How to help a manufacturing ecosystem to meet green commitments

Nicola Brittain

Sustainability has become a core business driver for many companies, here we look at how engineering giant Emerson is leading the way.

That Emerson, one of the biggest names in the power and process sectors, is committed to sustainability is without question. During a keynote presentation at the recent Emerson Exchange held in Dusseldorf, chief technology officer Peter Zornio and chief sustainability officer Mike Train talked a busy auditorium through some of the organisation’s key achievements and future plans, as well as how they were shepherding suppliers through various sustainability milestones.

Progress made

Over the last five years the organisation has reduced emissions intensity [mTCO2e/4M) by 42% and energy intensity by 19%; while the use of renewable electricity across the business is up 30%. The company has some difficult targets too, such as operations of net zero by 2030, a net zero value chain by 2045, and zero ‘waste to landfill’ by 2032. As Train explained this is a collaborative effort: “It will take a village to achieve this,” he said. Suppliers, clients and even transport used by Emerson staff and operations will need to change to meet these targets. “Sustainability needs to be driven into our culture, but the fun thing about going green is that everyone’s in it together,” he added.


The presenters talked through some of the initiatives currently in place at the company. One, the Treasure Hunt Process, of which the company has conducted over 50, sees facilities across the world being encouraged to identify areas where they can reduce energy by 10%, 15% or even 20%. The company is currently doing a second round of these and has found that people are better able to see opportunities after doing it the first time. 

Another annual event, the Earth Month Eco Challenge, takes place every April. In 2022, more than 1,300 Emerson employees from 43 different countries participated, saving an estimated 500 kg of CO2 emissions, conducting 59 energy audits and ensuring that over 3,000 meals were zero-waste, by serving them in reusable or recyclable packaging with no discarded food.

Customer projects

Ongoing green projects for Emerson include one with Neom, a green hydrogen energy company based in Saudi Arabia. The company is producing 600 tons of green hydrogen and 1.2mtpa of green ammonia a day and Emerson is helping to automate, design and build out the infrastructure.

Another project is with French independent energy company Albioma to help transition its coal-fired Bois Rouge plant to 100% renewable energy.  A third project with Mitsubishi Power is seeing the company store green energy then dispatch it as electricity during peak times.

The presenters went on to talk about Emerson’s four pillars of sustainability: decarbonisation and seeing out renewable energy sources; opportunities around making fuel from waste; the hydrogen ecosystem; and circularity and waste management.

Train said: “There are fewer and fewer people who don’t believe that the actions of humans are changing the planet. I’m an engineer by background and it’s kind of a simple material balance - the carbon was in the ground and now we’re bringing back into the atmosphere where it was billions of years ago.”

Zornio concluded with a rallying statement: “I also think there’s never been a better time to be an engineer. There’s are new processes being invented to combat climate change. Engineers are needed now more than ever to help solve these problems.”

Supplier roadmap

The keynote saw Emerson’s Train and Zornio provide a detailed sustainability roadmap for suppliers. It explained how the company’s factory automation solutions can drive innovation in areas such as emissions monitoring, CGC overhaul and furnace optimisation. The roadmap also detailed likely savings as a result of implementing these innovations. Emerson has long been recognised for its work in sustainability, and last year received the 2023 Bosch Global Supplier Award which noted that that 70% of Emerson’s revenue is tied to sustainability-enabling technologies for customers. When presented with the award, Train said: “Emerson is deeply honoured to receive the 2023 Bosch Global Supplier Award in the Sustainability category. Our efforts are having a measurable impact as we partner with customers to make the world healthier, safer, smarter and more sustainable.” The company’s impressive commitment to reducing emissions across its global operations looks set to continue long into the future.

Recent Issues