Biogen reached its 100% electricity goal in 2014 through renewable energy certificates and is now looking to invest in renewables more directly. Here, Johanna C. Jobin, Director, Global EHS & Sustainability tells us about the company’s journey and next steps.

What drove Biogen to become ‘100% renewable’?

Going 100% renewable aligns with Biogen’s mission of improving the lives of patients – we believe that caring for our patients and our people goes hand in hand with caring for our environment.

The business community is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions so we should also be a significant driver of the solutions. It’s not only the right thing to do – it adds value to our business and drives innovation in our products and operations. 

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

We believe there is great value in the business community communicating in a unified voice on this critical issue. RE100 brings together leading companies and shows investors, utilities, policy makers, and the public that there is increasing demand for renewable energy. Collaboration across the same industry is also key as we think about what the biopharmaceutical community can do to collectively address future challenges.

How easy was it to decide on your 100% goal?

We have a long-term ambition to reduce our carbon footprint as part of our overall Corporate Citizenship commitment and we have developed a strategy to measure, reduce and neutralize our emissions. Renewable electricity is key to delivering on this. We wanted to apply the same intellectual discipline and rigor as we apply in the development of our therapies.

What opportunities and challenges have you been encountering?

We have been 100% powered by renewable electricity since 2014 and are currently helping to fund external renewable energy and carbon offset projects. Going for carbon neutrality and increasing our efficiencies has helped us to drive meaningful carbon reductions.

A key ongoing challenge is that roughly 70% of the total emissions associated with our business is in our supply chain. However, we see this as an opportunity to continue to find innovative ways of working with our suppliers and effecting positive change across the whole industry.

Why do you think it is important for companies to play a role in accelerating demand for renewable electricity and how can we get more companies to go 100%?

Science-based assessments indicate that significant emissions reductions must be made across all sectors – national and governmental, private sector, consumer/community, and in the business sector. It’s important for leading companies to show that there is a business case for efficiency and renewable electricity so that more will commit to going 100% renewable. Through initiatives like RE100 we can increase renewable electricity demand, helping to reduce the costs and continuing to make it a more viable option. It also signals to suppliers to ramp up renewable energy production.

How else are you helping to drive forward the transition to a low carbon economy?

We are learning every day as this is a journey to us and we are just at the beginning of what we can achieve both within our organization, within our industry and beyond. In terms of our emissions we are exploring how we can move from net zero to net positive and continuing to drive process improvements and efficiency measures to further reduce our operational impacts – whilst encouraging our supply chain to do the same. We have been engaging our employees and educating them on how to help reduce their carbon impacts too. 

Last updated: November 2015