The Principal and the Environment
Our company's focus on energy efficiency involves everything from improving the efficiency of our corporate campus and commercial properties, to our sponsorships, to our employee transportation initiatives.
We're improving the efficiency of our building operations through our partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle and a dedicated energy manager.
We're continuing to pursue ENERGY STAR® recognition for all of our corporately owned and occupied buildings.
Some examples of our efficient use of energy include:
- Using outdoor air to cool many of our buildings
- Doing a complete lighting retrofit in all our buildings
- Using compact florescent lamps or LED lamps to replace incandescent or halogen lamps when possible
- Adding a new lighting controller system that turns lights on and off to reduce usage after hours
- Using high-efficiency motors whenever replacements are made
- Updating three heat exchangers with a single high-efficiency heat exchanger for the domestic hot water (cuts down on building steam usage for the boilers)
- Working with our suppliers to add energy-mizers on vending machines
The benefits of our free cooling efforts include:
- Reducing the amount of water used for air conditioning
- Reducing chemicals used for cooling tower water treatment
- Recycling energy – using it once to light a space and secondly to heat a space, saving energy that would otherwise be wasted
- Preventing warming of the micro-climate surrounding the buildings in the winter, making them less attractive to birds, mice and bats that might tend to stay around warm areas in the winter
We've also made a significant effort to consolidate our offices across the United States in order to minimize our carbon footprint. For example, in many cities where our employees may have been in two or more locations, they're now co-housed with other employees from other business divisions working in the same city. In the past eight years, we've consolidated 66 offices to 33.
The Principal Charity Classic® Shoot for Zero initiative
In 2011, The Principal became the first to sponsor a carbon-neutral Champions Tour event. We partnered with MidAmerican Energy Company, Waste Management and Powerfilm to offset the carbon footprint of The Principal Charity Classic. Nearly 75,000 people attended this event in 2011, which raised more than $2.4 million for local children's charities from 2007-2010.
The partnership for a carbon-neutral event included several tactics, including: solar compactors on site, electric golf carts, on-site recycling centers for both recyclable and organic materials, and solar power for skybox televisions.
Powerfilm supplied solar panels on a skybox to power the televisions and solar panels to power 10 carts throughout tournament week.
Waste Management provided recycling receptacles and two solar powered compactors for waste collection.
To offset the remaining carbon emissions associated with the event, MidAmerican Energy provided and will permanently retire renewable energy credits.
Shoot for Zero allowed golf fans to get involved, too. Throughout the tournament, we provided containers for recyclable materials.
Results from the tournament include:
- Two hundred organic cotton T-shirts were sold; for every five, funds were used to plant a tree in commemoration of Principal Charity Classic, for a total of forty trees
- Two solar compactors were used on-site throughout the week
- The Principal skybox on the 18th green was powered by solar energy
- Ten golf carts were powered with solar energy
- Carbon offsets were used to counterbalance carbon emissions associated with the event.
The Principal encourages employees to reduce their usage through several programs, including:
- Free, unlimited bus usage and ride share subsidies – Employees in the Des Moines metro area have access to unlimited usage of the bus system at no cost to them. During an average month, our employees ride the bus about 14,000 times. We also provide subsidies for ride share programs in Des Moines. Employees in all locations can also take advantage of a program to pay for a portion of their commuter/transportation expenses on a pre-tax basis.
- We support Bike to Work Week and provide bike racks for employees to use year-round.
- Human Resources is leading an initiative to provide more flexibility and flexible work arrangements for employees, which means more employees are telecommuting as needed or on a permanent basis, conserving fuel. An estimated 43 percent of our employees used formal or informal work-at-home or telecommuting options in the past year.
Other transportation initiatives include:
- In 2010 and 2011, we installed state-of-the-art videoconferencing and teleconferencing systems in our corporate auditorium and two of our largest conference rooms to encourage tele-meetings instead of plane or car travel. About 60 of our offices outside of Des Moines have videoconferencing capabilities.
- Our corporate security team uses hybrid security vehicles, which has reduced fuel usage by 43 percent. They also use bikes in the summer to reduce fuel usage even more.
- We are also a sponsor of Des Moines B-CycleTM, a new bicycle sharing program that emphasizes fitness, eco-friendly transportation and a new way to travel in and around downtown. From mid-March to August 2011, bikes were checked out more than 1,600 times by more than 1,000 users. In 2012, we installed a B-Cycle Station on our corporate campus.
- We ask our travel suppliers to provide us with information about their green initiatives and we make this available to our employees to help them in making more environmentally friendly travel choices.