Business Operations

Emerson Finds Energy in Sustainability

When Emerson’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer Mike Train talks about his company, his enthusiasm shines through.

  • “What we do to enable our customers is huge,” said Train. “We have an important role to play—and I get a lot of energy out of that.”

An aggressive push: The technology and engineering company, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, has been making big moves in sustainability over the past few years—beginning with a goal in 2018 to reduce some of its greenhouse gas intensity by 20% over 10 years.

  • At the time, the goal was ambitious, and the company wasn’t quite sure how it would achieve it. But employees banded together and pulled it off.
  • “We actually achieved the goal in 2022—six years early,” said Train. “But the act of putting out a goal and not knowing exactly how we’d solve for it … has been driving the culture of our company. Our employees are proud we put it out there, proud to have participated, and it’s activated thousands of people to get excited about what we’re doing.”

An inclusive approach: Since then, the company has applied a range of tactics. From “energy treasure hunts,” in which teams search for energy waste in facilities, to renewable energy procurement and collaborations with supply chain partners, Emerson is finding interesting and inclusive ways to make an impact.

  • The company has gone from getting 3% of its power from renewables to getting to 49% from those sources. And it now has a commitment to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Emerson is setting other big goals, too, from net-zero operations by 2030 to a zero-waste-to-landfill pledge, along with other water and biodiversity actions.

An effective framework: The company has a three-part approach to its sustainability practices.

  • Greening Of Emerson involves the actions Emerson is taking to reduce its own footprint by minimizing waste and engaging its supply chain.
  • Greening By Emerson involves the company’s activities to help a wide range of manufacturing customers improve their own sustainability, often through Emerson’s automation portfolio and expertise. This, according to Train, is where Emerson has its biggest opportunity for impact.
  • Greening With Emerson refers to the company’s work with government and research organizations on policy and innovation, offering technical expertise and manufacturing perspective to help drive action.

A group effort: Train has seen the company coalesce around these goals—from the sustainability team he works with every day (“they bring a lot of energy and passion to what we’re doing”) to the rest of the company’s 74,000-person workforce.

  • “The fun part of sustainability is everyone is learning it together,” Train continued. “You’re allowed and encouraged to borrow ideas from each other, so the collaborative part of sustainability is an awful lot of fun.”
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