Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We aim to minimize our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by leveraging efficient technologies and renewable energy sources. Examples include:

Sustainable Headquarters in Weston

In 2010, we moved our headquarters from Cambridge to a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified 75-acre campus in Weston, MA. Take a virtual tour.

Cambridge: 2010 Sustainability Leadership Award

The Biogen Idec Sustainability Award honors employees who introduce improved environmental practices and community programs that support Biogen Idec’s commitment to excellence and leadership in sustainability. The Corporate Sustainability Council, headed by CEO George A. Scangos, selects the award recipient each year. Our 2010 winning Cambridge team reduced energy and water use by installing a two-stage, steam-fired, 600-ton absorption chiller to serve Buildings 6 and 6A. The absorption chiller captures and leverages waste steam from the cogeneration plant to help cool the buildings. This additional capacity eliminates the need to run electric chillers on all but the hottest summer days. The use of previously wasted heat also saves the company approximately $425,000 per year in combined utility costs. In honor of our winners, Biogen Idec issued a financial donation on behalf of our employees to the Charles River Watershed Association in Massachusetts to support a cleaner local environment.

HVAC Fan Wall Retrofit in Cambridge

One of our Cambridge buildings relies upon an air-handling unit to condition and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.  

In 2010, we replaced the existing air handler mechanicals, which relied on two fans, with a modular array of 10 new small fans. The new system delivers the same performance while using 55 percent less electricity and saving approximately $75,000 per year. Furthermore, if one fan fails, it can quickly be replaced without affecting operations, and the unit can run smoothly on eight of the 10 fans, reducing the impact to operations from a fan failure.

Chilled Water System Upgrades Supporting Research Triangle Park Manufacturing Facilities

Both our small and large-scale manufacturing facilities depend on chilled water for temperature control of the manufacturing suites. The heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system uses chilled water to help maintain a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit temperature in support of the manufacturing processes. In 2010, the maintenance team identified a number of opportunities to increase the efficiency of the chilled water system, including:

  • Rebalance the existing system: The chilled water flowing through the system and equipment was rebalanced to fully utilize the water’s cooling capacity. This required slowing down the water flow, as well as adjusting pressure in the system to maximize use of the chilled water between both buildings. This tuning was enhanced with the completion of piping modifications to bypass five large chilled water pumps (driven by large electric motors), allowing us to turn off the pumps and achieve significant energy savings.
  • Installation of a new variable speed chiller: The existing chillers operate on the principle that they are either “on” or “off,” depending on chilled water system load. The addition of a new “variable speed” chiller allows the utility group to vary the chilled water generating capacity to match the load. These upgraded controls have helped dramatically increase the efficiency of the chilled water plant.

We estimate these improvements will reduce energy consumption by 6.6 million kWh and eliminate 4,700 metric tons of CO2 annually—the equivalent of taking 912 cars off the road. Additionally, the project is estimated to save more than $330,000 each year in electrical costs.

ISO 14001 Certified Manufacturing Facility in Hillerød

In 2011, Hillerød became our first manufacturing facility to receive ISO 14001 certification. ISO 14001 is a voluntary, internationally-recognized standard that requires companies to continually improve their environmental performance by systematically setting goals and tracking performance against those goals over time.

To achieve certification, a cross-functional team conducted a comprehensive gap analysis of our environmental management system to determine where we needed to formalize and enhance our processes. The team also set goals for improving our performance in areas such as energy use, water use and waste, among others. Hillerød’s certification is part of a larger corporate initiative in which we are aiming to have all of our manufacturing facilities ISO 14001 certified.