"Saving Energy is Driven by Our People"

The Better Buildings Challenge SWAP is a special experience. It’s a chance to peek behind the curtain at what other companies are doing to reduce their energy use. Technology is obviously a big player in this effort, but what really stood out to me during SWAP is that reducing energy use is all about the people.  Building a culture of sustainability, where everyone does their part even when no one is watching, is an important way to achieve long-term energy efficiency goals.

With L’Oréal’s goal to reduce our CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste by 60% by 2020, it is increasingly important that everyone can participate in the company’s sustainability efforts. In, 2013, we launched a global sustainability campaign called “Sharing Beauty With All,” (or “Sharing Beauty With Y’all” in North Little Rock) designed not just to improve our resource management, but make sustainability tangible for everyone. At our North Little Rock plant, our efforts include:

Making the mission personal

Last year we completed a new 1.2MW solar array with over 3,500 panels. To share pride and awareness in the project, and make it personal for everyone, each of the facility’s more than 300 employees has a stanchion named after them in the array.

Sharing the dirt

We’ve also launched a composting project in our employee cafeteria, where we create compost on-site from our food scraps. The result is rich soil that our employees can take home.

Displaying our progress 

In one of our highest-traffic hallways, we created a wall display dedicated to our sustainability efforts at the plant. The display is assembled by employees each quarter and includes updates on waste reduction, information on the plant’s biggest energy-users and even has a computer monitor sharing real-time data from our solar array. It’s a constant reminder and instant connection to the importance of resource management.

These efforts have had a measurable impact on our sustainability goals, but one of the most inspiring results is that our team is taking what they learn home. We are creating a ripple effect with our employees beyond the walls of our plant, multiplying our ability to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. We’ve enjoyed being part of the Better Plants program, where we’ve learned and shared best practices with other plants.

It was a bit unnerving to give a crew of outsiders a behind-the-scenes look at our sustainability practices, but it was great to see the General Motors team at work. Throughout SWAP, the GM team proved they are tenacious efficiency seekers with a great eye for improvement. We really benefitted from their fresh perspective and their expertise in performing energy “treasure hunts,” which are standard practice in GM’s plants. I can’t wait to create a similar program at L’Oréal to continue to push our sustainability forward.

Ultimately, whether you’re building cars in Detroit or packaging mascara in Little Rock, more sustainable manufacturing depends on all of us. Give your people the tools to get involved, make progress tangible, and celebrate success. It’s amazing what a little teamwork can do.