Environmental goals and results

We think we’ve got a great planet and we want to keep it that way.

That’s why we’ve committed to minimizing our company’s environmental impact by:

  • reducing our carbon footprint
  • ensuring efficient use of water and energy
  • implementing comprehensive recycling and waste management programs, and
  • engaging our employees and supply chain through environmental awareness initiatives

We’ve made a lot of progress in the past several years. And in 2017, we:

  • Ended the year with a 29% reduction in carbon emissions over the 2011 baseline.
  • Diverted 70% of our waste from landfill—exceeding LEED guidelines.
  • Completed the renovation of our headquarters building with a landfill diversion rate of more than 90%, exceeding the LEED guideline of 70%.
  • Purchased more than 99.9% of the paper for our Print-to-Mail facility from sustainably managed forests.

Carbon reduction goal tracking

We're on track to continue our goal to reduce our carbon footprint through at least 2020. The chart below shows our percent reduction over our baseline year of 2011.

Graphic of Principal's carbon reduction each year compared to the baseline year of 2011.

Energy consumption

In 2012, we set a goal to reduce our 2011 energy consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 10% by the end of 2016.

Since then, we’ve implemented more than 60 no-cost/low-cost energy conservation measures and 40 capital energy conservation measures. All designed to reduce both our energy consumption and GHG emissions.

As a result, we’ve achieved significant reductions in both energy consumption and GHG emissions -- exceeding both of our goals.

If you like to read the nitty gritty details, check out our submissions to the CDP.

2011 (baseline)20122013201420152016
Electricity (MWh)89,60381,42678,69777,16169,31067,542
Natural Gas (therms)556,131543,695539,791659,356560,908537,493
Diesel (gallons)8,51736,90512,5412,7486,3614,584
Jet Fuel (gallons)274,628288,258289,345293,621323,586239,006

GHG emissions

2011 (baseline)20122013201420152016
Scope 1 (mtCO2e)5,700.556,055.885,797.046,374.366,177.455,231.31
Scope 2 (mtCO2e)62,798.5352,935.7051,161.4748,094.9243,144.8242,005.96
Scope 3 (mtCO2e)20,177.4524,112.3319,616.8419,555.9419,371.1518,408.85

Want to understand more about the difference in the type of emissions? The Greenhouse Gas Protocol website can help.

Water usage

Improving water efficiency has been an integral part of our $400 million campus-wide renovations started in 2013 at our Des Moines headquarters. All our new indoor fixtures and fittings, as well as our outdoor landscaping and irrigation plans meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. And the changes are paying off.

Water (kGal)53,41857,26254,49552,21451,88445,310

Waste & recycling

When it comes to waste management, we take a two-pronged approach:

  • We strive to decrease the amount of waste we generate
  • We strive to increase the amount we recycle

We’ve made improvements by installing new receptacles at our Des Moines campus with clear labels for both waste and recycling streams. We’ve also boosted employee education about what can and can’t be recycled.

Our diversion rate exceeds LEED guidelines, which include a target landfill diversion rate of at least 50% for ongoing waste.

Landfill (lbs)1,327,6251,287,3791,133,274
Recycled (lbs)3,046,9512,765,4562,142,386
Diversion rate (%)70%68%65%


While we’ve significantly reduced the amount of paper we use over the last several years, we wanted to do all we could to make sure that the paper we do use comes from well-managed forests to help protect natural resources.

In 2009 we pursued “chain of custody” certifications for our Print-to-Mail facility in Urbandale, Iowa. The certifications were awarded—after a painstaking process—by the Forest Stewardship CouncilTM, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative®;and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

These certifications demonstrate that the paper Principal uses has been tracked every step of the way—from the forest to the finished product—and has been managed in a sustainable fashion. Since 2012, more than 99 percent of the paper purchased by our Print-to-Mail facility has had chain of custody certification.

Supporting our environment

Principal takes its responsibility to support our natural environment seriously, it is our mission to reduce our company’s overall environmental impact.