Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big changes START with small steps—Masdar is a role model for sustainable business practices

Masdar’s START initiative provides employees with the knowhow to make better decisions about conserving energy and protecting the environment

Abu Dhabi, UAE (29 December 2010) – Finding a roadmap for sustainability is a core value of Masdar’s long-term economic vision, and the journey begins internally with its employees. “The START initiative,” Masdar’s employee sustainability campaign, teaches that change happens at the individual level with better decision making and environmentally-conscientious lifestyles. Masdar encourages its employees to be aware and accountable of the environmental impacts of their everyday actions, and the START initiative is a constant reminder.

Masdar’s sustainability framework is designed to integrate economic, environmental, and social considerations into Masdar’s corporate strategy, daily operations and internal culture. The sustainability framework is a structured approach to thinking about the risks and opportunities of sustainability. The framework is comprised of four primary components: Masdar strategic sustainability goals, the organisational factors driving sustainability behaviour, identification of relevant sustainability themes and issues and identification of the key sustainability performance enablers.

The START initiative’s most recent efforts included a week-long sustainability awareness campaign for Masdar staff.  Recently, nearly 200 Masdar staff signed a “sustainability pledge” and committed to promoting and living a more sustainable lifestyle. During the week, the campaign focused on key sustainability areas — waste, water, energy, and transport — providing staff with practical solutions to make significant change. For example, during the second day dedicated to water, Masdar displayed a compelling visualization that compared the amount of water used for a conventional, single car wash against a waterless carwash solution. On average a “driveway” car wash consumes 300 litres per wash while a “drive-thru” consumes 110 litres per wash.  The “water-less” solution only uses 200 milliliters of water per wash and relies mainly on environmentally friendly cleaning agents.

“While the world waits for mass-scale integration of renewable energy, and game-changing innovations in clean technology, as individuals we are in a position to minimise our impacts on the environment and to reduce our demands for energy by making better decisions,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “Climate change and energy security are real issues, and it’s time for businesses to adapt and recognise the importance of being sustainable. The START initiative ensures that we at Masdar are following these principles, as we help transform Abu Dhabi to a knowledge-based economy rooted in the commercialisation of renewable energy and clean technology innovations.

“START is integral part of Masdar’s overall commitment to being the global leader in renewable energy and clean technology innovation and to its local commitment to living sustainably” said Dr. Al-Hosany, associate director of sustainability at Masdar. “We hope START serves as a template for other organisations in Abu Dhabi and beyond to further develop a culture that integrates sustainability as a key corporate value.”

The START initiative is more than just education, it is about measurable results.  Masdar recently integrated smart meters to monitor energy consumption. Water, waste, as well as carbon emissions associated with staff commute are being measured and published as well. Integrated within the Masdar Sustainable Administration Facilities, the system will be used to gauge behaviour changes and identify a calculable index for Masdar’s sustainability.

An additional incentive to this initiative, which companies across the world should focus on, is that operating more sustainably greatly impacts their financial bottom line. Where money is saved on using fewer resources it can be invested elsewhere. This helps organisations meet their core business targets and facilitate wider economic growth, thus supporting financial sustainability.

“Fresh water is a precious resource, especially in the Middle East, and we need to make better decisions about how we use it in our daily lives,” said Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany. “START teaches valuable lessons about our choices, and also presents real alternatives, such as the waterless carwash, so that we can be better citizens of this planet. Sometimes this is as simple as being aware of the options available and the consequences of our actions.”

Dr. Al-Hosany is a recognized leader in sustainability, and was recently elected a member of the General Secretariat of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG)—a membership organisation whose mission is to promote sustainability management in Abu Dhabi by providing learning and knowledge sharing opportunities for all organisations in the spirit of cooperation and open dialogue.

About Masdar
Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s multi-faceted initiative advancing the development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable and alternative energy technologies and solutions. The company serves as a link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy economy of the future - developing the “greenprint” for how we will live and work tomorrow. Backed by the stability and reputation of the Mubadala Development Company, an investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the emirate’s long-term vision for the future of energy.

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