Our Values In Action
The Future Is Renewable
Comcast NBCUniversal operates out of more than 3,000 buildings, ranging in size from our 60-story Comcast Technology Center to cable headends1 the size of a garden shed. The sheer scope of our physical footprint makes our goal that much more audacious: We aim to power all of our buildings, as well as our network and operations, with 100% renewable energy.
“Energy use is one of our biggest areas of opportunity,” says Susan Jin Davis, Chief Sustainability Officer for Comcast NBCUniversal. “We are looking for operational efficiencies to conserve energy while also investing in renewable energy where we can. We know that renewables are the future.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only about 11% of energy consumed and 17% of energy generated in the United States in 2017 came from renewable sources. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that renewables will need to make up a minimum of 63% of the world’s electricity generation by 2050 if we are to limit global warming to a 1.5°C increase over pre-industrial levels.
Our 100% renewables goal, while long-term and aspirational, reflects the company’s determination to do our part in the transition toward a low-carbon future, and we’re taking action across our operations. Take Comcast Cable’s Northeast Division, which has installed solar panel systems at nine locations in four states, with several more systems planned for 2019. Two of the 2018 installations were large-scale solar carports — one at the division’s headquarters in Manchester, N.H., and one at our call center in Plymouth, Mass.
The nearly 1,200 solar panels on the Plymouth carport generate close to 100% of the adjacent call center’s electricity. The Manchester carport has 950 solar panels that are providing about 10% of this large facility’s power needs. Both systems are outperforming initial engineering predictions, making them a great investment both environmentally and financially.
The carports also have some unexpected environmental advantages over traditional rooftop solar panels. “When employees park under the carports in the winter, they won’t have to spend time brushing off accumulated snow, which saves engine idling time,” explains Ben Strunk, Director of Power and Facility Infrastructure for the Northeast Division, which encompasses 13 states in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and New England. Idling, of course, burns fuel and creates tailpipe emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions. Strunk adds, “In the summer, the carports provide shade, reducing the need to crank the air conditioning to cool down the vehicle.”
The smaller solar panel systems installed by the Northeast Division are used on headends. Although solar is sometimes thought of as less dependable and less consistent than other electricity sources, Strunk says these systems actually help make our operations more reliable. “Reliability is critical to Comcast, as our broadband, video, and other services must be delivered 24/7, without interruption,” he notes. “Headend electronics work optimally when the utility power grid quality is high. On-site solar panels improve the utility power grid quality and therefore the performance and efficiency of the electronics.”
It’s not just our Northeast Division that’s gone solar. NBC7 San Diego’s state-of-the-art, LEED Silver facility features a solar rooftop system, and our Oakland, Calif., Field Fulfillment Office generates its own energy from solar panels, among other examples.
We’re also harnessing wind power. Comcast Spectacor, which operates the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, announced that it will purchase 9 megawatts worth of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Constellation, a retail energy company. The RECs will be invested in the HillTopper wind project in Illinois and will be equivalent to 100% of the power used at the Wells Fargo Center.
As we make strides toward our 100% renewable energy goal, we are also working to make our overall use of energy more efficient — no matter the source.
In the Northeast Division, we have measured and analyzed energy use in every technical facility we operate, ultimately finding efficiencies that reduced 2.7 megawatts of energy from our baseline consumption in the division. We replaced outdated equipment, such as HVAC units, with new, more efficient equipment; assessed airflow around electronics to make sure they were operating at peak efficiency; and right-sized infrastructure to match consumption.
Last year across Comcast NBCUniversal, we invested nearly $5 million in LED lighting, which will reduce our energy consumption by approximately 11 million kilowatt hours annually. LED bulbs are far more energy efficient than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, and they last longer. We’re utilizing them throughout our operations — from Comcast Spectacor’s sports and entertainment venues, to Universal Parks & Resorts, to Universal Studios’ television and film productions, to our many office buildings throughout the United States. Telemundo’s new 500,000-square-foot headquarters building in Miami, for example, is lit with 100% LED lighting.
Looking ahead, we’re rolling out an energy management platform that will monitor real-time energy use in every building in our cable business. And we’ll continue to increase our use of renewable sources.
“Across the company, we’re looking at where our energy comes from and whether there’s a greener alternative,” says Jin Davis. “Those efforts are helping us shrink our environmental footprint and move toward our long-term goal of 100% renewable energy."