To that end, our Facilities group is continually working on ways to make our outdoor areas as sustainable and ecologically friendly as they are attractive. One such project is a natural meadow near one of our Cleveland campuses that is coming into bloom.
Meadows are ecological habitats populated by grass and other non-woody plants. Their open, sunny spaces attract and sustain a wide range of wildlife and vegetation, giving them shelter and space to gather food, nest, and reproduce. Meadows can occur naturally or be artificially created. In fact, as far back as pre-colonial times, Native American tribes would clear forested areas to produce temporary meadows where deer and other game could find food (and, in turn, be hunted).
A couple years ago, the Facilities group came up with the idea to turn the area into a meadow. Before Progressive built the campus, the land was home to a golf course, filled with a type of grass called bent grass that can be mowed really low, which is ideal for golfing. It tends to grow horizontally rather than vertically, hence the ‘bent’ name.
“Bent grass looks nice but requires frequent mowing—something that increases our carbon footprint” says Progressive Landscaping Manager Brian K. Smith. “Also, it’s not native to the Ohio area and, therefore, not a natural habitat for local animals and insects.”
So, converting this area to a meadow required patience and persistence from our Landscaping team. In 2015, the Facilities group removed 11 acres of the old turf, replacing it with fescue and perennial ryegrass, which are both native to the Midwest. They then began to periodically treat the surrounding, non-native grass with a special herbicide engineered to only affect certain species. This gave the new meadow grass a better opportunity to grow.
Two summer seasons in, the native grasses are beginning to overtake the old fairways. The team expects the area to be fully transformed into a natural meadow by 2017 – requiring only occasional mowing and integrated pest management, thereby reducing our carbon footprint.
It also will be a natural habitat for attracting beneficial wildlife, like pollinating insects and birds. Brian says that future efforts include incorporating more native plants, like milkweed, to attract honeybees and monarch butterflies.
Our Facilities group is proving that outdoor space at a corporate headquarters can feature more than just “pretty” landscaping. It can be sustainable and functional as well.less
In Spring 2016, we piloted a new approach to customer mailings. Our goal was to conserve paper and other resources while making information more visible to our customers and reducing operational complexity.
Currently, customer mailings are produced by our Creative Business Operations (CBO) organization at two internal facilities in Cleveland and Colorado Springs. Each handle two types of transactional mail, including the printing of documents, insertion and mailing.
The first type is what CBO calls “simple mail.” These include most routine policy documents like bills, signature forms, endorsement notices and memos. Simple mail pieces have a limited number of pages and pre-printed inserts in each envelope.
The other type is what CBO calls “complex mail.” These pieces have more pages per envelope, and typically more pre-printed inserts. Complex mail can also include items like ID cards, which are printed separately from—and require collation with—routine policy documents. Complex mail is supplemented by work done off-site by vendors, including special print projects and envelope printing.
So, what does it all mean? A typical mailing from Progressive traditionally contained a coverage summary, a couple of endorsement notices, an ID card, and three to five color inserts promoting services or additional coverages. It involved the work of multiple production lines and vendors. And, it uses a lot of paper and other resources.
And that’s why the pilot was intriguing. We tested a portion of a new, highly streamlined process that could have significant sustainability implications.
The test looked at eliminating most pre-printed inserts, replacing them with “onserts.” With onserts, promotional information typically included in a separate, pre-printed insert is instead printed on the existing white space of a routine policy document.
The five-week test was viewed as successful because it proved there is no difference in business customer performance between onserting or inserting a promotional message and met the stated resource conservation and customer information goals.
“Our goal is to simplify and get everything into one stream,” says Mark Malysa, business platform owner for external communications. “From a sustainability perspective, this approach could reduce the amount and variety of paper used, and reduce the waste often associated with printing inserts. It would also eliminate a large amount of the transportation involved in working with outside vendors and help us operate efficiently and avoid waste for years to come as the company continues to grow.”
We’re currently estimating the impact of the change on our overall operations and conducting additional tests and analyses before putting the new processes into production.less
In early 2016, Corporate Sourcing engaged Claims Control Data Analyst Henry Hwang to analyze employee coffee usage throughout our Claims organization.
Collectively, they recognized that our use of single-serve coffee makers could be negatively impacting the environment and wanted to do something about it. The single-serve coffee pods we used were non-recyclable or biodegradable, which means every cup of coffee brewed was generating a lot of plastic waste.
“I was shocked when I did the math,” says Henry. “Annually, our coffee pod usage was such that if we were to stack them singly, the stack would be approximately 22 miles high, which is high enough to skewer the ozone, and after seven years, be within the reach of the International Space Station’s orbit”
Henry reached out to our Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Wanda Shippy who then connected him with Carolyn Nogy, Claims’ Social Responsibility Advisory Board member. Together the team came up with recommendations that leveraged Henry’s analyses. Using the results of their research, Claims leadership decided to introduce a new, more sustainable employee coffee program, using drip-coffee machines, that would yield a positive effect on both company finances and the environment.
”Discontinuing use of non-recyclable pods at our locations may only have a small positive impact on the environment but I feel that every effort, no matter how small, contributes to protecting the environment,” Henry says. “At the end of the day, drip-coffees also taste better, are more environmentally friendly, and, on a per-cup basis, are about one-tenth the cost of individual coffee pods. It’s a triple win!
This is just one example of how the initiative and passion of one person can benefit all of us.less
In 2015, our California Social Responsibility team launched an environmental awareness campaign for employees titled “Changing Environmental Behaviors in the Workplace.” The month-long initiative, held in June, aimed to reduce environmental and financial costs in our business activities. The focus was on changing habits in four key areas: the office break room, paper use, work commutes and energy savings.
Throughout the month, employees received a weekly email covering one of those key areas. It included actionable tips and real-world examples of employees who were already embracing positive behaviors with good results. The email also shared data about the financial impact of these behaviors on the company.
“Often, we don’t realize that the everyday decisions we make in the workplace can have far-reaching effects on both company finances and the environment,” says Carolyn Nogy, claims casualty manager and California social responsibility team leader. “We challenged our employees to embrace some simple and small changes, making them permanent habits that make a difference.”
Embracing these changes led employees in California to take a broader look at how we do things.
In our claims offices, for instance, we’ve traditionally supplied paper and polystyrene cups, paper plates, paper bowls, and plastic utensils for use by employees or customers. As a result of the campaign, however, two offices are running a pilot in 2016 that’s looking at switching to reusable items. The hypothesis: The environmental and financial costs to buy and clean reusable items are lower than the costs to continually buy and discard disposable items.
“If we were to provide reusable tableware instead, the positive impact on the environment could be substantial,” says Carolyn.
Once we have pilot results, we’ll determine the potential for moving to reusable kitchenware in other offices in California and countrywide. One thing we know for sure: California employees share a passion for making Progressive a great place to work through socially responsible endeavors.less
Since 2007, we’ve reduced our annual regional electric consumption by 63,375,336 kWh*
To support our sustainability efforts, we donate PCs and office equipment to non-profit organizations for reuse.
Most of our recycling efforts are related to paper, glass, aluminum, plastic and cardboard.
See 2016 results for these efforts below.
Our Claims organization piloted a new sustainable coffee program being introduced in our Claims locations nationwide in 2017.
For America Recycles Day, the Real Estate and Facility Services organizations held events throughout the week of November 14th at large Progressive locations to recycle new and gently worn shoes, cold-weather gear, crayons, household batteries, CDs/DVDs, cell phones, and animal bedding. Items collected were donated to local organizations like Battery Solutions, Sub Zero Mission and PAWS for recycling or charitable purposes.
Progressive’s Real Estate group donated office supplies and furniture to organizations suggested by employees through the Donation Station. In 2016, we gave away over $3,400 worth of items to three charitable organizations and schools in northeast Ohio. Since inception, we’ve given away over $26,200 worth of items to 19 charitable organizations and schools 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.
Progressive donated 814 computers, laptops and monitors to 24 schools and charitable organizations around the country in 2016 at an estimated value of more than $68,800. Since inception, the program has donated over 2,700 computers, laptops, and monitors to 75 schools and charitable organizations around the country at an estimated value of more than $315,000,000.
In 2016, we recycled 14,906 pounds of ink and toner cartridges and reused 5,253 pounds of ink and toner cartridges through UpCycle.
Our efforts to run an environmentally responsible business once again put us in Newsweek’s Green Rankings. The popular online magazine ranked us among the best of the U.S.’s largest companies based on our corporate sustainability and impact on the environment.
We continue to encourage customers to go paperless, where they choose to access policy documents online rather than receiving paper in the mail. In 2016, due to our efforts to encourage a paperless customer experience, we avoided mailing about 2.8 million pounds of paper.