Energy, Emissions, Water, and Waste

Energy, Emissions, Water, and Waste

In 2020, we continued our efforts toward reducing our operational energy, emissions, water, and waste footprint across our owned and leased properties. Cigna’s Corporate Real Estate team is focused on creating alignment in the structure, operations, processes, and technology across our growing real estate portfolio.

Identifying Energy – and Emissions – Reduction Opportunities

To increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have prioritized the following areas of focus:

  • Real Estate: We implement energy-efficiency projects; building control system optimization; standardize our operating protocols; minimize waste generated from repairs and maintenance activities; and consciously schedule work to minimize emissions from these critical activities. When renovating existing spaces or building new spaces, we prioritize our employees’ physical well-being, health, and safety and create collaborative and productive green-built environments. In regard to the latter, while leasing new spaces, we prioritize LEED certified buildings and include green leasing language as much as possible to support our mission of environmental stewardship. We also implement thorough maintenance protocols designed to maximize equipment uptime and extend lifespan. A life cycle and risk-based reliability methodology also helps keep our properties operating efficiently and effectively. Additionally, we prioritize repurposing existing furnishings as much as possible and recycle our construction waste whenever possible, in line with the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” principle.
  • Business Travel: Although business travel was greatly impacted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we support telecommuting, encouraging ride-sharing programs, and offer a pre-tax mass transit benefit program. Additionally, we have established a fuel-efficient, leased-vehicle fleet. Our fleet exceeds the national average for fuel efficiency: the majority of our vehicles are four-cylinder with alternative fuel capabilities and hybrid engines, and are classified as partial zero emissions vehicles. Similarly, Cigna's global security utilizes a fleet of hybrid vehicles, Segways, and rovers to support onsite security.
  • Information Technology: We prioritize our largest waste streams, including e-waste. We utilize server virtualization, and desktop virtualization, and we have a zero e-waste policy.

Modernizing Our Corporate Headquarters

Cigna is focused on making investments that support the long-term energy efficiency, evolving workforce, and modernization goals at our corporate headquarters in Bloomfield, Connecticut, which was built in 1957. We worked toward these goals in 2020 by participating in the Sustainable Office Design (SOD) program in partnership with our local energy company, Eversource, which allowed us to receive expertise and incentives to help implement thoughtful, integrated efficiency improvements. Several opportunities were identified as part of the SOD at both the HQ building and Cigna's training facility, Cigna University, which included upgrades to the Energy Management System throughout our headquarters; extensive HVAC improvements; replacement of air handling units; and replacement of our old uninsulated roof.

The changes that we are instituting at our corporate headquarters are expected to reduce carbon emissions by slightly over 3,100 tons, the equivalent of removing around 600 cars from the road or powering approximately 300 homes for a year. The lighting projects throughout headquarters and Cigna University will also deliver a lifetime savings of approximately $1.7 million.

Deploying Water-efficient Technologies and Practices

Much of Cigna's water use comes from cooling towers; make-up water for condenser systems; landscaping and irrigation for owned properties; older model heating at a few proprieties; and ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. We have employed many significant water-reduction techniques, including low-water landscape designs, faucet sensors in all large facilities, irrigation optimization through climate – and weather-sensing technology, and the upgrading of HVAC equipment.

To reduce water consumption, save energy, and increase sustainability, we use a variety of strategies and technologies that lessen the burden on the potable water supply and wastewater systems. We are guided by the following model:

  • MONITOR water-consumption performance.
  • MAXIMIZE fixture potable water efficiency within buildings with the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures, sensors, and automatic controls.
  • PRACTICE water-efficient landscaping and smart-efficiency irrigation technology.
  • PROTECT natural habitat, waterways, and water supply from pollutants carried by building discharge water.

We continue to work toward improving the data integrity of our water usage and have implemented guidelines for improvements with vendors to avoid data discrepancies, while increasing the number of sites we are collecting water usage information from. This process has allowed us to make informed decisions about where improvements are needed. Increasing the integrity of our data will help us to target properties for improvements, such as projects to lessen water use.

Additionally, the findings from our most recent portfolio-wide water risk assessment allowed us to better understand which locations within our global real estate portfolio have the highest levels of water stress and other water-related challenges using the WRI Aqueduct tool and WWF Water Risk Filter. The water risk assessment helped Cigna identify sites most vulnerable to external water risks. Twenty-six sites were identified as having a ‘high or ‘extremely high’ business significance with an ‘extremely high’ baseline water stress risk. Baseline water stress is defined as the ratio of total water withdrawals to available surface and groundwater supplies. Out of the 26 sites, 24 sites with at least ‘high’ business significance and ‘extremely high’ baseline water stress risks were located in Arizona and two sites were located in California. We continue to use the findings from the risk assessment in our 2021 site plan actions to help identify and prioritize sites with high water risk and implement actions to address water-related risks. We are also utilizing the key findings from this analysis to help support context-based water reductions at priority sites to help reduce consumption at a particular property, since there is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing risks.

Implementing Strategic Waste Reduction and Recycling Programs

To reduce the quantity of waste we generate, while improving our workplace environment, we apply best practices in materials selection, waste disposal and reduction, and responsible procurement practices. We have also created numerous recycling programs to assist us with our waste management efforts, which include:

Focus Areas Company Practices
  • Promote a 100 percent paper shredding policy, which resulted in the diversion of 1,195 metric tons of waste to landfill across the portfolio in 2020 and 9,195 tons since 2014.
  • Encourage the reduction of paper use, which includes eliminating unnecessary printing, setting office copiers to two-sided printing, and suggesting the use of misprints as notepaper where appropriate.
  • Support the purchasing of recycled paper through procurement practices, which now represents roughly 60 percent of our total paper spend.
  • Encourage customers to choose paperless options where feasible by providing them with the option to receive paperless statements, submit claims online, use direct deposit, and view plan information through and the myCigna® App. In 2019 and 2020, over 6 million customers opted to receive paperless statements, which resulted in the elimination of nearly 68 million paper statements and envelopes.
Plastic and Glass
  • Empower employees to reduce their use of single-use plastic bottles by offering bottle-less hot and cold filtered water systems at our offices.
  • Encourage employees to recycle plastic and glass by locating recycling stations at more than 60 offices across the portfolio. In 2020, Cigna’s non-pharma locations recycled over 255 tons of waste. The recycle streams range from single-stream recycling programs to individual items such as plastics (printer ribbons, patient bottles and printed mailer bags from pharmacies), removable media (DVDs, CDs, flash drives), steel cans, glass, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass jars. Our portfolio-wide efforts to recycle most recyclable items, and operations like waste to energy at our headquarters, and construction waste recycling programs have allowed us to divert 65 percent of our waste stream from going into landfills.
  • Recycled nearly 1,000 tons of plastic pill bottles as part of our pharmaceutical fulfillment centers’ specialty recycling program.
Cafeterias and Break Rooms
  • Reuse food scraps by implementing a composting program at our Bloomfield, Connecticut office, which resulted in the diversion of pounds of food from landfill – and subsequently pounds of carbon being avoided. This ties in closely with our recycling mission.
  • Reduced food waste in 2020 by donating 1,185 pounds of prepared food to the Open Hearth, a nonprofit in Hartford, Connecticut. Five other Cigna locations around the United States donated more than 400 pounds of food to local nonprofits.
Ink and Toners
  • Encourage recycling of copier ink and toner cartridges through recycling programs at all of our locations.
  • Support the exclusive purchase of toner cartridges made from partially recycled materials through procurement policies.
Furniture and Computer Repurposing and Donation
  • Encourage space optimization efforts through the use of the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” model, which our furniture donation program was created, in part, to facilitate.
  • Encourage the reuse of furniture and office supplies.
  • Support the reuse of technology by donating computers to nonprofits through the computer donation program, which is facilitated by the Information Technology team.
Lamps and Ballasts
  • Cigna currently has recycling programs at over 50 offices throughout the portfolio.

Cigna undertook a renovation of its corporate headquarters in 2015, which continued through 2020 in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were able to proceed with renovations due to proper infection-control strategies, training of our staff and vendors, and modified work shifts. In addition to restacking the building and the many efficiency projects undertaken during the renovation, ensuring environmental stewardship, optimizing building operations, and reducing our carbon footprint remained central to the multi-year project. To minimize the environmental impact of the project, we leveraged a robust construction debris recycling program from the start. In 2020, we diverted over 900 tons of debris from landfills, which represents more than 65 percent of debris generated from the headquarter’s project and from the construction project at our data center in Connecticut.

At Cigna-managed facilities, we were able to achieve a landfill diversion rate of 65 percent utilizing various recycling streams and programs.

Specialty Recycling at Pharmaceutical Fulfillment Centers

At Cigna’s four pharmaceutical fulfilment centers, we devised a specialty recycling program for plastic pill bottles and other unique materials generated from our operations to divert them from landfills. Through this program, we were able to recycle nearly 1,000 tons of pill bottles, over 800 tons of cardboard, and over 3,000 wooden pallets. The plastic from the pill bottles will be used to manufacture post-consumer recycled goods such as park benches, composite lumber, and mulch. Another unique operation at our largest warehouse in Ohio utilizes a densifier machine that helps compact polystyrene containers, used for temperature control of sensitive drugs, into logs that take 1/50th of the space compared with non-compacted material. This reduces the number of pick-ups needed from the warehouse and drop-offs to the recycling facility and diverts over 50 tons of waste from the landfill annually and over 600 miles driven each year.

Case Study: Protecting Customers’ Medicine and the Environment

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