Legrand designs electrical and digital solutions for electric vehicles, lighting controls, and data centers. The French company does business in 90 countries, and its products are distributed in 180. It builds sustainability into its mission and products, intending to reduce its environmental footprint.
“Legrand’s responsibility is to limit the impact of its activities on the environment, and to be a benchmark player in the onset of a low carbon society,” the company says. “This responsibility extends through our locations around the globe and into the life cycle of our products, from their design to the end of their useful life. Our challenge is to meet the science-based target to which we committed, by leveraging all forms of innovation, reducing the environmental footprint of our products and operations, and exhorting our suppliers to make their own carbon reduction commitments.”
What steps is Legrand taking to cut its carbon footprint?
It is committed to the circular economy — reducing its energy, water, and waste footprint while limiting its transportation. With that, Legrand wants to cut its CO2 emissions by 7% — a step it took in 2018 when it signed on to the Science Based Targets initiative to keep global temperatures in check. It is focusing on cutting its footprint by reducing its use of fossil fuels at its facilities and lowering its energy consumption. It is also switching to renewable energy when it can.
Its goal is to avoid 2.9 million metric tons of CO2 because it uses more energy-efficient products. The company makes occupancy sensors, plug-load controls, LED lighting fixtures, and energy management systems.
For example, the company installed a 500-kilowatt solid-oxide fuel cell system to power its North American headquarters in West Hartford, Connecticut. It will produce up to 88% of the electricity to every building on its 263,000-square-foot, 100-year-old campus. The fuel cell will generate a roughly 21% reduction in energy intensity and as much as a 50% reduction in harmful CO2 emissions. The company says it will save $2.4 million over 10 years.
The investment is aligned with its promises five years ago — to reduce energy intensity by 25% over 10 years across 14 U.S.-based facilities. It also sought to reduce energy intensity at its headquarters by 10% over two years. Legrand says it has met both goals and is now pushing harder.
“Legrand now has its sights set on achieving another 25% total reduction in energy intensity across all of its North American facilities from a 2012 baseline and the fuel cell is going to help us meet that lofty goal here in West Hartford,” said Susan Rochford, Vice President of Energy Efficiency, Sustainability & Public Policy at Legrand, North America.
Solid oxide fuel cells are electromechanical devices that convert the chemical energy of fuel and an oxidant directly into electrical energy without combustion taking place for an energy source with a much lower environmental impact than legacy power systems. The cells require a sand-like powder instead of precious metals, which costs much less, and conversion from fuel to electricity happens at twice the rate of conventional technologies.
Is Legrand involved in the circular economy?
It has set ambitious eco-design and product sustainability goals centered on using sustainability and recycling or reusing its products. Indeed, Legrand is committed to making relevant products in a circular economy — to keep products in play for as long as possible.
“We are challenging our product design teams to rethink the traditional design process and to embed eco-design considerations into new product development,” it says. “We utilize life cycle assessment tools up front to lessen the environmental impacts of manufacturing, distributing, using, and disposing of our products, and look for opportunities to embed circular economy principles.”
As of 2018, the company says it has diverted more than 94% of its waste from landfill. From now on, it says it will not only divert waste but also reduce the waste it is generating by applying the principles of the circular economy in its product design and manufacturing processes. The Legrand Group’s global goal is 90% of waste recovered. “We believe that waste equals economic inefficiency, so we strive to continuously reduce the energy and resource intensity of our business.”
Its efforts so far:
- They have established comprehensive corporate sustainability policies for Legrand, North and Central America, explicitly stating goals and best practices.
- They became a partner in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Challenge in 2011 and have since won several awards from the DOE recognizing our accomplishments.
- They were recognized by the Alliance to Save Energy through their Star of Energy Efficiency, Industrial Manufacturing Award in 2018.
Beyond cutting its CO2 and limiting its waste, Legrand is combating pollution and volatile organic compounds. As they are known, VOCs react in sunlight with nitrogen oxides emitted from cars and power plants. Further, the injection and molding of plastic components, stamping of metal parts, assembly of plastic and electronic components, and surface paint may trigger VOCs.
They can lead to smog and acid rain, creating nausea and difficulty in breathing. In some cases, they can cause cancer.
“By reducing the VOCs in our factories, we create healthier indoor environments for our employees and lower our air pollutants. To meet this goal, we are working with our operations teams and have already created an action plan to contribute to our roadmap goal of 10% reduction in VOC emissions,” it says.