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Sustainability is not one big swing, it is a battle waged every day

Scott Tew,Director, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES) at Ingersoll Rand, talks to Sustainability Outlook about Ingersoll Rand’s sustainability agenda, the initiatives undertaken by their Indian operations on this front and the role employee can play in shaping a sustainability focused organization

Which are some of the areas/issues related to environmental sustainability in which Ingersoll Rand offers products and solutions globally?
For over 100 years, Ingersoll Rand has developed the technologies and engineered the solutions to support the primary growth industries of the day. Whether these have included mining, road and bridge construction or building development, Ingersoll Rand has been integral in enabling global development and improving the quality of life. Today, both emerging and mature economies are faced with increased challenges in meeting the needs of the planet’s seven billion inhabitants while understanding the impact our activity has on energy, water and air. 

Ingersoll Rand creates and sustains safe, comfortable and efficient environments for our customers. Our advanced technology includes HVAC systems, controls and services that make buildings more efficient, comfortable while saving our customers’ money. We provide transport refrigeration that ensures food is delivered from the farm to the market without getting spoilt.  We are the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, and we provide hardware and systems that help protect and secure the “envelop” of buildings. We also offer energy efficient industrial technologies that enhance productivity and help our customers plug energy losses.

What was the motivation behind setting up the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES)? What are some of the focus areas of work for the centre?
Ingersoll Rand created the CEES in 2010 as a catalyst to incorporate and accelerate the adoption of sustainable best practices into the daily operations of the company. Like many large, multi-national companies, Ingersoll Rand has a matrix structure. Our Chairman and CEO, Mike Lamach, strongly believes that it is important to have a dedicated team in place to be the champions and focal point for sustainability. Specifically, we concentrate on product innovation, education and engagement, operations and supply chain and advocacy. As one example, our CEES Innovation team is helping our business better understand the impact of our products through benchmarking, and product Life Cycle Analysis. Having a dedicated team in place ensures consistency, accountability, and provides a focus among disparate groups within the company.

Can you provide a brief overview of Ingersoll Rand’s work in India? Which are the areas/sectors/industries that you are focusing on in India?
Ingersoll Rand has a long and rich history of association with India. The company is committed to India and is implementing strategies for product innovation and design for Industrial Technologies; Security; Food Safety; Energy Efficiency and Sustainability.

India’s rapidly growing infrastructure  will require new ways of designing, constructing and operating buildings. The Indian economy has witnessed considerable progress in the past few decades. With the present emphasis on creating physical infrastructure, massive investment is planned in this sector. During the 11th Five Year plan period, Planning Commission estimated the investment requirement in infrastructure to be about US$320 billion*.

We have a strong presence in the commercial building industry through our climate and security systems. Specific market segments include hotels/commercial properties, technology and office space as well as government buildings. 

Additionally, because each region has unique challenges and market drivers, we are continuously exploring the needs of our local customers to deliver customized solutions. Ingersoll Rand believes that Sustainable Innovation for emerging economies is critical for products to succeed in these markets.  In line with this thinking, Ingersoll Rand recently launched a refrigerated transportation solution that addresses the problem of wastage of perishable farm produce. According to industry estimates, India wastes upwards of 25% of its agricultural produce due to the absence of an effective cold chain infrastructure.

Ingersoll Rand's Thermo King I 100 truck refrigeration units can be fitted in a container which can be modelled on a small reefer truck, to enable commute through narrow lanes for last mile delivery of temperature controlled and refrigerated products. This is a particularly effective choice for food transportation, specifically for the hot weather conditions of India.
The I 100, with its battery operated unit is an ideal innovation for India where small trucks typically run on low horse power engines and do not have the capacity to run a compressor directly. The I 100 is a battery driven innovation which is powered by the vehicle's engine. This unique technology is a great fuel saver and the first solution of its kind in the country.
In fact, there's more to Ingersoll Rand than just this innovation. We offer end-to-end cold chain solutions for the Indian market in the form of reefer trucks, small refrigerated transport vehicles, cold storage, process cooling, ripening solutions and consultancy services. (* Sources : Public information published by Construction Industry Development Council, Planning Commission of India, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation)

Who are some of the industry partners that Ingersoll Rand works with in India?
We are involved with organizations that are making a difference in the world such as government agencies and research laboratories, , Energy Service Company (ESCO) organizations,  the Clinton Climate Initiative, TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), Indian Green Building Council, BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency), among others. Ingersoll Rand is also a founding member of the Energy Co-operation Program between the US and Indian Governments, that was set up after an MOU was signed between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh, during the President’s last visit to India.

Can you highlight some of the latest/major sustainability related projects that you are doing in India?
Ingersoll Rand, through our Trane brands, has partnered with RMZ Corporation, India’s leading corporate real estate developer for the RMZ Millenia project. It is one of the largest USGBC LEED Gold-certified buildings in India.  With a built-up area of 2.2 million square feet spread across 22 acres, RMZ Millenia consumes 10 % less energy than conventional office buildings. 

The commitment to energy efficiency is evident in all aspects of the RMZ Millenia building, from rain water harvesting, eco-friendly products and equipment used throughout, to site ecology, open areas with greenery to minimize the heat island effect and the re-use of soil within the building site. The HVAC system design also contributes to the building’s sustainability efforts. Trane recommended installing a Trane Tracer Summit™ building automation system and variable air volume (VAV) terminals to provide precise, individualized BTU metering, zone temperature control and utility integration that building tenants need. Trane installed the Tracer Summit System electrical work and provided all software, technical support, start up services and warranty, plus a maintenance contract.

In another project, Trane has partnered with Godrej, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates, on the LEED certification for the Godrej Bhavan project in Mumbai. This building recently received LEED Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) under the Existing Buildings category (version 2). The relatively inefficient DX system was replaced with energy efficient water-cooled screw chillers. To provide the desired comfort conditions on each floor, it was necessary to install AHUs at every level. However, there was no place to locate them. The issue was resolved by installing I-beams in the masonry shaft and then fixing horizontal metal plates to create artificial floors. Once this was achieved, the new AHUs were installed at each level. Retrofitting of the systems was carried out during non-working hours so as not to inconvenience the occupants whilst they went about their work. To ensure continuity of cooling, both systems (old and new) were operated simultaneously during the change-over stage. To ensure that the new air-conditioning system delivered efficiency, reliability and serviceability, a Trane Tracer Summit building automation system was also installed. In addition, an annual maintenance contract with Trane now ensures smooth and uninterrupted operation of all HVAC systems.

In addition, as a regular practice, our employees volunteer to improve their communities and the environment.  In recent times, we undertook a relief and rehabilitation program by building 100 permanent houses for the flood affected communities in Karwar, Karnataka.

Also in 2011, we introduced the concept of ‘Social Convergence’. Through this initiative, our efforts are to bring together corporate organizations, government bodies and the larger public to take collaborative action towards environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. As part of our ‘Social Convergence’ program, we are working in the areas of Environmental Preservation (waste management, water, energy conservation and preservation of lakes) through a Public–Private Partnership (PPP) approach.  

Does the company have any India specific sustainability related targets (for energy/water/waste usage) for 2011-12? How much has been achieved so far?
Like many companies that endeavor to incorporate sustainability into their operations, we have global targets for our operations that apply to India as well. To date, we are well on our way in meeting our 10-year goal of reducing energy by 25 percent across our enterprise. In addition, every region has individual targets for energy usage, and environmental health and safety including reduction of energy used. Additional metrics include reduction of GHG emissions and reduction of nonhazardous/hazardous waste.

However, operational metrics are only part of the sustainability equation. 2011 has seen the development and refinement of new metrics based on our product portfolio and the way we engage our engineers and employee population. This includes formal metrics around the sales of energy-efficient products and putting standards in place that will allow us to quantify the overall impact of our technologies on customers operations in terms of saving energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal is to lead in environmentally efficient design. To drive this culture in our engineering teams, we are tracking the percent revenue of products covered by Life Cycle Analyses and the number of products evaluated using a unique Product-level Sustainability Index

What do you think are some of the challenges faced by executives trying to implement sustainability related initiatives (especially in energy efficiency) in their organisations?
Many companies are struggling with developing effective performance related compensation policies in the areas of sustainability.  Increasingly these activities are being driven by top leaders, and are recognized as important by most employees; it is important to appropriately align compensation and rewards with an environmental or social performance goal. This will help encourage every employee to think about sustainability factors in their everyday work. This will drive true change in the company. It’s about creating a culture of sustainability and a performance goal, aligned with the proper compensation, is a good way to achieve that transformation.

Next, many companies must aggressively look at their supply chain and establish performance standards for suppliers. A significant portion of Ingersoll Rand’s environmental impact is embedded in our supply chain. By understanding how our best, and worst, suppliers are performing in the area of sustainability we can both eliminate those that create risk for the company, and collaborate with those that are best in class. Understanding and reporting scope 3 emissions will only grow in importance, and a good supply chain program will help us drive fundamental change in environmental performance.

One of the greatest challenges is to rethink how companies can embed sustainability as a filter in their new product development and innovation processes. For the majority of our products, the biggest area of impact is in the use phase of the product’s life cycle, and maximizing energy efficiency of products is a key area of focus for us.  Identifying the other areas of impact so that we can improve our operational and supply chain efficiency is a key area of focus for us over the next twelve months.  We currently have a robust program around identification of the key criteria that make a product environmentally superior. We are now taking those criteria and embedding them in the innovation and new product development processes. The intent is to ensure that life cycle impacts are considered up front, and tradeoffs are identified.
Are there any workforce related skill gaps that you see in implementing environmental sustainability measures in companies?
Traditionally, the focus of our engineers has been to develop and design products that provide maximum efficiency and performance for customers during the “use phase” of the product’s life – i.e. when the product is installed and running. Increasingly, we are developing training that will help our engineers more holistically “design green” and understand the impact from sourcing of the original raw materials all the way to the final disposal and / or recycling of the product. This is a new area for many in the industry, but one we know is of interest to our customers.

In addition, because sustainability is increasingly a requirement in purchase decision making, especially for large organizations or governments, our sales teams and dealers will be tasked with better understanding and articulating the benefits inherent in greener products and using it as a differentiator.   

Does the company conduct employee training and awareness programmes to ensure employee environmental stewardship? If yes, what are the core focus areas of these programmes?
The CEES, that I mentioned earlier, has several engagement programs focused on our employees. One is a newly launched behavior-based sustainability program that we call One STEP Forward. Through this initiative, individual employees are selected as sustainability “champions” and are given the tools and training to rally those at the local level to behave more sustainably. From the smallest activities like recycling to larger energy “treasure hunts”, these teams are tasked with reduction of waste and increasing efficiency at the local office/manufacturing level.  

Our India-based business conducts a number of employee awareness programs to cultivate a culture of environmental stewardship within the organization. To save the dying lakes of Bangalore, Ingersoll Rand India is partnering with United Way for conservation of Lakes. A very recent example is the adoption of the Uttarahalli Lake in Bangalore for preservation and maintenance. We are also piloting a ‘sustainable habitat’ program in India this year, which will be replicated across other regions in future.

Ingersoll Rand was selected in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and North America Index for the first time this year – What are your thoughts on this?
The biggest challenge for companies integrating sustainability often lies in the hurdles posed by changing the culture and the employees’ perception. For us, receiving awards and appearing on indexes like DJSI provides an important emotional lift for our company and helps validate our efforts.

However, ranking on the DJSI, as well as other indexes, is not a goal onto itself. Rather, we use the results of the DJSI as an important barometer to benchmark our performance against peers, identify areas of weakness, and to refer to when setting strategy and making decisions. While the recognition is important, it is even more important that we continue to strive for continuous improvement and achieving best in class performance. 

Given that sustainability is a trending field in India, what kind of strategies do you think companies should adopt when they begin their sustainability journey?
Start by getting the right team in place. In order to truly make sustainability part of the culture you must be connected to every facet of the company; the right team can make this happen.  Someone, or a single team, must be accountable to drive significant progress.  Then define what is most material to your organization and view it through the sustainability lens. This will help you focus and set priorities. Then you can use these priorities to set metrics that are meaningful to the work of every employee.

For the best in class companies, it may seem obvious and academic that sustainability offers a path for business growth by uncovering new innovation opportunities while eliminating waste, energy costs and operational inefficiencies. The truth of the matter is that it is not that simple. There is no one “big swing” that will solve any company’s sustainability issues. It is a battle waged every day.

Therefore, companies must focus much of their effort on changing the behavior of their people. Success can only come when employees, across the layers of the organization, are passionate, educated and engaged in making sustainability happen at an individual level. Small wins – such as the purchasing manager who identifies a new “green vendor”, or manufacturing employee that uncovers a small energy savings – that leads to big results over time.  Creating a culture of sustainability in a company can be the most difficult, but is certainly the most effective way to achieve sustainable success.

This interview was conducted by Pramita Sen, a member of the Sustainability Outlook editorial team.

Images(s) Courtesy:
Ingersoll Rand
Development Crossing



Author: Pramita Sen