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 the years to come.
Although our corporate environmental impact is minimal due to the nature of our business, we’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce that impact. The Aflac Board of Directors 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:
The Aflac Board of Directors issued the following statement about our commitment 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."
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 for four consecutive years.
By the close of 2015, we hope to:
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 84 percent of all eligible corporate property, including the building that houses our data center. 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.
Through sustained and deliberate energy-saving measures, we’ve reduced energy consumption by 38 percent per square foot since 2007. 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. In 2012, we implemented 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.
The most 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. 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.
Recycling is a very important pollution-prevention activity that reduces our burden on the environment. 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. We have partnered with the Clean Air Campaign to encourage “clean commuting.” Our clean commuters receive incentives to share rides or reduce trips to office buildings. We have designated special parking spaces on each campus as an incentive for our carpoolers, motorcycle riders, and hybrid or electric car owners.
Additionally, more than 350 employees currently participate in our telework program. In 2013, an average of 2,900 meetings per month took place via Web-enabled teleconference. Teleconferencing 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.