Lockheed Martin flies toward higher environmental goals

Defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) isn't ready to rest on its sustainability laurels. After meeting its company-wide environmental goals one year early, the Bethesda, Md.-based corporation is now embarking on a plan to craft a new set of environmental goals.

"They will be both substantive and meaningful, and will propel us on a path of continuous improvement," said Gary Cambre, Lockheed's senior communications manager for environmental, health and safety. "Regardless of all the things we as a global company have to deal with, we are still looking towards opportunities both large and small to add to our incremental improvement."

Coming up with new targets is a perennial challenge for green-minded corporations: set them too low and you may not get much engagement; raise them too high and you risk missing them.

Lockheed appears to be open to ideas. Its 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report, released Friday, includes an interactive back cover where readers can share their ideas about what the company can do to improve its sustainability performance. Cambre said the new goals will be released soon.

Whatever targets the company ends up with, it will be approaching them with the confidence that comes with soundly beating its previous goals.

In 2008, Lockheed Martin laid down plans to cut water use, waste sent to landfill and emissions by 25 percent each, starting with 2007 figures as a baseline.

Not only did Lockheed meet all of its environmental goals a year ahead of schedule; it even exceeded its carbon-emissions- and waste-reduction aims in that time, slashing emissions 30 percent and landfill waste 39 percent.

Meanwhile, its revenues rose 12 percent over the past four years, the company said, adding that it expects substantial savings from some of its environmental projects.

To cut its carbon, for example, Lockheed undertook more than 200 energy efficiency projects at various U.S. sites. Those projects are expected to reduce energy costs by $7.5 million within four years.

While Lockheed's energy tactics included the typical lighting and HVAC system improvements along with renewable solar and wind energy purchases, it also started using wood waste to provide power to a facility in Owego, N.Y.

In addition, Lockheed involved its suppliers in its environmental goals by, for instance, asking them to cut down on packaging.

Lockheed buys computers from Dell, Cambre said, which would ship one per box. After talking with Dell -- a company that has been working on packaging innovations like bamboo materials, mushroom-based packaging and recycled content -- about how to curb the amount of packaging Lockheed would have to dispose of, Dell started shipping six computers at a time.

"Efforts like that, which are really low- or no-cost, can really result in some savings," Cambre said.

Lockheed ended up reducing the amount of waste it sends to landfill by about 35 million pounds of trash.

While in some cases, such as the packaging example mentioned above, the company is creating less waste, it’s also diverting more of its waste from landfills via recycling programs that it has set up at some of its U.S. facilities.

On the water side, Lockheed's 25 percent reduction equals using 1.5 billion fewer gallons of water a year, made possible by landscaping that requires less water, low-flow bathroom fixtures and upgraded heating and cooling equipment.

Photo of 35 Joint Strike Fighter by Jordan Tan via Shutterstock.