Schneider Electric is leading a new world of technological transformation. Its energy efficient systems, software, and services are reshaping industries and mobilizing sustainable living. This month, Senior Vice President of Safety, Environment, and Real Estate, Xavier Houot, describes the company’s commitment to decarbonization, all while delivering enhanced reliable and efficient energy management and automation. Schneider Electric’s innovative, carbon-neutral solutions are making a planet-friendly future possible.
Parvati Magazine: Schneider Electric is a world leader in energy efficiency and sustainability. Why have you declared the ambitious goal of achieving supply chain-wide carbon neutrality by 2030?
Xavier Houot: This goal was announced by our CEO in October 2015, just before COP21. For over twenty years our focus had been to improve energy efficiency of our own operations by ten percent every three years. Now, to demonstrate we are part of the solution, we wanted to take a bolder ambition. Given climate challenges ahead, we needed to be able to demonstrate both how we are decarbonizing ourselves and a solution for our customers doing the same. The time had also come to move from incremental year on year efficiency targets to a bolder goal, allowing a “one-planet compatible” global economy to emerge.
Parvati Magazine: In 2017 Schneider Electric joined RE100, a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. What role do you see RE100 playing in the world?
Xavier Houot: First, this membership reflects our commitment to be 100 percent powered by renewable electricity by 2030. We trust RE100 has the ability to bring together key stakeholders from business, governments and civil society to actively advocate a step-by-step decarbonization of our electricity sources around the globe.
We are a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 initiative. With growing pressures over climate and natural resources, it is critical that manufacturing and consumption patterns evolve across industry sectors and become more “circular”.
Why good for the earth is good for business
Parvati Magazine: You help corporations and governments around the world meet energy and sustainability challenges. What changes have you seen in the willingness to make significant investments in sustainability?
Xavier Houot: What I would say is customers do not invest in “sustainability” per se. When they buy our products and services, they expect one or more of the five following value additions to their own sustainable performance ambitions. First, trust and transparency with super compliance with environmental regulations, confidence and certification about origin, “made in”, or environmental footprint. Second, resource performance: less energy, less CO2, less everything, is more money saved, and more resiliency, future-proofing their own operations. Third, circularity: products which last longer and can be repaired, refurbished and retrofitted are good for the environment, reduce total cost of ownership and improve the bottom line. Fourth, health and safety: solutions that are free of a growing number of chemicals and materials. Fifth, differentiation: our solutions help them to win in their own market (e.g. green building certifications).
We want them to see value in selecting our offers to support their business. Eventually, it is good for the environment! [It’s] the famous “win-win”.
Parvati Magazine: What impact does the Schneider Electric commitment to sustainability have on your relationship with your employees?
Xavier Houot: It is strategically important. All of our 142,000 employees want to feel they are part of a company whose purpose is to grow its businesses profitably, but in a manner which is planet and climate compatible. Our genuine commitment to sustainable growth improves employee engagement and talent acquisition, even at high levels in the organization. We come to work each day with a passion for green growth.
Parvati Magazine: What else do you want our readers to know about Schneider Electric’s commitment to planet Earth?
Xavier Houot: We are gauging our progress through three outside-in lenses. First, are we climate compatible thanks to our decarbonization efforts? Second, are we one-planet compatible from a resource intensity perspective? That’s why we partnered with Global Footprint Network [to] assess how we help move the date of Earth Overshoot Day towards December 31st. And number three, are we life preservation compatible?
Our drive is to grow our business and supply chain in an inherently sustainable manner, and allowing our customers to do the same. We really believe a low carbon future is possible.
Xavier Houot is Schneider Electric SVP in charge of Safety, Environment, Real Estate. Xavier’s role is to help define and implement planet and climate-compatible growth paths for Schneider Electric, and to help spell-out and design offers which allow customers to become more resource efficient, more circular, decarbonized thus boosting their own business performance. Lastingly.