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  • A Winning Approach to Sustainability

Wind generator farm

Anyone can recommend sustainability measures, but Schneider Electric can actually implement them successfully. It’s not enough to simply understand the theory, you need to know how to take measurable, effective action.

Regardless of where a company, brand, or business is in its sustainability journey, Schneider Electric has the expertise required to execute a successful sustainability project. We have a process that combines Strategy, Technology & Reporting, and Implementation, but it’s not one size fits all. Rather, we craft the right sustainability solution for the customer that can help accelerate their intention into activity and amplify that activity into meaningful performance.

For clients in the early stages of developing a sustainability strategy, we work to bring together the right people in their organization to ask, and answer, the right questions:

  1. How do we level-set who we want to be as an organization?
  2. What does sustainability mean to our organization?
  3. What are our customers, shareholders, NGOs, employees, and other stakeholders asking of us as an organization?
  4. Where should we focus our sustainability efforts — on water, waste, energy, or supply chain?
  5. What is our appetite for sustainability? Do we want to be an industry leader, a fast follower, or take a more cautious approach?

Based on answers to these questions, we develop a strategic roadmap that establishes the appropriate governance mechanism (who in the organization is responsible for the initiative? what working groups need to be established?), key performance measures to track (for a restaurant chain it might be total gallons of water per guest count; for a manufacturer it could be total greenhouse gas emissions per pound of product shipped), and the greening initiatives that will be put in place.

This is all done within the guiding context of business performance. Today, there is a large, growing appetite among customers to set sustainability targets that are relevant, achievable, and connected to their businesses. In the past, companies might arbitrarily select reduction targets. But more and more now, clients are asking us to look closely, from the shop floor to the top floor, for savings opportunities, aggregating those findings to project future savings. In one instance, a multi-national recently set a very precise reduction target — 28% — based on a calculation that considered the company’s carbon footprint, market share, and current climate science. With that target firmly in place, our job now is to make that decision manageable.

And that’s where Schneider Electric excels. Any management consulting group or environmental consulting firm can make sustainability recommendations, but we take the extra value-added step of successfully implementing them, drawing on the breadth and depth of our in-house expertise, which is constantly informed and honed by our successes across industries. For example, we not only develop solar, micro-grid, and energy management solutions, but we are also steeped in energy market dynamics. In other words, we not only deliver renewables and energy efficiency solutions, but we can ensure that the energy our clients purchase is clean, responsibly sourced, and priced right. We are adept at both planning and execution.

Which gets to a fundamental truth about Schneider Electric – we’re pragmatic to the core. While we can and do speak to the messaging and marketing dimensions of sustainability, at the end of the day our customers want to know how to move the needle on their performance. So whether it’s our products out in customer facilities helping reduce energy consumption, or whether it’s our engineers getting their boots wet and muddy to measure water and wastewater flows at plants across the globe, we’re helping our clients find actionable solutions that tie back to their businesses. No other company covers the comprehensive requirements of sustainability the way we do. That is our differentiator. That is how we engage.

Case Study: Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Our work with the global Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) centers on understanding the supply chain impacts of the apparel we all wear — the shirts on our backs, the shoes on our feet — across a network of industry participants that now covers more than 3,000 facilities, suppliers, and vendor groups. Our consulting and technology engagement with the coalition has resulted in the creation of a scalable, reliable, and secure information platform that provides the group “radical transparency” into the environmental impacts and risks of an array of variables, from energy use to water scarcity, running the gamut of supply chain sustainability impacts.

The resulting technology platform enables some of the world’s largest apparel and retail brands to see, connect with, and share information safely and securely with their supply chains all the way down to individual sewing, cutting, and assembly factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China Think of the platform as a LinkedIn for the apparel supply chain, where brands, manufacturers, and distributors can make connections, share data, and be able to report out on performance going forward.

Case Study: Global Retailer

Schneider Electric is an innovator in sustainability software, and our work for a name-brand retailer highlights how our software delivers Big Data insights that drive sustainability success.

When a major retailer with thousands of locations across the U.S. wanted to approach setting their next generation of sustainability goals, they turned to Schneider Electric.

In order to arrive at that these goals, we needed to help them crunch the numbers.

This was no mean feat, but our Resource Advisor platform was already on the task, monitoring, collecting, and analyzing electricity and natural gas consumption data across the company’s footprint of stores, distribution centers, and data centers — down to the minute.

As a result of slicing and dicing this energy consumption data, we were able to help our client identify the U.S. markets where sourcing renewable power would be most advantageous; which store designs were most efficient on a kilowatt hour or dekatherm per square footage basis; and begin to identify and scale the best practices of their most efficient stores across their portfolio, while taking measures to boost the bottom 10%.

At Schneider Electric, we are seeing more and more companies apply a Big Data lens to drive sustainability investments. We’re experiencing it among commercial clients (retail, restaurants, banking), and also among industrials. For example, an automotive manufacturer with similar plants around the globe, “sister” plants that manufacture the same product, wanted to know the energy, water and waste impacts on a per 50lb car seat produced in Brazil vs. Germany vs. the U.S., and how to start closing the gaps, recognizing leaders and laggards within its portfolio, and marrying that data with efficiency investments.

Such analysis was once the province of the spreadsheet. Today, advanced sustainability solutions are at the heart of tackling strategic business problems and driving profitability and performance.

Today, sustainability is less a buzzword and more a successful business mantra for the new millennia.