Making strides in sustainability: How Boston Scientific is helping the planet with its real estate and workplace strategy

Feb 10, 2021

The dual challenges of climate change and a global pandemic have made designing safe, sustainable and efficient workplaces even more important for companies and their employees.

That’s certainly the belief at Boston Scientific, which takes a sustainable approach to managing a global footprint that includes 150 manufacturing and commercial locations around the world -- more than 9 million square feet of real estate.

In September 2017 at Climate Week in New York, Boston Scientific announced its commitment to carbon neutrality for its manufacturing sites and key distribution centers by 2030.

“Manufacturing great products and being environmentally conscious shouldn’t be mutually exclusive,” said Noel Finnerty, director of global real estate and facilities (GREFAC) at Boston Scientific. To advance this goal, Boston Scientific is proactively addressing energy consumption, carbon output, waste management and water use.

Finnerty’s team, which is responsible for real estate, workplace strategy, facilities capital projects and operational excellence, works closely with the company’s Environmental Health and Safety teams to serve the workplace needs of 36,000 global employees.

To help Boston Scientific meets its energy reduction and carbon neutrality commitments, the groups worked together to quantify the energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions at key company sites, and partnered with the National University of Ireland, Galway, to develop a centralized Global Energy Management System, known as GEMS.

At the core of GEMS is its “C3” strategy; cutting energy use, converting to renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels and compensating with carbon offset projects where needed. For example, the manufacturing sites located in Clonmel, Cork and Galway, Ireland, use high-efficiency technologies such as combined heat and power to generate energy that is cleaner than conventional gas, oil or coal-fired power stations and our Marlboro and Quincy sites both utilize solar energy.  

Boston Scientific tracks its sustainability commitment through six GEMS key performance indicators (KPIs) that are reported in its integrated performance report. One of the KPIs is Green Real Estate, or the percentage of real estate that is independently certified for energy efficiency by internationally recognized programs such as LEED or ISO 50001. This performance indicator has risen from 27 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2020, which represents more than 4 million square feet of the company’s real estate.

Boston Scientific also tracks the percentage of the company’s energy generated by renewable sources, whether on-site or purchased from outside suppliers and is on target to source or generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2024. And by 2027, the company expects that 90 percent of all energy, including electricity and natural gas, will be renewable at all facilities – an important milestone toward the 2030 commitment.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many employees shifted to working remotely, Boston Scientific leaders surveyed global employees to understand workplace preferences and learned that many would prefer a more agile approach that would allow them to continue to work remotely in some capacity after the pandemic.

“We are developing a work place strategy that combines the best of what can be accomplished more effectively in a remote setting with the benefits of face to face collaboration in the office to create a ‘physical’ workplace environment that propels the business forward,” Finnerty said.

According to Finnerty, along with an enhanced employee experience and improved real estate efficiency enabling more employees to work from home more often will also significantly reduce workplace commuting and business travel (via technology), which in turn will reduce energy use and CO2 emissions.

To learn more, read Finnerty’s Q&A in American Builders Quarterly.