Pfizer Newbridge Powers Up

Michael Donlon and Dermot Doran of Pfizer Newbridge discuss the challenges and success of the site’s YOU Have the Power project.

By Paul Thomas, Senior Editor

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Pfizer’s Newbridge, Ireland facility has embarked upon a greening of its site that is as much about employee involvement and awareness as it is any specific project. “YOU Have the Power” has garnered support from employees by focusing on matters of importance to them—energy and water conservation—at work, home, and in the community. We speak with two of the key individuals behind the project, Michael Donlon and Dermot Doran.

PhM: What’s been the biggest success of the “YOU Have the Power” initiative thus far?

Michael Donlon (Site Lead, Environment, Health & Safety): Pfizer’s Newbridge (Ireland) facility has developed a comprehensive, holistic, cross functional Energy Program that seeks to optimize the site’s consumption of energy and other resources, in alignment with the vision and mission of Pfizer’s Environmental Sustainability Program. Pfizer Newbridge developed its “YOU Have the Power” Energy Communications program to enable the site to become more energy efficient and more competitive. One of the key successes of the program has been the engagement of colleagues who feel empowered to take action and implement real change. Concrete results – including a 26% reduction in energy consumption, 14% reduction in Carbon emissions, and 11% reduction in water consumption—demonstrate the powerful commitment of Pfizer Newbridge colleagues at every level of the organization to creating a greener site and building a more sustainable and competitive future.

The Pfizer Newbridge TeamPhM: Conversely, are there parts of the initiative that just haven’t worked, or that have been more challenging than expected? 

Donlon: In fact, the program has been an overwhelming success, with the site on target to achieve its previously established ambitious targets of 50% reduction in energy consumption and 40% reduction in water consumption by the end of 2014 (against a baseline year of 2009). The only issue we sometimes have, is that it can be difficult for colleagues to find sufficient time to implement all the changes that they want to pursue. It’s a very good position to be in.

PhM: You’re encouraging employees to save at work (Green Working), and at home (Green Living).  Have they gotten behind both initiatives equally & enthusiastically?

Donlon: Yes, colleagues have gotten behind both initiatives in a big way. Green Living is employee centered in the sense that it focuses entirely on energy savings and reductions in the homes of Pfizer colleagues. By focusing on matters that directly impact colleagues within the home  environment -- and positioning family and friends as key drivers of positive behavioral change from an energy consumption and renewable perspective within this sphere -- the Green Living initiative helps to influence and support positive behaviors which over time, in turn influence and support positive behavioral change in the workplace. This has definitely been the experience at Newbridge, where Green Living has enabled a change-oriented energy consumption perspective that aligns with, reinforces, and promotes the proactive engagement of colleagues within the workplace sphere and rallies their ongoing support of the Green Working initiative.

PhM: I understand that you’re evaluating using wood chips and wind power for means of alternative energy. What’s the latest on these activities, and could alternative energy eventually provide most or all of the site’s power? 

Dermot Doran (Energy Manager): We are evaluating the practical and financial feasibility of both renewable energy sources. At this stage, we have confirmed that replacing our natural gas boilers with biomass does not make economic sense given the current market conditions but we will continue to monitor the situation and are hopeful for the future. We are confident that the opportunity to utilize wind power on site will be more attractive and we are actively evaluating the potential for installing a wind turbine at this time.

PhM: You’ve also planted 10,000 native trees on the grounds of the site. How will these trees be used to benefit the site and the community?

Doran: Our Woodland “Plant & Pledge” initiative -- which saw colleagues and community members come together to help plant 10,000 native Irish trees on an area of the Newbridge site -- embodies the Pfizer-wide environmental sustainability commitment.  Internal and external stakeholders (including the Mayor of Newbridge, business, civic and community groups including Newbridge Chamber of Commerce and Newbridge Tidy Towns, as well as students, teachers and administrators from local schools) were invited to plant a tree.  As these trees mature and the woodland needs thinning out, the excess trees will be shared with colleagues and the wider local community for replanting. We already have a strong program in place for this kind of initiative and have helped the community with previous tree planting programs.

PhM: What successes have you had in water reduction or reuse and how significant are the cost savings of these water efforts (in addition to the environmental savings)?

Doran: To date, the site has confirmed an annual reduction in water consumption of 11% in 2011, (against the baseline year of 2009). This program is gathering momentum and we have used 30% less water in the first three months of this year as compared to the same period in 2009. The cost of water is not as significant for Newbridge as some other sites in the PGS network, but these efforts enable associated energy and chemical consumption reductions and have a positive overall impact on our environmental footprint.


PhM: Finally, what have we missed? Are there one or two other creative or unique aspects of the project that you’d like people to know about?

Donlon: Community engagement is a core component of Pfizer’s environmental sustainability strategy.  In addition to energizing students and teachers from local primary schools, the Newbridge site’s “YOU Have the Power” campaign has rooted itself in the local community by engaging and involving a cross section of influential external stakeholders including the Local Authority, Local Chamber of Commerce, Tidy Towns Group, and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. By showing leadership in this area, we have activated a potentially ever-expanding network of internal and external stakeholders to work towards a more sustainable community.


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