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Recognizing Earth Day every year at Vertex gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we have done and what we can do — individually and as a company — to minimize our impacts on the environment. 

Our focus on greenhouse gas emissions 

According to the United Nations, fossil fuels account for 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). That’s a startling statistic, and I’m proud of the work we are doing to reduce GHG emissions.  

Since 2014, we’ve reduced our absolute GHG emissions by 53 percent globally. We follow a global, standardized protocol that drives how we measure, manage and report on GHG emissions across our global locations. Emissions are categorized by “Scope.” Scope 1 emissions are produced from sources directly controlled by an organization, for example combustion emissions from boilers that use natural gas for heating purposes and process gases used at our labs. Scope 2 emissions are indirect, meaning they are associated with the purchase of electricity.  

In 2018 we set a goal of reducing our GHG Scope 1 and Scope 2 market-based emissions by 20 percent over five years. We exceeded our target in 2022 (one year ahead of schedule), reducing our total emissions by 21.4 percent.  With the guidance of our engineering and facilities managers, we’ve cut down on our consumption through: 

  • Building or retrofitting buildings using a “sustainability by design” approach and following green construction practices     

  • Retro-commissioning and rebalancing HVAC systems 

  • Installing energy-efficient lighting and heat recovery systems 

  • Optimizing airflow in laboratories 

In 2023, we obtained 49 percent of our energy from renewable energy sources. Our UK facilities source 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources. We shift, when possible, to renewable energy technologies and adopt power purchase agreements to source electricity and natural gas. 

An image looking up at the Vertex Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Boston, Mass.

Our global headquarters in Boston.

Planning for the future: Our new GHG goal 

While we’re proud of our progress, there’s still work to be done. Using a 2022 baseline, we set a new target — to decrease our GHG emissions by 42 percent by 2032, which aligns with the science-based targets initiative. To inform our strategy, we executed a decarbonization study at three of our largest research and manufacturing facilities to help us identify areas of opportunity to electrify these spaces and reduce our GHG emissions. To meet our target, we will focus on: 

  • Building sustainably to minimize growth in emissions  

  • Managing energy use to reduce emissions at existing facilities  

  • Investing in green energy to increase electrification and ensure long-term emissions reductions  

An image of the Vertex Pharmaceuticals building in San Diego, California

In San Diego, we have native drought tolerant plants and bio retention ponds for rainwater diversion. We use reclaimed water for landscape irrigation.

Conserving water 

Minimizing our footprint also includes responsibly managing our water usage. To reduce our potable water consumption, we’ve installed high-efficiency fixtures and appliances in restrooms, kitchens and laboratories. In San Diego and at our Boston research and development locations, we reclaim water through a reverse osmosis reject system to use in restrooms and for HVAC. San Diego also uses reclaimed water for outdoor irrigation and captures debris and pollution from rainwater using bioswales landscaping. At our Oxford, U.K., Research Site, we collect rainwater for our flowers using a water butt.  

We’ve also conducted water stewardship assessments at many locations globally (64 percent of our real estate by square footage). These assessments detail the sources, volume and consumption of water from our laboratories and manufacturing operations and will help us identify areas where we can further improve water efficiency in the future.  

We can all make a difference 

We believe that we can do our part to protect the environment for future generations by committing to continuous improvement, transparency and accountability. 

For more about Vertex’s environmental impact and sustainability initiatives, check out our 2023 Corporate Responsibility Report.