It was a $40 million idea: build a system that could extract the vast reserves of hot water lying deep beneath the Janssen Pharmaceuticals (part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies) campus in Beerse, Belgium, and use it to power everything on the site, from washing machines to air conditioners.
The geothermal energy initiative, which will help slash the site’s CO2 emissions by nearly one-third, is the first of its kind for Johnson & Johnson—and just one of the clever ways the company is investing in smart sustainability innovations across the globe.
Truth be told, Johnson & Johnson has a long history of doing its part to protect the environment—even baking its responsibility of "protecting the environment and natural resources" into Our Credo, the company's mission statement, in the 1970s.
In recent years, the company has made huge strides in everything from using renewable electricity—in 2017, more than 20% of the company’s total electricity use came from green sources—to cutting carbon emissions, which have been decreased by 10.4% globally since 2010.
And these efforts are being noticed: This past January, Johnson & Johnson was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of the top U.S. companies to use green power by leveraging such renewable sources as sunlight and wind. The company also just ranked 28th on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100 list, and came in at 13 on the list of the EPA's Green Power Partners that are Fortune 500 companies.
The future holds even more promise.
As part of its Health for Humanity 2020 goals, Johnson & Johnson has pledged to reduce absolute carbon emissions 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The company also wants to produce or procure 35% of its worldwide electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020—and ultimately power all facilities with renewable energy by 2050.
As the saying goes: think globally, act locally. So we're taking a look at how six Johnson & Johnson sites around the world are breaking the mold when it comes to forward-thinking sustainability practices.
Shanghai, China: A LEED platinum site that's good for the Earth and employees
China hasn’t traditionally been known for being very green, but its most populous city, Shanghai, has been making strides with its environmental efforts—and that includes One J&J, a 22-floor office tower that's home to nine Johnson & Johnson family companies, where sustainability is paramount. In 2017, the building was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum—the ranking system’s highest level.
The designation is due, in part, to significant achievements in water and energy efficiency—from special faucets that cut water use by 38%, LED lights that save 62% annually in electricity and an HVAC system that saves 36% per year in energy costs.
Key construction components were also selected with sustainability in mind: About 7% of total construction materials were recycled, and nearly 43% of them were manufactured within 500 miles of the project site, reducing the environmental impact of transportation. “We were conscious about not creating more CO2 emissions, or making more waste than necessary during construction,” says Staff Engineer.
There's also an added perk for the building’s 2,200 employees: a high-efficiency air-filtering system that has increased ventilation by 30%. “Given the air quality concerns in China, we added an extra layer of filtering inside the building to make sure the air our employees breathe is very good,” says Huang. “That’s valuable to employee well-being.”
Titusville, N.J.: Sustainability strides by way of solar panels ... and sheep
Set on about 250 acres in the New Jersey countryside, this site is the headquarters of Janssen United States and houses more than 1,500 employees.
Not only was it the first Johnson & Johnson locale to receive LEED certification in 2004, but it’s also a working farm as part of a commitment to keep the site a natural part of the local community. “There’s an old stone barn and livestock,” says, Regional Energy Manager, Americas. “There’s even an employee who raises cattle [on the grounds].”
But its greenest feature is an array of nearly 13,500 solar panels, spread across 20 acres, that generate more than 4 megawatts of electricity—enough to power 70% of the campus. In fact, it's the company's largest solar installation worldwide.
Another way the site reduces its carbon footprint is more old-school: The farm’s resident sheep cut the lawn.Share
“We wanted to make a statement that showed our commitment to renewable energy and sustainability,” says Cassidy. “This being a farm, there’s always been a commitment to sustainability, so it seemed like the right fit.”
Another way the site reduces its carbon footprint is more old-school: The farm’s resident sheep cut the lawn. Since the solar panels are laid out in a way that makes it hard for lawn mower equipment to fit underneath, “we brought in sheep to do it,” says Cassidy. By constantly eating the grass and clover, the herd is essentially a low-impact landscaping crew.
Cork, Ireland: Wind power with impact
When it comes to renewable energy, this site is a pioneer. In 2014, the southwest Ireland home of DePuy Synthes, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, became the first Johnson & Johnson location to install a wind turbine, which uses airflow to harness electricity. The turbine provides 35% of the campus’ electricity, generating more than 32 million kilowatt-hours and offsetting about 14,000 tons of CO2, to date—the equivalent of taking 7,300 cars off the road.
Construction is now in the works on a second turbine that will be up and running by November, which will also offer battery storage to save energy that’s been generated but not yet used.
“As a healthcare company, we understand the impact that climate change can have on us all,” says, Automation Systems Manager, Digital Systems & Analytics, who led the installation of the turbines. “When I look at my time and effort here, I know it’s something that’s making a positive difference to the place where I live, and leaving a positive mark on the environment. I see that as part of my duty in the industry.”
Helsingborg, Sweden: A high standard for reduced carbon emissions
This McNeil AB site, which manufactures Nicorette?, is the first-ever Johnson & Johnson location to be certified carbon dioxide neutral for all energy sources across manufacturing, warehousing and R&D facilities.
Translation: None of the electricity or fuel used contributes carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
Seven years after the initiative kicked off, the site has reduced CO2 emissions by 5,000 tons and reduced its energy usage by one-fourth—even while ramping up production by 25%.Share
“Our processes are pretty demanding from an energy standpoint,” says, Manager of Facilities and Security, McNeil AB Helsingborg. “We do a lot of heating and cooling of our spaces and production of purified water, so we wanted to invest in efficiency and reduce the energy that we consumed.”
To that end, the site replaced the use of CO2-heavy natural gas with energy-efficient district heating (a central, city-owned plant supplies power to multiple buildings) and eco-friendly biogas made from manure and organic waste.
Seven years after the initiative kicked off, the site has reduced CO2 emissions by 5,000 tons and reduced its energy usage by one-fourth—even while ramping up production by 25%.
Baddi, India: A torchbearer for reduced landfill waste
At this 3.5-acre plant, which manufactures products for the company's consumer business, there's an impressive program in place to divert 100% of its nonhazardous manufacturing waste away from landfills through smart recycling and other initiatives.
And, Environmental Health and Safety Site Lead at Baddi, is the one leading the charge.
Ganapa has been working to ensure that the Baddi site serves as a model of sustainability in the region by doing things like sending paper, plastic and used industrial drums to authorized recyclers; providing food waste to local pig farmers; and sending discarded product waste to other companies for repurposing.
Beerse, Belgium: An ambitious geothermal energy project
It takes a lot of energy to power this Janssen Pharmaceuticals site, where manufacturing, R&D and distribution takes place. In fact, the site's electricity consumption equals that of 38,000 homes.
In Western Europe it’s the first project to use geothermal technology for an industrial site. We’re at the forefront of this technology. And we’re very proud.Share
To help address that kind of energy usage in a more sustainable way, a massive geothermal energy project is underway that involves drilling wells about 1.6 miles deep, pumping up hot water (about 194 degrees Fahrenheit) from deep within the earth for use on the property and then cooling the water in a heat exchanger before returning it to the earth.
“The temperature is the perfect fit for heating processes and air-conditioning offices,” says the project's lead,, Director of Facilities and Operations, Beerse. “By doing this, we can effectively supply all uses of heat on the property and all the heat we extract from the earth is automatically replenished.”
The project, which is expected to take about four years to complete, will reduce the site’s CO2 emissions by about 30%. “In Western Europe it’s the first project to use geothermal technology for an industrial site,” says Leen, in reference to a similar project in the works at Disneyland Paris. “We’re at the forefront of this technology. And we’re very proud.”