Aflac is committed to increasing the positive impact of our SmartGreen® philosophy by continually evaluating and embracing the most environmentally responsible policies, procedures and technologies.
As a leader in the supplemental insurance industry, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of the people where we serve and the environment. From the materials we use in our daily operations to the construction and renovation of our facilities, we carefully consider the impact our actions will have — not only today, but in years to come.
We’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce that impact. The Aflac Board of Directors Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Committee leads our program, which is called Aflac SmartGreen®. The Aflac SmartGreen® philosophy outlines our corporate commitment to wisely choosing, using and disposing of the resources we use each day. Our SmartGreen® Initiative can be broken down into five key areas for our U.S. operations:
The Aflac Board of Directors issued the following statement about the commitment of our Aflac U.S. and Aflac Japan organizations to environmental health and conservation:
"As the market leader in the supplemental insurance industry, Aflac is committed to making business decisions that balance the needs of our many constituencies, including our policyholders, employees, sales force and shareholders, while recognizing the obligation we have to the global community. Aflac is dedicated to the health and well-being of the people we serve and also to the health and well-being of the environment. As such, we strive to balance effective and efficient management of our operations with responsible environmental stewardship. Aflac is also committed to complying with relevant laws and regulations as well as promoting awareness among our employees and interested parties for shared responsibility towards protection of the environment."
We are working hard to implement innovative and responsible practices across our company to reduce our carbon footprint, ensure efficient use of resources and help our employees be good stewards of our natural surroundings. We are also providing tools that enable our policyholders to reduce their impact on the environment. In recognition of our efforts, we have been included on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America list as an honoree seven times. Aflac also consistently ranks in the top quartile of the Newsweek Green Rankings which measured the environmental performance of large publicly traded companies.
Current Aflac U.S. sustainability goals are:
As a large, publicly traded company, Aflac recognizes its corporate social responsibility for leading the way in eco-friendly business initiatives. To reinforce the Aflac SmartGreen® philosophy and our goal of environmental stewardship, Aflac has implemented policies and procedures that guide our actions with respect to buildings, procurement, purchasing and waste prevention.
Aflac has earned ENERGY STAR recognition for 86 percent of all eligible corporate property (by square footage), including the building that houses our data center. Our Energy Star score has increased by more than 50 percent since 2007, and our facilities perform in top 25 percent of all similar facilities nationwide. Additionally, we followed the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Commercial Interiors guidance in the renovation of a five-story main campus building and received gold level certification upon completion. Ernst & Young examined Aflac’s Scope I and II emissions reports and certified them with a letter of attestation.
Aflac became the first insurance company in the United States to be ISO 50001 Energy Management System registered, which represents the latest best-practice in energy management.
Through sustained and deliberate energy-saving measures, we’ve reduced electricity consumption by 50 percent per square foot since 2007. Our data center was one of the first ten data centers to earn Energy Star certification.
As buildings are remodeled, we implement energy-saving ideas such as task light motion sensors in cubicles and motion sensors in restrooms, copy rooms and parking garages. Our heating and cooling systems are powered down during off hours. We use software to power down or place in low systems nearly 5,000 PCs at all corporate offices at night to further reduce energy. The software analyzes and reports on power usage and energy consumption across the enterprise and at a granular, device-by-device level. In addition, the IT department raised the temperature in the data center, reducing energy usage and costs associated with air cooling.
We installed an array of solar panels on the roof of a corporate office building in Columbus, Georgia, and use solar energy to supplement our electric power, providing 15 percent of that building’s energy needs. With these and other energy saving methods, we reduced electricity consumption at Aflac for 12 consecutive years. Because of this track record of success, we are investigating the use of solar arrays at additional Aflac-owned properties.
In 2018, Aflac received ISO (International Organization on Standardization) 14001:2015 certification in environmental management at our headquarters facilities in Columbus, Georgia. The certification covers Aflac’s environmental planning for support services, strategic sourcing and procurement, information technology, facilities, transportation and corporate aviation. ISO 14001 certified companies have adopted proven environmentally responsible practices and conserve resources throughout their business processes.
A significant environmental impact resulting from the SmartGreen® philosophy stems from Aflac’s increased reliance on electronic instead of paper-based transactions. Using our patented laptop-based SmartApp® Next Generation application system and other paperless technologies, more than 90 percent of our applications are submitted electronically, and more than 80 percent of our new accounts receive their invoices online. The switch from paper to electronic transactions also has provided significant benefits in terms of the quality and efficiency of the services we provide to our accounts and policyholders, allowing us to provide fast claims payments. In addition, we’re also saving on the costs of photocopy toner, printer ink and postage — not to mention paying less for storage space and filing equipment.
Aflac uses an ORCA food digester that turns food waste from the company’s business cafeteria into graywater, which can be disposed of through the city sewage system. The food digester diverts 25,000-30,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill each year.
Recycling is a very important pollution-prevention activity that reduces our burden on the environment. Our recycling efforts annually divert approximately one million pounds of waste from the landfill. In addition to paper, Aflac employees are encouraged to collect the following materials for recycling:
Additionally, our Aflac SmartGreen® approach to purchasing means that, whenever possible, Aflac gives preference to products and materials that are:
Employees who make purchasing decisions are encouraged to consider the full life-cycle costs of products and services.
All Aflac employees are encouraged to incorporate our Aflac SmartGreen® practices into their daily activities. For instance, our clean commuters are treated to conveniently located, designated parking spaces on each campus as an incentive for our carpoolers, motorcycle riders, and hybrid or electric car owners.
Aflac has participated in the World Wildlife Fund’s annual Earth Hour for more than a decade, joining others around the world for a one-hour power down.
Throughout the year, our employees are engaged in company green-focused events, such as:
And much more!
Additionally, more than 500 employees currently participate in our telework program. An average of 8,000 Web-enabled teleconference meetings take place each month. Teleconferencing and video conferencing not only helps the company save travel expenses, but also increases the productivity of teams spread out across the U.S. and Japan by facilitating frequent communication.