Saving Energy, Protecting the Planet
Minimizing our operational carbon footprint
Minimizing our operational carbon footprint
The science is clear: our planet is warming at an alarming rate with grave and global consequences, requiring bold action, transparency, and accountability. To address the climate crisis, Medtronic has moved beyond words to action, striving to become carbon neutral by 2030. Achieving net zero carbon emissions from our global operations is no easy feat, but the environmental benefits justify the effort.
Caring for our planet makes good business sense, meets the expectations of our employees, and is the right thing to do. By embracing sustainability, companies create healthier workplaces, plan thoughtful development, improve risk management, and save costs. Over the past seven years, we’ve cut operational carbon emissions by 36% and aim to reduce them by 50% or more by 2025. We will use tools like virtual power purchase agreements to buy long-term supplies of clean energy to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s essential that we do our part to fight climate change and make sure we’re a part of the solution.”
— Anita Tuch, Vice President, Global Operational Risk Management at Medtronic
One of the most powerful ways we combat climate change is by increasing the use of clean energy, either by producing our own energy or buying from local power providers. Fuel cell technology now generates cleaner energy at several of our facilities. By converting natural gas fuel and air into electrical energy without combustion, fuel cells are cleaner than traditional gas or diesel engines. We have increased renewable energy use by more than 10% over the past decade. Going forward, we plan on increasing our investments in hydroelectricity, solar, wind, and geothermal energy whenever possible. One way we will do this is by purchasing renewable energy certificates (REC’s), which are market instruments guaranteeing clean energy has been generated on our behalf and sent to the electrical grid.
Likewise, leading sustainably also means building green. The U.S. Green Buildings Council recently awarded our manufacturing facility in Alajuela, Costa Rica a LEED operations and maintenance (O+M) platinum certification - a globally recognized symbol in sustainability achievement. The facility is the first Latin American manufacturing site to earn the prestigious LEED certification, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power, merges the production of usable heat and electricity into a single process that can substantially reduce carbon emissions and energy costs. Recently, a new co-generation unit was installed at our Mirandola, Italy facility. Once fully operational, the new unit will produce about 7.5 million kilowatt hours per year, reducing the facility’s reliance on the local power grid.
We recently installed two fuel cells at our North Haven, Connecticut facility, where we manufacture surgical equipment. Once fully operational, the fuel cells will produce a combined 4 megawatts (MW), meeting about 80 percent of the facility’s energy needs. We expect to save $2.3 million per year and reduce carbon emissions by 4,000 metric tons per year when compared to buying energy from the local grid. “Fuel cells will supply a steady source of energy for our facility,” said Chris Sirois, facility director. “From an operational standpoint, the efficiency we expect to gain with these two units is significant.”
Despite setbacks resulting from Hurricane Maria, an earthquake, and the COVID-19 pandemic, Medtronic completed construction of a new solar plant at the Juncos, Puerto Rico manufacturing facility. “It has been a roller coaster ride, for sure,” said David Alemar Olivera, the facility manager. “But my team never lost focus and worked through some very difficult circumstances. We understand the importance of this project and what it means for our company, Puerto Rico, and its people.” The 5 MW plant produces clean energy for the Juncos facility and sends surplus power back to the local grid for community use.
Using energy efficiently is one of the cleanest, quickest, and most cost-effective ways to extend today's energy supply. Within the medical device industry, manufacturing facilities typically use the most energy. To minimize energy consumption, we make sure our manufacturing facility equipment runs efficiently. For example, we are replacing older, less efficient lights at commercial and manufacturing facilities with energy efficient LED lights. So far, we’ve replaced more than 150,000 bulbs across 26 global sites and saved more than $3 million annually.
At Medtronic, we understand that health is directly tied to the environment. By reducing our carbon footprint, we are investing in the health of our company, our people, and our planet.