GSK Starts Work on Largest Rooftop Solar Array in North America

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare installs the first of 11,000 panels today for a 3-megawatt solar energy system that will become the largest roof-mounted array thus far in North America.

The installation at the GSK's Northeast Regional Distribution Center in York, Pa., is a milestone for the firm. It is the first of four planned solar projects at company facilities in the U.S. in the next four years. It is also the first array that will enable a GSK facility to rely completely on solar energy for power, company representatives said.

"This is an iconic project for us," said Larry Brown, vice president of North America supply for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

Brown and Mark Rhodes, the sustainability vice president for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, offered perspective on the project, whose start marks the latest phase of a renewable energy initiative that's part of GlaxoSmithKline's broader environmental sustainability efforts.On the rooftop of GSK's Northeast Regional Distribution Center in York, Pa.

The pharmaceutical firm was No. 5 in Newsweek magazine's recent annual Green Rankings of the 100 largest global companies.

With more than 90 manufacturing facilities, 20 research laboratories, a large vehicle fleet, and administrative offices and distribution centers around the world, GlaxoSmithKline has had goals for reducing its environmental footprint for several years.

The company has set energy reduction targets since the late 1990s, Rhodes said, and the GSK program to address climate change, which sets a series of environmental performance goals, has been in place since 2007.

Currently, the firm has a goal of reducing climate change impacts and energy use of operations and transport by 45 percent by 2015, compared with 2006 levels. Progress toward the target is measured in emissions and energy use per unit of sales. The company also looks at absolute reductions, which in 2009 came to an 8 percent drop in absolute energy use compared with a 2006 baseline, according to GSK's most recent corporate responsibility report.

The company's strategy, Rhodes and Brown said, includes making facilities and equipment more energy efficient, installing on-site renewable energy systems and supplementing those efforts with electricity purchased from renewable energy sources.