Beverage firm switches to 100% renewable energy at Norwalk building

May 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Last summer, Diageo announced a plan to invest more than £1 billion – or about $1.5 billion – in Scotch whisky brands like Johnnie Walker over the next five years to meet growing demand.

Last summer, Diageo announced a plan to invest more than £1 billion – or about $1.5 billion – in Scotch whisky brands like Johnnie Walker over the next five years to meet growing demand.

Since February, Diageo’s North American headquarters in Norwalk has been powered entirely by electricity generated from renewable sources.

Three months since making the shift, company representatives say they are already seeing the results — just not the kinds of results some outside observers might expect.

John Longo, director of corporate real estate for Diageo North America — the world’s largest producer of spirits — said the beverages company will see some savings from use-reduction actions like the addition of motion sensors that can control when lights turn on and off.

But he said the switch to renewable energy sources was not inherently about cost-savings.

“The decision to switch was based on Diageo’s sustainability goals,” Longo said in an email. “Every time we flip a light on we’re seeing results — we know that we’re not harming our environment just to conduct our business.”

Diageo North America offices in Norwalk, Plainfield, Ill., Relay, Md., and Tullahoma, Tenn., draw on renewable sources for all of their electricity demands as of this spring.

“By purchasing electricity derived from renewable sources, like wind or solar power, we will reduce our carbon emissions in Norwalk by more than 92 percent,” said Larry Schartz, president of Diageo North America, in a Feb. 2 statement.

Longo said Diageo purchases electricity from renewable sources and that the switch over to renewables didn’t involve any capital investment. He said Diageo worked with an energy broker to identify locations “where the energy market supports changing to renewable sources.”

The company has taken other steps to increase its “green” footprint, including the purchase of carbon offsets for its fleet of commercial vehicles, and it has made progress on reducing water usage and waste to landfills, especially across its manufacturing network.

The Norwalk headquarters has earned an Energy Star label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is currently being assessed for LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Diageo, whose global headquarters is in London, is among the world’s largest producers of beer and wine in addition to being the largest producer of spirits. Its brands include Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Guinness, among others.

Longo said sustainability is part of the company’s core mission.

“Sustainability isn’t the right thing to do because it’s good business — it’s good business because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia, who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony back in February to commemorate the milestone, said in a statement at the time that Diageo “helps set the tone for the local business community.”

“We are lucky that Diageo is an environmental steward, and is raising the bar for the rest of us,” Moccia said.

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