Aizu Olympus Implements Long-Term Practical Measures to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

March 2024

Focus Area 5: Carbon Neutral Society and Circular Economy

The Olympus Group set a target of achieving carbon neutrality in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities to virtually zero by 2030 and is accelerating the switch to electricity generated from renewable energy for use at global business sites. This time, we present the initiatives of Aizu Olympus, a company that is undertaking advanced greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts in the Group.

photo:Masako Watanobe

Masako Watanobe

EHS Group, Human Resources Department, Aizu Olympus Co., Ltd.
Started working for Aizu Olympus in 2007. After working in recruiting, employee training, diversity promotion, CSR, and other areas, was appointed associate manager of the EHS (Environment Health Safety)  Group, which was established in April 2023.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions through both capital investment and steady day-to-day measures

Q. Please describe some of the measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that Aizu Olympus has taken so far, and what led to the company taking those measures.

A. We started to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in response to opinions voiced by employees when the company’s building  was rebuilt.

Aizu Olympus acquired ISO 14001 certification in 1998 and has continued to carry out various environmentally conscious measures to the present day. When constructing the new building, we reinforced measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to opinions voiced by employees. Air conditioning and related equipment used at manufacturing sites account for 40% of Aizu Olympus' total power consumption. For this reason, we installed a “Cool Heat Trench,” which uses the stable underground temperature for air conditioning and increased the efficiency of air conditioning systems. It was a state-of-the-art system at the time. The greenhouse gas emissions reduction effects of Cool Heat Trench are 16 tons annually, an amount equivalent to the absorption of approximately 1,163 cedar trees. In addition, a “water thermal storage system” that uses nighttime electricity to store energy and uses it for air conditioning during working hours was also introduced to flatten regional electricity demand.
Moreover, 600 solar panels were also installed at that time with the aim of supplying the power used at the site. Additional panels were installed in 2016, bringing the total to approximately 1,600 today. The greenhouse gas reduction effects from the generation of electricity using solar power totals 123 tons annually, equivalent to about 8,800 cedar trees.

How the ”Cool Heat Trench” works

Q. I see that as a result of these efforts, the building became a low environmental impact structure. What other measures has the company undertaken?

A. We are implementing steady measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the cooperation of employees.

With the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we introduced bus commuting in 2009. While giving consideration to individual circumstances, 330 employees, or about 20% of the total workforce, commute by bus, which has low environmental impact. We are also cooperating with the trial introduction of an automated dispatching system that makes use of this bus commuting by Aizu Olympus. A similar system is being introduced in the Aizu area, leading to contributions to the local community. We also undertake a variety of other measures to naturally reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our day-to-day lives, such as turning off lights during lunch breaks and switching off display screens when away from one’s desk.

Employee familiarity with environmental initiatives leads to the promotion of activities

Q. What do you think is important when undertaking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the organization?

A. It is important to raise the environmental awareness of each employee.

This is an issue that we commonly see in everyday life, and the environmental awareness of each employee is important. Unless we work to enhance understanding of what results our personal actions produce, we cannot promote measures. To address this, at Aizu Olympus, we started periodically disseminating information on energy saving, using water from expired disaster preparedness supplies to water plants, and making planters from plastic bottles and giving them to employees who want them. Incidentally, the compost used in the planter sets is made from leftover food from the cafeteria. We undertake activities while posting electronic signs in the cafeteria about this information and these initiatives. All of the planters that we make are taken home the same day, and the response has been ever greater than we anticipated. I believe that it is important to start by raising the familiarity of employees with our environmental initiatives.
At the same time, as a person responsible for EHS (Environment Health Safety), I make decisions on the need for investment from a medium- to long-term perspective, and we are also making capital investment in consultation with the relevant parties to implement environmental improvements.

Q. What plans and aspirations does Aizu Olympus have for reducing greenhouse gas emissions even further in the future?

A. We want to accelerate our initiatives by collaborating with the local community and other Group sites.

We plan to switch from the city gas and LP gas that we currently use to carbon neutral gas in April 2024. By doing this, 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions that Aizu Olympus emits will be carbon neutral. There are still some buildings that use fluorescent lights, so in conjunction with this change, we will be switching to LED lighting equipment in stages.
We are also looking into new initiatives including the use of lower-carbon energy sources and installing chargers for electric vehicles. Aizu Olympus is a company that plays important roles in the Aizu area, and consequently, we want to accelerate our initiatives in collaboration with the city and prefecture. There are new issues that the Olympus Group is attempting to address in cooperation with other sites to solve shared problems. There are still many issues that we want to address and can address.

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