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Growing Our Impact Through Advancing Sustainability at Franklin Energy
June 17, 2021 •Bridgid Lutz
Franklin Energy has a proud history of doing great work to help reduce the carbon impact of millions of utility customers. The work we did in 2020 alone will help our clients and utility customers save 20 billion kWh of electricity, 1.5 billion therms of natural gas, and 110 billion gallons of water over the lifetime of the efficiency measures. That equates to reducing CO2 emissions by about 1.6 million metric tons. Now that’s an impact!
So, why are we going out of our way to discuss sustainability? Isn’t that what we’re expected to do?
First, let’s talk about what sustainability really is. One definition seen very commonly comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Seems pretty logical. But this definition requires us to look beyond environmental issues alone. We can’t meet the needs of present or future generations without addressing the pressing social issues of today. So, when we talk about sustainability at Franklin Energy, we are talking about broader environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
As a company, both environmental and social issues matter deeply to us. We do our work while prioritizing diversity and inclusion, and we excel at finding ways to serve hard-to-reach and income-qualified customers. But when 2020 hit, we knew we needed to step up and become more active in the conversations around social and energy equity. This led to a more formalized approach and firm goals for both environmental and social issues. We made the choice to document not only what we are doing, but also how we are doing it. Accountability, tracking, and reporting are keys to providing visibility into the efforts that we are making.
In 2021, we formalized this work by creating a new coordinating function called Sustainability Leadership. We now have defined governance over sustainability that starts at the top of the organization with the Board of Directors and executive team, and reaches throughout by including a new director of sustainability, a sustainability working group, and experts from various functions across the company. We are working to establish auditable processes and data tracking so that the work we do can be verified and reported.
Of note, we are proud to share Franklin Energy’s first Sustainability Report. This work describes our accomplishments in the past year and sets specific goals surrounding sustainability we aspire to reach in the coming years. We took great pains to develop this report using a thoughtful, strategic process. To ensure our goals are in line with what is most important to both our internal and external stakeholders, we performed an assessment of material issues; its completion was the first function of the sustainability working group. The takeaways from this assessment were used to identify our four main priorities:
- Ensuring safety, health, and security
- Championing our people
- Enabling the clean energy transition
- Building strong communities and local economies
Our goals are ambitious and far-reaching. We will reach net zero carbon by 2025 for our operations and create a plan to address impacts from our buildings and fleet, all while maintaining a focus on safety and data security. And of course, we won’t stop our work toward achieving greater employee engagement and strengthening our inclusive company culture. (See page 18 for a complete list of goals.) This is no small task.
I’ll ask again: Why are we speaking specifically about sustainability? It’s about growing our impact in a more formalized way, tracking our progress, sharing results, and, ultimately, achieving all these goals as soon as possible. We are excited to show that sustainability is not only what we do, but also how we do it—with the help of each and every one of our unique experts. That’s sustainability at Franklin Energy.