FedEx Ground’s official sustainability and fuel department may celebrate its first birthday this November, but the company has been implementing energy-efficient initiatives for much longer than the past 12 months. Paul Melander, the managing director of sustainability, says the department was brought to fruition last year to act as a liaison between corporate and ground departments and to ensure initiatives were running efficiently across the board. “[Sustainability] is something that is core to our business,” Melander says. “We consistently and constantly focus on doing things in a more efficient manner, both in the field and in our buildings. It’s an ongoing effort.”
Melander points to four specific components that compose the company’s efforts today: targeting renewable energy sources, reducing waste, cutting back on energy and water consumption, and developing strategic partnerships to ensure vendors and suppliers share their same energy-saving goals. New construction projects, such as the company’s new distribution facility in Redmond, Washington, which achieved LEED Silver certification earlier this year, are outfitted with various efficiency components from day one, and existing buildings are selected for retrofitting based on a number of criteria.
With more than 560 facilities in their ground distribution arsenal—and the size of buildings varying dramatically—prioritizing which locations receive the most attention can pose a challenge. “We identify those where we have the greatest opportunities to go back in and do both lighting retrofits while looking for other opportunities,” Melander says. “Whether that is using aerators to reduce water consumption, reducing waste, or removing paper towel holders and putting in air dryers, we are looking at every opportunity possible to be able to reduce waste across our network.”
A shining example of FedEx Ground’s current success in these initiatives is the Redmond project. Designed by Freiheit & Ho Architects and developed and owned by SunCap Property Group and PMF Investments, respectively, the 212,000-square-foot behemoth is the largest industrial building in Redmond. Thanks to the use of recycled materials and its reflective white roof, the building scored 18 out of 19 points in the energy-savings category, reducing overall energy consumption by 46 percent.
The Redmond distribution center, which also employs water-reduction strategies, is one of many FedEx buildings that exemplify the company’s commitment to sustainability, but the company’s management team is quick to point out that they also work to instill a sense of responsibility throughout their workforce as another way to improve efficiencies across the board. Employees are encouraged to limit waste, volunteer in the community outside of work, and engage in internal sustainability networks when possible to establish a continuing dialogue. At the Redmond facility, bike racks and showers were installed to encourage workers to reduce their individual footprints. It’s a task that becomes easier thanks to the building’s proximity to mass transit.
For a business that in many ways operates 24/7, finding even the smallest ways to cut back on energy use can make a big impact, and FedEx Ground is working to make sure its cross-country footprint leaves a little bit less of a mark, one package at a time.