Each day we strive to take innovative steps to reduce our dependence on natural resources and operate efficiently in all aspects of our business. In our view, reducing our environmental footprint—and pursuing energy and resource savings in the process—is the right thing to do for our stakeholders and the environment. Our Real Estate and Corporate Services team manages our environmental stewardship efforts and guides the strategies we utilize to effectively manage our buildings, equipment, and fleet. We report on our environmental efforts to help our stakeholders understand the steps we take and the progress we’ve made.
We continue to seek investments in facilities, equipment, and company vehicles that are increasingly energy and fuel-efficient to support better environmental outcomes while also reducing the costs that our customers ultimately bear. By taking action to reduce the environmental impact of our business operations, we believe that we can not only be responsible environmental stewards, but also create sustainable business value and enhance our resilience.
Energy and Carbon Emissions Management
At Progressive, we’re working to reduce our carbon emissions through a combination of initiatives, including investments in renewable energy, more energy- and fuel-efficient vehicles, and building infrastructure. Over a decade ago, we embarked on an ambitious journey to reduce energy consumption and maximize the use of our office space. We invested in building automation systems to adjust heating, cooling, and lighting based on occupancy, and replaced building infrastructure with more energy-efficient equipment.
Recently, we’ve expanded our green energy investments, including purchasing solar panels and green energy. In 2020, we negotiated a renewable energy agreement with a wind farm in Pennsylvania, which will supply power for sites served by the PJM wholesale energy exchange (covering several states generally in the eastern region of the United States). We expect this agreement to meaningfully reduce our electricity-related carbon emissions. We also initiated a project to install a 1.8-megawatt solar panel array at one our main campus locations in Cleveland, Ohio. "When the array is completed in 2021, we expect it will reduce the site’s emissions by 1,500 metric tons per year and help us generate a meaningful return on our investment through energy cost savings over time. Our renewable energy initiatives and investments in energy- and fuel-efficient facilities, equipment, and company vehicles create shared value for our business and stakeholders, supporting our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and pass along cost savings to our customers.
Our Emissions Reductions
Our carbon emissions-related initiatives and investments contribute to our continued progress in reducing emissions. In 2020, we achieved a 31% reduction in carbon emissions per million policies in force (PIFs) compared to 2019 levels. While we surpassed our goal of achieving a 68% reduction in carbon emissions per million PIFs compared to 2008 levels by 2022, we recognize that COVID-19 impacts contributed significantly to achieving this milestone. Excluding COVID-19 related impacts, we believe we were on track to successfully achieve our goal by the stated 2022 timeframe. As the return to normalcy occurs, we will continue to evaluate progress against our goal while being mindful of evolving trends. Our focus on increasing efficiencies to reduce emissions and lower operational costs remains unwavering.
Carbon Emissions 2008-2020
Includes carbon emissions from electricity and natural gas consumption and fuel used by fleet vehicles, company aircraft, and generators. The volume of carbon emissions from these sources have been estimated using actual real estate portfolio information and industry standard calculation methods. Starting in 2015, business airline and rental car travel have been included, using data provided by our contracted vendors.
Responsible Waste Management
We’re committed to reducing and responsibly managing waste generated by our operations. To reduce waste we send to landfills, we established robust recycling programs for office paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic and glass bottles at our campus locations. As a result of these initiatives, approximately 25% of the waste collected at our campuses was diverted from landfills to recycling centers in 2020. We also recently reduced our use of plastic by eliminating plastic straws and utensils in our Progressive Café campus locations and break areas. We eliminated polystyrene food containers in our Café locations and replaced plastic utensils and polystyrene food packaging with compostable options. Polystyrene materials that could not be easily replaced with a compostable option (primarily IT packaging) are compacted and recycled.
While we typically host annual campaigns for Environmental Awareness Week and America Recycles Day to build awareness among our employees about responsible resource consumption and disposal strategies, we postponed our events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate reinstating these events in future years.
Paper Reduction Efforts
We pride ourselves in pursuing initiatives to reduce paper usage. We began to introduce paperless policies over a decade ago, and more than 70% of our personal auto policyholders were enrolled in our paperless policy program as of the end of 2020. In addition, we’ve implemented other paper reduction strategies by offering e-signatures for policy documents and enabling customers to print their own ID cards or access them directly through the Progressive mobile app. We’ve also invested in virtual collaboration tools that reduce the amount of paper we use for internal communications.