Climate change is having devastating effects on the world today. According to NASA and NOAA, 2020 was the second hottest year on record and in 2020, extreme weather events like wildfires and storms cost $95 billion in damages to the US economy and impacted countless lives. The need to act is urgent and time is running out.
Ericsson’s net-zero pledge
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 50 percent between 2020 and 2030, and by another 50 percent each decade thereafter to reach net zero carbon by 2050. For its part, Ericsson as a company has set a goal for operations to be carbon neutral by 2030, meaning that carbon emissions from Ericsson´s fleet vehicles and energy usage from facilities will be net zero by 2030.
A sustainable smart factory
Ericsson’s commitment has been integrated into the design of the 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas, which is not only the company’s first highly automated smart factory in the United States, producing 5G and Advanced Antenna System (AAS) radios to accelerate 5G deployments in North America, but also integrates sustainability in all aspects of its building design, construction and operations. Today, we are thrilled to announce that the factory has achieved LEED Gold Certification, making it the first Ericsson factory globally to do so.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally recognized green building rating system and the most widely-used of its kind. To achieve LEED certification, projects need to integrate metrics like energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, as well as stewardship of resources in the building design, construction and operations.
Obtaining LEED Gold Certification, which is usually associated with office and residential buildings rather than factories, was no easy feat. The 300,000 square foot concrete building was originally designed as a fulfillment center, and turning it into a high-performance, automated and sustainable electronics manufacturing facility took a concerted and creative effort. Ericsson’s team examined every possible technology such as fuel cells and microgrids to reach our sustainability goals. The design team also adapted to the realities of the site – for example, rooftop solar would have required major structural upgrades, so bifacial solar panels were used on the ground as well as on a covered parking garage.
Rising to the challenge of designing a sustainable factory
Ericsson invested in high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems that are designed to enable the factory to operate with up to 24 percent less energy use than comparable buildings, lowering the operational carbon emissions of the factory.
- 40,000-gallon tanks capture and reuse rainwater, resulting in an estimated use of 75 percent less indoor water compared to a similar building
- 98 percent of the construction and demolition waste (i.e. bricks, drywall, plastic, paper and wood) was diverted from the landfill
- An estimated 17 percent of power is produced by on-site solar panels
- The combination of on onsite solar and green-e certified renewable electricity procured from the utility gird means the facility is powered 100 percent by renewable electricity
Digital connectivity is a key to making the 5G smart factory sustainable. Technologies like 5G, IoT, AI and machine learning are all employed to increase production efficiency and reduce resource consumption.
The factory is a standout example of how digitalization can combat climate change by directly reducing carbon emissions 15% by 2030 and indirectly supporting a reduction of 35% through digital transformations in other industries.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done in making the 5G Smart Factory more sustainable, and the LEED Gold certification is an independent third-party recognition of our efforts. We know there’s more to do. Ericsson plans to pursue LEED Zero Carbon certification for the factory by addressing emissions from natural gas, other fuels and employee transportation. Our hope is that the 5G Smart Factory will be a beacon for how manufacturing, the ICT sector and Ericsson can be leaders in the fight against climate change.
You could find more about this article on the website ericsson.com HERE – Author: Bhushan Joshi, Head of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility for Ericsson in Market Area North America