Picking Green Fruit at Pfizer

Sept. 29, 2009
Pfizer is recognized as a clear leader in environmental stewardship. We talk with Chaz Calitri, senior director of Pfizer Global Engineering, about low-hanging fruit in energy management and what’s yet to be reached.

PhM: The pharmaceutical industry is recognized as a leader in corporate energy policy. Why do you think this is?

C.C.: Generally speaking, pharmaceutical companies have a mission to improve the health and quality of people’s lives, and this is certainly the case at Pfizer. It is logical that this mission extends to everything we do including making our operations as energy efficient as possible in order to reduce our environmental impact to the communities in which we operate.  

PhM: Is there still a lot of “low-hanging fruit” for energy savings, or, are you now having to get more sophisticated to find and realize these savings?

C.C.: We do still see some low-hanging fruit in our operations.  Keep in mind that Pfizer’s global manufacturing network is not stagnant. New sites come into the network and from time to time we retire or divest sites. At the same time, we are also becoming more sophisticated. For example, we have developed reliability-based maintenance programs that make our assets more reliable and in turn minimize redundancy and enable more efficient operation.

PhM: Energy efficiency is a way to reduce operating expenses, of course. Have you improved your monitoring of energy costs, and thus your ability to quantify savings? Please comment.

C.C.: I believe that we have become more consistent in the methodologies that we use to track savings. Pfizer is a global company, and I’m sure you can imagine many different methods and protocols that can exist to track any parameter. What we have done is reduce that complexity by follow protocols such as those developed by the World Resource Institute; doing so has also enabled us to benchmark externally.

PhM: How are you gaining better insight into energy usage in different parts of your facilities or for different processes? Have you invested in new technologies, or are you taking advantage of information and technologies that were already at your disposal?

C.C.: We’re still working to improve methods of tracking and trending energy.  Some sites in our network are very sophisticated, but most still use a hybrid of manual and automated systems. Our ultimate goal is to be able to track all of the sites centrally in real time.  I am not aware of any companies of our size that do this today; however, we believe that this long-range goal is reasonable and achievable.

PhM: Does your company have any way to measure employee awareness and adherence to corporate energy initiatives? If so, please share some general data if possible.

C.C.: This has been a major focus over the past year. If we can mobilize every Pfizer colleague to be more conscious of energy use (and energy waste), we will realize tremendous energy savings and accompanying business benefits. The benefits to Pfizer colleagues will carry over into their personal lives and have an even larger benefit. We are currently using our blog, newsletters, and special events at sites, (such as the one coming up at our Freiburg, Germany site called “Pfizer Goes Green”) to communicate essential energy messages to colleagues. The feedback has been great; colleagues are interested, supportive and enthusiastic about minimizing energy usage and maximizing energy savings. As for Pfizer’s engineering teams, energy metrics are embedded in their performance goals. 

PhM: Has your company gotten better at rewarding employees who help further your green or energy-saving efforts? We would welcome an example or two.

C.C.: We have awards for Technology and Innovation that recognize projects including those for energy demand reduction. We have a robust Green Building Awards program that recognizes quarterly and annual achievements, as well as EHS Star Awards which include energy efficiency as a criteria.  Pfizer is also unique in that our senior leaders put a lot of value in the work colleagues do in the area of energy conservation.  Having that kind of support is great for our programs.  Look, everyone can make an energy difference and at Pfizer, colleagues are getting behind that message in a big way. 

PhM: Compliance has been a reason (real or imagined) for manufacturers not to retrofit facilities and improve energy management and efficiency. Is compliance less of a barrier today than it was a few years ago? Why might that be?

C.C.:  The real issue here concerns the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest energy consumers—HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning.  Pfizer’s standards—for cleanliness, safety, to protect against cross contamination, and for products with sensitivity to the environment—are stringent and conservative; so it’s probably not surprising that we took a measured approach that evaluated, for example, whether the work required to perform a change to a manufacturing environment exceeded the perceived benefit.  Our approach has improved as we’ve addressed the cost of energy and the impact of Green House Gases, as well as developed ways to more accurately measure risk and use that knowledge to confidently make changes. We are not actually taking any more risk—we have just gotten better at defining risk and managing it.