Insuring a Better Future

Being Sustainable

We continue to make strides in energy conservation, reducing paper use, recycling and other areas with the help of our customers and those we work with.

Engineering
Chiller plant improvements at one of our Tampa, FL, offices nearly paid for themselves in the same year in terms of energy costs.

Cool energy savings in a warm climate

We reported last year how we’re installing free cooling systems in many of our campuses and larger buildings to conserve energy. In most cases, we’ve cut energy use significantly.
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Free cooling works well in cooler climates. That’s an advantage for our Cleveland headquarters and Colorado Springs office. It’s less effective, though, in places like Tampa—home of one of our main campuses. There, the annual average temperature is about 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

But that fact hasn’t stopped our Real Estate Engineering team from finding other ways to conserve energy.

In 2014, the Engineering team collaborated with the Tampa Facilities team to improve the chiller plant (think industrial-sized air conditioner) at one of our large offices in Tampa. The effort included:

Installing additional valves to limit water flow to each of the chiller plant’s three cooling towers when a tower’s capacity isn’t needed.

Installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) on the cooling tower fans. These provide greater speed control, allowing fans to be run more efficiently.

Reprogramming the cooling towers to operate based on “wet bulb temperature” (the cooling capacity of the air given the temperature and humidity… a more educated explanation here). This helps them run more efficiently.

Modifying water flow in other parts of the chiller plant, saving energy.

The team completed this work in June 2014. By year’s end, the improvements had nearly paid for themselves in terms of energy costs—beating the expected 15-month payback period by several months.

What about energy?

Through the end of 2014, the improvements saved 465,975 kWh of electricity. That’s a 16 percent savings compared to the plant’s three-year average energy use. Based on the initial results and historical data, we predict the Tampa chiller plant improvements to net 910,200 kWh of savings annually.

We plan to implement many of the Tampa chiller plant engineering solutions to our other large facilities in the future.

Read about other ways our Real Estate Engineering team has been working to conserve energy at Progressive.

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Workspace Design
New workspace design options encourage collaboration and give employees flexibility based on job needs.

New workspace design promotes sustainable practices

Several of Progressive’s business groups embraced our emerging workplace strategy (EWS)—and a new style of work environment—in 2014.
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EWS encourages a more collaborative and flexible workspace. It’s also more sustainable, allowing for increased occupancy and efficiency.

Walk into an EWS space, and you’ll notice a few things, such as:

multiple collaborative areas and flexible workstations to support knowledge sharing;

lower cubicle panels that increase access to natural light;

small collaborative spaces with multiple electrical outlets for laptops and phones;

individual workspaces that can be assigned or unassigned, giving employees the option to choose the space that best supports their needs each day – without being tethered to a space, a device or a phone; and

unassigned enclaves that anyone can use for private meetings or individual work.

EWS began taking shape about six years ago as a grassroots effort. “We knew the future was coming and we needed to be prepared,” says Sally Frye, Progressive’s director of Real Estate Services. “We wanted to update our environment to attract, accommodate and retain employees.”

Seeing the benefits of workspace changes

Currently, 1,884 people in our Cleveland locations work in EWS environments. Those areas have an occupancy rate of 98 percent.

“We want to be flexible, nimble and progressive about the design space. Our job is to help employees do their jobs better. If that’s not the outcome of a space redesign, then we missed the mark,” says Denise Elliott, process consultant.

Feedback has been positive as business and employee interest continues to drive this cultural change.

“My group’s new workspace design is fantastic,” says Todd Kravos, senior IT business systems analyst. “For me, the real winner is the increased amount of natural light. Ditching the drab gunmetal gray cube walls in favor of a natural color scheme allows the natural light to make a big impact.”

Adds Sally, “Our goal is to provide a multi-faceted workspace that people can take advantage of based on the work they need to do that day. We’re creating a better employee experience while optimizing our real estate footprint.”

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Paperless
Progressive continues to be a leader in bringing paperless options, such as electronic insurance ID cards, to consumers.

Continued progress for our paperless efforts

For our goal to reduce paper use, 2014 was a year of steady progress.
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Most of our efforts focused on expanding customers’ options to get policy documents electronically, rather than by mail.

Extending our paperless policy option to more product lines
We started offering a paperless policy option in 2007. Today, nearly 6 million customers have chosen it. That’s an increase of about a half million, compared to 2013. The growth was driven partly by our extending the option in 2014 to our Boat, Motorcycle and RV products.

We also wrapped up work with state insurance regulators to make paperless policies legal in four out of the five states that have prohibited them: New York, New Jersey, Texas and West Virginia (Hawaii remains a holdout). We expect to offer the option in those states in the near future.

Improving the paperless experience

Policy ID cards (“proof of insurance”) have presented an opportunity for us to make the paperless experience even better for customers. They’re often the one thing customers want the minute they buy a policy. Yet, we only offered a temporary ID at the point of sale.

In 2014, we worked on an update that gives customers a chance to access their permanent ID card (and print it, if they like) as they buy their policy. That elevated in early 2015.

Increasing acceptance of electronic ID cards

We also elevated an electronic version of the ID card (eID) to our iOS and Android apps in 2014.

At the end of the year, eID was legal in 40 states. That’s up from 24 at the end of 2013. So, in those states, law enforcement now accepts eID as proof of insurance during traffic stops, for instance.

Progressive’s been a leader in the eID story, which we started telling in our 2012 report.

We’ve gone state-by-state—working with law enforcement, insurance regulators and legislators—to modify laws giving consumers this additional choice. It’s another paperless regulatory win!

Our work toward being paperless is a cornerstone of our sustainability efforts. We’re proud of our progress. And, we have even more planned for 2015 and beyond.

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Donation Station
Employees can recommend charitable organizations to receive office supplies and PC donations through Progressive’s Donation Station.

Computers and office supplies get a second life

Technology is today’s pencil and paper. Students need to learn how to effectively use it to have the best shot at success in the working world. And yet, faced with stretched-thin budgets, many schools across the country struggle to put current technology in classrooms.
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Through a computer donation program, Progressive employees are helping schools overcome that struggle.

Imagine how much computer equipment an organization the size of Progressive uses. Our 26,000 employees rely daily on laptops, desktop PCs, printers, monitors and more. And, we periodically upgrade equipment to make sure employees have what they need to do their jobs efficiently.

We’ve donated computer equipment to schools in the past at the corporate level. But in 2014, we introduced an online tool—called Donation Station—that employees can use to nominate schools and charitable organizations in need of equipment.

Donation results

Through Donation Station, we’ve donated more than 1,000 computers, laptops and monitors to 28 organizations around the country at an estimated value of more than $170,000.

Donated computers may not have the latest processors, but they’re still high-functioning machines that can help students build the technology foundation needed for success. We work with Arrow Electronics, Inc. to refurbish and repurpose the machines for their new uses.

When available, we also donate retired office supplies and furniture to organizations suggested by employees through the Donation Station. So far, we have given away $19,675 worth of items to 11 organizations in northeast Ohio.

“As part of our STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education efforts, we try to support educational organizations first, then give to others based on supply and demand,” says Wanda Shippy, Progressive’s social responsibility and community outreach manager. “Similar to our Progressive Insurance Foundation philosophy, we contribute to organizations that employees choose to support within their communities.”

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ink and toner cartridge recycling
With UpCycle, Progressive now gets detailed tracking of office printing activities to improve efficiencies.

New program improves ink and toner cartridge recycling efforts

Each year in North America, people throw away more than 375 million empty ink and toner cartridges. Most end up in landfills or incinerators. If you put all of them end to end, they’d circle the Earth more than three times. The type of plastic used in printer cartridges can take between 450 to 1,000 years to decompose.*
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Since 2002, Progressive has recycled printer ink and toner cartridges to avoid contributing to these statistics. In 2014, we improved our recycling process to make it even simpler for employees to use, and easier for the company to track progress.

We introduced a new companywide program, called UpCycle, that’s centrally managed and easy to use. UpCycle is provided by Clover Technologies through Progressive’s partnership with OfficeMax and Corporate United.

Through UpCycle, every Progressive location across the country can recycle ink and toner cartridges, and any other disposable consumables we use for office printers or faxes—regardless of supplier or manufacturer—using one process.

“In the past, we used the various recycling programs provided by our multiple print-supply vendors,” says Ann Corwin, Sourcing manager. “It was difficult to manage and communicate various processes and almost impossible to track results.”

With a single program, we now have access to detailed activity tracking for greater visibility of our recycling habits. We can also create sustainability reports that help us measure the positive impact our recycling efforts have on the environment.

In 2014, we recycled 13,235 pounds of ink and toner cartridges through UpCycle (about half of which were able to be reused). This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 1,798.65 gallons of gasoline consumed.

This new program complements our ongoing initiative to better manage printer ink, toner and paper use, which was highlighted in our 2013 report article on environment and efficiency gains with multi-functional devices (MFDs).

Collectively, these efforts help Progressive employees better understand the role we all have in protecting the precious resources we share.

*Source: http://www.agreenerrefill.com/The-Benefits-of-Recycling

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conserving energy at our facilities
HVAC motion controls in Cleveland training center classrooms operate lighting more efficiently based on occupancy.

Engineering our way to a lower carbon footprint

Our Real Estate Engineering team is a group of mechanical and electrical engineers and automation experts charged with finding smart ways to conserve energy in our facilities. Its “lab” includes Progressive’s six campuses, two data centers, 67 Service Centers and 280 other offices across the country.
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The team’s most significant energy-efficiency project in 2014—in terms of both investment and results—was a series of improvements to the chiller plant at one of our large offices in Tampa, Florida.

Beyond that, the team continued its scientific approach to optimizing energy use. Projects included evaluating new technologies and finding ways to make existing equipment more efficient.

Here are a few highlights from 2014.

LED evaluation—The team began retrofitting LED fixtures to spaces lit by older lighting technologies. This happened mostly where it could be done cost effectively: We have to balance the cost of fixtures, electricity and labor. But, the cost/benefit math started to work more and more frequently, especially in newly constructed sites. So, Progressive employees and customers now see some workspaces, common spaces and exterior areas like parking lots lit by LED. They can expect to see more in 2015.

HVAC by motion control—It’s one thing to optimize the climate in a typical office. You can predict that people will be in the building—and will want to be comfortable—Monday through Friday during business hours. It gets a little trickier in a training center. Classrooms could be booked one day and empty the next. So, the Engineering team and the HVAC team tested a reprogramming of the HVAC controls to use the same motion sensors that operate classroom lighting. We did this in a Cleveland training center in 2014. Based on its effectiveness there, we’ll consider this for other training centers in 2015.

Campus air-handler reprogramming—The team took a fresh look at the large air handlers installed during the original construction of one of our Cleveland campuses between 1999 and 2004. The unit was designed by its manufacturer with two fans that run in tandem. It worked well when demand was high and both fans ran at high speed, but was far less efficient during lower-demand times. The team modified the air handler’s programming so one fan shuts down when demand is low. This allows the entire unit to run more efficiently. We plan to reprogram air handlers at other facilities.

Smarter fresh air exchange—The team piloted carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors at one of our Cleveland campuses. Precise monitoring of CO2 levels in a building lets us better manage the amount of outdoor air we need to pump in to meet OSHA requirements for air quality. It also reduces the amount of energy required to condition the air in the building. Pilot results have been positive, so we want to expand CO2 monitors to other facilities.

You might not expect to find a team of engineers and automation experts embedded in an insurance company. But just such a team is a key driver of energy conservation at Progressive.

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Tons of Company Vehicle Emissions by Year

Since recording company vehicle carbon emissions in 2008, carbon emissions have been reduced by 6,530 tons.


Our Energy Consumption

Since 2007, we've reduced our total energy consumption by 237,841,872 kWh (22%).


Recycling Results

Most of our recycling efforts are related to paper, glass, aluminum, plastic and cardboard. 2014 results for these efforts are noted below.

A team of Real Estate employees planted 21 trees and 44 bushes in a community area in Mayfield Village, Ohio.

A group of Information Technology employees built a fence and winterized the grounds at Shore Cultural Center in Euclid, Ohio.

A group of 42 employees built gardens for the residents of Marbridge Farms, an adult assisted living facility in South Austin, Texas, for people with mental challenges.

Progressive’s Real Estate group donated office supplies and furniture to organizations suggested by employees through the Donation Station. We have given away $19,675 worth of items to 11 organizations in northeast Ohio.

For Environmental Awareness Week in April, employees participated in educational activities around the company to learn ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle and help make a difference in the environment and our communities.

Facilities piloted carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors at one of our Cleveland campuses to better manage the amount of outdoor air needed internally per OSHA requirements for air quality. The monitors help to reduce the amount of energy required to condition the air in the building.

For America Recycles Day in November, the Real Estate and Facility Services organizations held events at large Progressive locations to recycle new and gently worn shoes, cold-weather gear, crayons, household batteries, CDs/DVDs, cell phones, eyeglasses and more. Items collected were donated to local organizations for recycling or charitable purposes.

We continued to increase customer mobile engagement to reduce dependency on paper-based documentation. Offerings included digital legal ID cards, a checking account payment option and access to policy documents.

Progressive has donated more than 1,000 computers, laptops and monitors to 28 organizations (primarily schools) around the country at an estimated value of more than $170,000.

In 2014, we recycled 13,235 pounds of ink and toner cartridges through UpCycle (about half of which were able to be reused). This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 1,798.65 gallons of gasoline consumed.

Where it could be done cost effectively, the Facilities group replaced older lighting technologies with new LED fixtures.

In the Cleveland training center, the Engineering team and the HVAC team reprogrammed HVAC controls to add sensors that determine heating/cooling needs based on room occupancy.

The Engineering team collaborated with the Tampa Facilities team to improve the chiller plant at one of our large offices in Tampa. Improvements saved 465,975 kWh of electricity in 2014.