Johnson Controls Touts Environmental Leadership, Green Design in 2011

Johnson Controls has long been touted as a sustainability leader and progressive company. The manufacturing and technology company touches our lives in ways that may not be obvious but are nonetheless important, from car batteries for conventional and hybrid automobiles to buildings’ heating and cooling systems. From the smallest office building to the Empire State Building, the chances are that you are in an environment touched by a Johnson Controls product.

But, in addition to the creation of the gadgets and systems that allow buildings and vehicles to operate, Johnson Controls is working on making those products better and more efficient. Meanwhile the Milwaukee based company has a record as a solid corporate citizen, model for transparency and corporate governance and leader in green building. The $40 billion company with 162,000 employees across the globe builds on its track record with the release of its 2011 Business and Sustainability Report.

Highlights of Johnson Controls’ 2011 Report include:

Environmental sustainability: The company rolled out an environmental scorecard in 2009 to measure its performance against six metrics: energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, waste diversion, ISO 14001 compliance, and sustainable design. With the exception of its waste output, all of the metrics saw an improvement in performance over 2010 levels. Johnson Controls is currently managing 370 energy efficiency projects; half have been completed and saved the company $5 million in energy costs.

Green design:  Johnson Controls’ “design for sustainability” review process has its origins in 1883 when Warren Johnson invented the electric room thermostat. Almost 130 years later, the company embeds sustainability thinking in all facets of its products’ design. Currently the company is testing a lifecycle assessment tool to estimate the energy and carbon content in all of its products.  Johnson Controls is also a global leader in battery recycling. Its power solutions division opened a new battery recycling center in South Carolina and is investing $70 million in another facility in Mexico.

Engaged employees: The performance of Johnson Controls’ employees and their commitment to the communities in which they work reflect the investment the company makes in its global staff. Employees donated 150,000 hours while the company contributed $15.5 million to local communities and organizations. Almost 85 percent of those donated funds went to social services, education and arts programs. Diversity is also practiced within the company and throughout its supply chain: 14 percent of Johnson Controls’ executives are minorities and the company committed $1.68 billion to supplier diversity.

Supply chain management: Any company with 300,000 suppliers around the world has a huge task at hand in ensuring that their suppliers conduct business in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The company maintains a bevy of assessments to monitor their vendors, and to that end, over 140 of the firm’s largest suppliers submitted data to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Johnson Controls’ initiatives at present involved working with its supply chain on waste disposal, recycling, purchasing clean energy and the reduction of logistics-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Ranking number one in Corporate Responsibility magazine’s ranking and consistently landing on “best places to work” rankings does not happen in a vacuum. Learn more about what is behind Johnson Controls’ sustainability performance and corporate social responsibility initiatives, starting with its disclosures using the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) framework.

Leon Kaye is a journalist, sustainability consultant and the editor of He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo of Johnson Controls Headquarters in Milwaukee courtesy Johnson Controls Press Room.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

One response

  1. Since 2008, spent lead
    acid batteries (SLAB) exports to Mexico have risen by 326 percent. This issue
    involves environmental issues, global health concerns, domestic business
    interests, the loss of U.S. jobs, and a failure by local, state, and federal
    governments to take an interest where and how the spent batteries from their
    fleets and those they collect in municipal waste streams are recycled.
    Unfortunately, Johnson Controls is the largest exporter of SLABs to Mexico and
    will keep that title with their $70 million investment in a new recycling
    facility being built in Mexico.


    According to June 2011 report by Occupational Knowledge
    International, lead emissions from Mexican recyclers are 20 times higher than
    comparable U.S. recyclers and blood lead levels in Mexican workers are five
    times higher than their domestic counterparts. Why, therefore, are companies
    like Johnson Controls shipping batteries to and recycling batteries in Mexico?
    Additionally, there is no evidence that Johnson Controls adheres to Mexican
    regulations since they do not submit reports to the Mexican government nor have
    they invited in 3rd party inspectors. For a company that touts
    itself a “model for transparency,” it’s imperative that they produce that
    evidence immediately … or better yet, immediately halt all exportation of SLABs
    to Mexico.

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