly efficient natural gas-powered equipment. Lighting is now LED-based, saving more than 500,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.