On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and in the spirit of this year’s theme of Climate Action, we wanted to share some of the actions we’ve taken at Vertex to responsibly manage our environmental impact as well as the ambitious target we’ve set for the future. While we celebrate our commitment to the environment each year on April 22, the concepts behind the day — including sustainability, renewable energy and waste reduction — have become a way of life at Vertex.
New Global Carbon Reduction Target at Vertex
In 2015 we committed to a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, over a 2014 baseline. We’re pleased that we exceeded this goal, achieving a 39% global carbon reduction in 2019. Now we’ve set the bar higher and established a new global reduction target — to reduce by another 20% by 2023 from a 2019 baseline.
An aligned global sustainability program guides our efforts. Each Vertex site also identifies local priorities regarding sustainability. Read on to learn more about some of our sustainability initiatives at our research sites in Boston, San Diego and Oxford, England.
In Boston, we’re focusing on reducing energy use and waste in our buildings and incorporating industry standards of sustainability into future projects. By pairing occupancy data with a building automation system, we’ve been able to reduce energy usage in our buildings by 20-25%.
Single use products like gowns and gloves are necessary in our lab research. In 2019, we recycled more than 2,000 pounds of these materials and, working with key suppliers, turned them into materials like plastic lumber that is used to make landscaping materials and park benches.
We’re also proud to participate in community initiatives — such as the Mayor’s Carbon Cup, which is part of the city of Boston’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Vertex also is co-chair of the Transportation Management Association (TMA), a nonprofit organization of employers, developers and property managers addressing transportation, air quality and commuter issues in the city. In 2019, we offered a new 100-seat public ferry that removed approximately 12 corporate shuttles from the busy downtown area during peak hours, helping to free up traffic and congestion.
In San Diego, our facility is LEED gold certified and is primarily dedicated to laboratory research. A major focus has been on improving process efficiency in the lab, and by switching to large containers for high-use solvents and an automated dispensing system, we’ve been able to significantly reduce waste and transportation and fuel usage. The site has also implemented LED lighting, occupancy sensors and resets during off-peak hours to reduce energy use.
A great success in San Diego is our commuter program. The San Diego Association of Governments' (SANDAG) iCommute program encourages the use of alternative transportation methods, including mass transit, carpooling and biking to work. Each year SANDAG awards companies for their efforts to promote green commuting options to employees. We’re pleased that Vertex has consistently achieved recognition as a SANDAG/iCommute Diamond Award winner for more than ten years and the highest level award for the past two years. Our site also offers 30 electric car charging stations to support employees who use hybrid/electric cars, helping to further reduce our collective carbon impact.
And we’re not done yet. In 2020, a complete solar panel array will be installed on our facility’s roof and will provide 700,000 kWh of solar energy annually. The solar project will further progress Vertex’s commitment to clean energy and sustainability.
Our sustainability efforts in Oxford started in earnest in 2016 with a sitewide aspects and impacts assessment. We then ranked the impacts and developed a program around our top ones, like energy used to support lab operations, chemicals used in our processes and waste generated. Today, the Oxford Sustainability Forum is a multi-departmental team that provides a focal point for these efforts, helps generate awareness of environmental factors and reminds Vertexians of our impact on the planet.
The Oxford site transitioned to renewable energy in June 2018 and now uses 100 percent-accredited renewable sources for both electric and gas supplies. Waste reduction is another key focus and for the last six years the site has sent zero waste to landfills and continues to review plastic consumable items to find suitable alternatives.
To tackle energy reduction, the team worked with our Facilities Department to increase the efficiency of lab operations and optimize laboratory ventilation and fume hood air flows. Wherever possible, engineering equipment is replaced with energy efficient models, and LED lighting projects are completed inside and outside the building. Employees also are encouraged to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
As with most things at Vertex, sustainability is a team effort. We’re fortunate to have a global network of Vertexians who are focused on building on the progress we’ve made and bringing new, creative ideas to the table.