The commitment of GAC Energy & Marine Services (GEMS) to sustainability when building its new purpose-built office and warehouse building in Houston, Texas, has earned it the First Prize in the GAC Group Chairman's Award for Environmental Excellence for 2013.
The 180,000+ square feet LEED (Leader in Energy & Environmental Design) certified facility opened in September 2013 to serve GEMS customers while minimizing its impact on the environment and achieving significant savings in energy costs.
Built on a previously developed site to avoid the use of unutilised land and the destruction of natural habitat, the building's 'green' design include features which reduce energy and water savings by 34% and 40%, respectively, compared to a conventional office/warehouse building. 23% of the materials used in its construction were recycled and 34% were locally produced, reducing the overall carbon footprint of the project. Almost 90% of the construction waste was sent for recycling instead of going into a landfill. All paints, sealants, coatings and floor systems used have low or no chemical emissions, and all cleaning products used since its opening carry the 'green seal of approval' in line with LEED building maintenance guidelines.
Bjorn Engblom, GAC Group Co-Chairman and Principal Trustee, says:
"Sustainability requires much more than a short-term quick fix. It can only be achieved with a tangible commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of our facilities and our operations. The investment
made in the planning and construction of GEMS’ new facility in Texas displays exactly the kind of commitment to sustainability that we believe is the way forward."
The second prize went to GAC Thailand for its dual recycling and tree planting initiatives over the year. Throughout the year, monthly collections resulted in more than 900kg of paper, plastic and aluminium
being sent for recycling rather than ending up in a landfill site, or worse. That translates into a CO2 emission reduction
of 2.35 tonnes. In parallel, 90 staff members got their hands dirty as part of a project to
plant 500 trees in Samut Songkran province, south-west of Bangkok. Mangrove forests serve as vital wildlife nurseries, protect the coastline from erosion and absorb 2-4 times as much carbon dioxide as tropical rainforests. It is estimated that over their lifetimes, the 500 trees that GAC Thailand volunteers helped to plant will reduce pollutants by 700kg a year and increase released oxygen by 100,000 litres per annum.
In Oman, the local GAC company's efforts to cut overall fuel consumption by 16.4% through mindful driver conduct and close monitoring and maintenance of vehicles resulted in a reduction of more than 250,000,000 grams of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from January to November 2013. It also earned the company third prize in this year’s Environmental Awards.
Patrik Hallden, Group Vice President – Human Resources, says the winning entries all demonstrate that good business and a corporate social responsibility are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, a commitment to the environment through initiatives large and small makes sound commercial sense whilst also underlining the GAC Spirit which stresses the importance of respect for the Group's employees and the communities that host it, locally and globally.
Since it was established in 2009, the First Prize in the GAC Group Chairman's Award for Environmental Excellence has been awarded to GAC Pakistan, GAC Nigeria, GAC Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, and the scheme has recognized the efforts of GAC companies in Dubai, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Singapore and the USA.