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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|
|Plastic and Glass||
|Cafeterias and Break Rooms||
|Ink and Toners||
|Furniture and Computer Repurposing and Donation||
|Lamps and Ballasts||
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.