The GSB Interview: Emily Davis, Sustainability Director at DHL North America, on Logistics, Formula-E

DHL is the largest logistics and express delivery company in the world (yes, they are bigger than FedEx and UPS). Given the German-based company’s size and the businesses they’re in, it’s not surprising that their carbon emissions are massive. But those emissions have declined substantively as compared to nine years ago and those reductions will be tiny compared to what DHL will achieve over the next three to 33 years, if their aggressive projections are realized. GreenSportsBlog spoke to Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit, to understand how the largest logistics company in the world will go about achieving its net zero emissions goal by 2050 and how sports fits into those plans. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: I did not realize DHL was the biggest logistics company in the world. With that being the case, I am fascinated by the commitment of a company that big to get to “net zero” on carbon emissions by 2050. Before we get to the particulars of what DHL might do to get from here to there and where sports fits in, I’d like to find out how you got to DHL and its sustainability team.

Emily Davis: I have a scientific background, specifically the biological sciences. Even though I went to Notre Dame, don’t tell anybody but I’m not that big of a sports fan.

 

EmilyDavisheadshot2

Emily Davis, Sustainability Program Manager at DHL North America’s Supply Chain unit (Photo credit: Summer Safrit)

 

GSB: Oh, your secret is safe with me!

ED: I won’t hold my breath on that one. I’m more of an outdoor sports person—caving, mountaineering, paddling, that sort of thing. I started my career in the clinical medicine space and decided to make the transition to sustainability while out in Denver.

 

Emily spelunking new cave passage

Emily Davis, exploring virgin passage of a cave in Tennessee (Photo credit: Elliot Stahl)

 

GSB: Great place for outdoor sports…

ED: Exactly…And I could blend my dual passions for the environment and biology. I went back to school, getting my MBA from Vanderbilt in Nashville in environmental management to build a new skill set in this area.

GSB: What was the coursework like for an environmental management MBA?

ED: Good question. Some of it involved things like the business of forest certification standards and marketing. And that, in part, led to my getting a job at International Paper in forest resources in Savannah and then with their sustainability department in Memphis.

GSB: What was it like to work in corporate sustainability there back in the mid-to-late 2000s?

ED: Sustainability was important to a paper and packaging company as trees, the main raw material input, are a very finite resource if not appropriately managed. But not too many companies were talking about sustainability, ESG, life cycle assessment and climate change in those days. Even though sustainability was important to the culture at International Paper, I still wanted to make more of a difference. So I took a sabbatical and traveled. At some point, I decided that I needed to work for a company that believed in environmental protection at the top of the food chain and that had size and scale such that, when environmental improvements were made, the impacts would be significant.

GSB: And that company was…DHL? A company that ships stuff all over the world and, thus, must have a, sorry, yuuuugge carbon footprint?

ED: Yes, DHL North America it was. In 2011, they were looking for someone to run their North American supply chain and sustainability departments. And yes, we have a massive footprint. But that means, with a strong commitment, they—and I—could make a difference. At the time, I didn’t know much about the company. They were/are based overseas—headquartered in Germany. But I came to find out that they had ambitious sustainability goals. They believe deeply in environmental protection—it’s core to their DNA. And I thought to myself, “this is a company that has a chance to really make a positive impact on climate change.”

GSB: So what did your job entail?

ED: Many things. Meeting the company’s energy and fuel efficiency goals. Which meant accounting for and improving the efficiency of warehousing, heavy-duty trucking, aviation, express shipping and supply chain operations.

GSB: That is a BIG JOB. Seems to me like express delivery, which is what I thought was DHL’s main business, plays a smaller part in the US. So let’s go to a big part—supply chain. How does the company handle supply chain from a sustainability point of view?

ED: DHL, which tracks Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, is the first logistics company to report CO2 emissions and to set targets, with 2007 as the base year. Our primary goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020. We achieved this in 2016, almost four years early, which we announced on March 8 of this year.

 

DHL Truck Windmills

Environmental protection is core to DHL’s DNA, according to Emily Davis (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Somehow I don’t imagine you and DHL are going to rest on your laurels…

ED: You’re right. We announced a new goal and that is to be a Zero Emissions Logistics company by 2050.

GSB: That seems impossible for a company that depends on flying and driving for a good chunk of its business. There have to be some assumptions of some serious technological advances over the next 30 or so years in terms of Zero Emissions fuels…

ED: It’s a huge target, no doubt about it. I mean, we’re committing to making no contribution to climate change by 2050. So, yes, we are assuming there will be wide adoption of Zero Emission fuels and equipment by that time and DHL is working on that right now.

GSB: Are there any interim targets? I mean 2050 seems like it’s a long way away—although I know, in terms of climate change, it really isn’t—but it feels like a company could put a commitment like that out there and then let things slide a bit, you know?

ED: I hear you. And we do have four interim sub-targets for 2025: 1. Make a 50 percent improvement on CO2 efficiency over the 2007 base. 2. Improve local quality of life…that will involve delivering 70% of our own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions like EVs. 3. An economic target: 50 percent of DHL sales will incorporate “Green Solutions,” including carbon neutral parcel delivery.

GSB: What is that percentage now?

ED: About 10 percent. Finally, #4 is a “people target.” DHL is one of the largest employers in the world, with approximately 454,000, including about 29,000 in North America. By 2025 we commit to having trained and certified 80 percent of our employees worldwide to be GoGreen specialists. Every division has a program, from express delivery to supply chain. And we have a target to plant 1 million trees each year by 2025. We’ve found, by the way, that our GoGreen initiative helps with employee retention.

GSB: I always believed that would be the case. DHL’s current sustainability and climate change actions are exemplary; its future plans even more so. My only nagging doubt is this: Many corporations take incredible sustainable actions but, when it comes to lobbying and political actions—i.e. lobbying for a price on carbon—they’re silent or in opposition. DHL is walking the climate/green walk. Is it talking the talk where it counts?

ED: It’s both. DHL is certainly talking the talk, sharing how we’re using scientific targets to do our part to keep global temperature increase to 2°C or less vs. pre-industrial levels, we report our emissions to CDP, have been a longstanding partner of the UN and promoter of Sustainable Development Goals, part of the UNEP and vigorously support the Paris Climate Agreement.

GSB: OK, let’s talk Green-Sports, specifically DHL’s involvement with Formula-E, the EV racing series.

ED: DHL has been the Official Logistics Provider for Formula 1 since 2012 and for Formula-E since its 2014 launch. Among other things, we are responsible for getting the vehicles and tires to the race venues in a timely, economical, environmentally responsible fashion. Formula-E is a perfect fit for us, especially with our push on “E-mobility” and electric vehicles (EVs). And, to be clear, our push is not limited to electric cars. We’re working on electric trucks within our own operations…

 

DHL Form-E

DHL has been a sponsor of Formula-E, the EV racing circuit, since its founding in 2014. (Photo credit: DHL)

 

GSB: Not surprising…

ED: And also electric vans, electric scooters. So promoting the electrification of racing is a natural fit. To our way of thinking, eventually—say before 2050—we hope that F-1 will move transition towards all-electric…

GSB: And so Formula E would no longer need to exist.

ED: That is our goal. And, also in the sporting world, I should tell you that one of our customers in Brazil was a sponsor of the Rio Olympics in 2016—we weren’t but they were. Anyway our EVs were used by the sponsor at the Olympics—they were one of the first ever EVs to be used at an Olympics and certainly a pioneering event for Brazil.

GSB: And, if DHL has anything to say about it, not the last.

 

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Manchester City Promotes Energy Storage to its Supporters; Land Rover BAR Pushes to Win America’s Cup and the Climate Change Fight; Jenny Vrentas of SI.com Decries U.S Exit from Paris Climate Agreement

Manchester City continues the greening of the English Premier League by entering into a partnership with Eaton and Nissan that will promote home energy storage units to fans. Land Rover BAR, in Bermuda to try to bring the America’s Cup to Great Britain for the first time, continues its winning sustainability performance, going all in on the climate change fight. And Jenny Vrentas, the excellent NFL reporter for si.com’s fantastic MMQB blog, writes about the U.S exit from the Paris Climate Agreement. All in all, it’s a busy GSB News & Notes Tuesday.

 

NISSAN AND EATON HELP MANCHESTER CITY AND ITS FANS GO GREEN

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally planned to be posted on what turned out to be the day after the tragic terrorist attack in Manchester, England. We decided not to run it then and are offering it today instead. 

Manchester City, third place finishers in the recently completed 2016-17 English Premier League football/soccer season, is owned in large part (86 percent to be exact) by oil barons from Abu Dhabi. Their stadium is named after Etihad Airlines. With that pedigree, the club seems an unlikely Green-Sports innovator.

But Green-Sports innovators they are.

In a sponsorship deal announced in May, US-based battery storage developer Eaton agreed to market its xStorage Home Energy Storage Units—developed using recycled batteries from existing Man City sponsor Nissan electric vehicles (EVs) and manufactured at that company’s Sunderland, England plant—to supporters of the Light Blues.

According to “Soccer Meets Storage,” a story by Madeline Cuff in the May 12 issue of GreenBiz, City fans will receive “targeted content about energy storage across Man City channels over the coming weeks, including via the club’s website, app and at ‘certain moments’ during games. Die-hard fans also will be able to purchase a limited-edition Man City-branded storage unit for their homes.”

 

Eaton video (1:02) promoting its xStorage home energy storage units runs on Manchester City’s website. (Credit: City Football Group)

 

Speaking to reporters, Tom Glick, Chief Commercial Officer of City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, as well as New York City FC (NYCFC) of Major League Soccer and other clubs around the world, said “Our job is to help bring [home energy storage] to life: help to raise its profile, to tell a story, help to reach a big audience.”

Take a moment to re-read that quote.

Do you agree with me that having a high ranking executive from one of the most valuable group of sports teams in the world say publicly that bringing the home energy storage sector to life is part of its job is a big deal?

More Glick: “Our ability to reach millions of people in the U.K., and indeed around the world, to be able to convey the message about sustainability but also benefit for their own personal situation is right there for us.” He added that “phase two” of the deal could involve Eaton outfitting Etihad Stadium with its storage products.

Why is Eaton making what is likely a sizable sponsorship investment in Man City? Because 1) the club is a perennial contender for the Premier League crown, having won it twice in the past six seasons, and 2) the residential storage unit market is poised for rapid growth in the U.K.

On the latter point, and per Ms. Cuff’s GreenBiz piece, as of year-end 2016, only about 2,000 such units were installed in homes across Great Britain but “analysts predict it will grow 70 percent this year as costs fall and consumers become more comfortable with the technology.” And that is expected to be just the beginning.

Eaton is poised to be a big player in the home energy storage category in the U.K. with xStorage installations expected to begin in July. As well as storing power, the battery packs also can feed energy back to the grid during times of peak demand.

Eaton’s initial target market is solar powered homes, as they currently stand to gain the most financially from installing a storage device and minimizing use of grid power. According to Ms. Cuff, “Nissan and Eaton claim the average home in the U.K. with a 3kW rooftop solar installation could save around $55.61 per month by installing its entry level 4.2kWh xStorage Home unit.”

Beyond the Nissan-Eaton partnership, sustainability has taken a deep hold at Man City:

  • Etihad Stadium is part of a sports, community and business hub that sits on what was a largely toxic and unusable heavy industry site. In its place are City Football Academy; the National Squash Centre; the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance; the National Indoor BMX (cycling) centre and a Velodrome.

 

City Redev edie.net

Aerial view of City Football Group’s sports, community and business hub, with the Etihad Stadium in the middle of the picture. (Photo credit: Edie.net)

 

  • Absorption chillers, and combined heat & power systems (CHP) help to export electricity to the grid and thus reduce carbon emissions.
  • Air-source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, bore hole water and LED lighting have also been fitted across the campus to deliver results.
  • All waste water from ground activities is recycled and re-used across the City Football Academy and the Etihad Stadium.

 

LAND ROVER BAR KEEPS FIGHT FOR CLEAN OCEANS AND CLIMATE CHANGE FRONT AND CENTER AS IT WORKS TO WIN GREAT BRITAIN’S FIRST AMERICA’S CUP

One would think that the skipper, crew and support staff for Land Rover BAR, the British entry in the 35th America’s Cup Presented by Louis Vuitton taking place in Bermuda, would be focused on one thing and one thing only over the next month: Becoming the first team to win the trophy for the U.K. in the 166 year history of the race. And, rest assured, the squad is hyper-focused.

But, working with Exclusive Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Land Rover BAR is demonstrating it can go all out to win while also going all in on its very public campaign that promotes 1) a clean, healthy marine environment and 2) climate change.

As far as the racing is concerned, Land Rover BAR and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie made it through last week’s qualifiers and are facing off against Emirates Team New Zealand in this week’s challengers’ playoffs. The Kiwis own a 2-0 lead over Land Rover BAR in the best 5-of-9 series, winning the opening races on Monday after the British boat suffered damage to its wing, which required the team to abandon the first race and forfeit the second in order to do the necessary repairs. But things can turn around quickly with two more races set for tomorrow, two for Wednesday and up to three more on Thursday – this series runs as a “first-to-win five races,” so the numbers of actual races sailed will depend on the results. The winner will face the winner of the Artemis Racing (Sweden) – SoftBank Team Japan duel, tied 1-1 after Monday’s action, in the challengers’ playoffs finals, scheduled for June 10-12. The survivor will then match up in the final series vs. Oracle Team USA, the current holder of the America’s Cup, beginning on June 17.

While Land Rover BAR’s results on the water are still to be determined, its sustainability initiatives are already proven winners. This is due, in large part, because the team and 11th Hour Racing are leveraging the “Power of Partnership,” encouraging and working with the team’s many global, British and Bermudian corporate and nonprofit partners (BT, Aberdeen Asset Management and Low Carbon to name but a few), to engage their stakeholders (employees, consumers, etc) to take specific positive environmental actions. The partners were provided a toolkit that shows them how to seed a new environmental action each week during the month-long America’s Cup homestretch, starting the week of May 22nd.

  • Say No to Single Use Plastics (w/o 5/22)
  • Go Meat Free on Mondays (w/o 5/29): Talk about a win-win-win: Cutting meat from one’s diet one day per week helps slow climate change, protect the environment and improve one’s health.
  • Consume Only Sustainable Seafood, Including Lionfish (w/o 6/5): Scheduled to coincide with World Oceans Day. 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, or have already suffered a collapse. Invasive lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic—and are particularly problematic in Bermuda. They threaten native ecosystems including coral reefs. During the run up to the America’s Cup Finals, 11th Hour Racing spearheaded an #EatLionfish educational campaign in Bermuda. With World Oceans Day taking place June 8, this is a great week to, per Land Rover BAR, “Eat ’em to Beat ’em!”

 

Lionfish

 

  • Promote and Use Renewable Energy (w/o 6/12)
  • Recycle Unwanted Materials (w/o 6/19)

 

These programs are just the latest examples of Land Rover BAR’s Best-In-Class sustainability track record, including its BREEAM Excellent (akin to LEED Gold) home base in Portsmouth, England, to its Life Cycle Assessment approach to carbon efficiency, and much more. Per a recent press release, these efforts are designed to keep the team consistent with the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement, doing its part in the effort to reduce global carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 30 years.

 

 

JENNY VRENTAS OF SI.COM’S MONDAY MORNING QB OPINES ABOUT U.S. EXIT FROM PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

Jenny Vrentas is a fantastic sportswriter, covering the NFL for Sports Illustrated’s popular Monday Morning Quarterback site—it reaches 1 million readers monthly. Her stories on the varied aspects of the league’s potentially existential concussion issues are informative and illuminating. This week, she substituted for the vacationing Peter King, the site’s Grand Poobah, penning her version of the must-read (for pro football fans) MMQB column, a detailed, insider’s view of the news, rumors and nuggets surrounding the NFL.

 

Vrentas

Jenny Vrentas, from si.com’s MMQB blog. (Photo credit: Twitter)

 

So imagine my pleasant surprise when Ms. Vrentas, near the very end of MMQB, in the TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK section, in the “I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week” subsection, included the following as her items c and d:

c. I was trying to find a smart link between the urgency of the fight against climate change and sports. This was the best I could do.

d. A better idea would be to simply link to this video of climate change happening, a section of ice the size of the tip of Manhattan calving from a glacier in Greenland.

I think I thought two things upon reading this:

  1. Welcome to the Green-Sports movement, Jenny Vrentas, even if you aren’t aware you’ve joined!
  2. You can find plenty of smart links between the climate change fight and sports right here at GreenSportsBlog!

 


 

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