Some insurers, however, have recognized that improving an organization's carbon footprint and reducing its operational costs are not mutually exclusive. Executives who can make that case to their business partners are more likely to see their green projects get the, well, green light from business leaders.
Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance ($15.5 billion in assets under management), for example, recently announced that it has purchased Las Vegas-based TRIRIGA's Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), a Web-based operations, facilities and real estate management product suite that the carrier hopes will help reduce operating costs and boost energy efficiency. The contract was announced in late January and American Family expects a four-phased implementation plan to be developed by July 2009.
The IWMS solution includes the TRIRIGA Real Estate Environmental Sustainability (TREES) module, which the carrier will leverage to measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings. "We felt that we had an ethical responsibility to practice our business in as sustainable a manner as possible," explains Anne Boyle, a planning and administration specialist in American Family's business and workplace services division. "We're also looking to the future and expecting inevitable federal reporting guidelines and requirements for businesses of our size. We felt that we needed to be proactive and be prepared for that time once it arrives."
An Added Benefit
American Family executives describe the TREES module as an added benefit to the IWMS solution rather than a key driver behind the purchase of the larger system. "We did have a business case that shows how the overall IWMS software will save us money in the long run," says LeeAnn Glover, planning and administration director, business and workplace services, American Family. "We didn't sell it to our management just from a sustainability or TREES perspective."
Notes TRIRIGA CEO George Ahn, "American Family's decision to implement TREES is also a move toward improved financial health, since reducing the environmental impact of buildings has tremendous economic advantages."
Until recently American Family had managed its numerous buildings on a regional basis. A change in structure within the carrier's business and workplace services division -- to a more centralized facilities management model -- was the impetus behind the TRIRIGA contract. "Each of the regions had different technology systems to manage facilities and other operations," Glover explains. "When we did a recent structure review within our own division, we centralized and decided that one large piece of software could manage our large facilities better."
The IWMS software was chosen, Boyle says, for its reporting and metrics capacity and its storage capabilities for facilities information. The system, she relates, offers more than 1,800 specific reporting tools and custom reporting capabilities. "We felt IWMS software was an easily used tool to create meaningful, measureable statistics for our group, which is something incredibly important to us to make sure we are achieving, reaching and determining benchmarks throughout our business operations," Boyle comments.
The TREES solution specifically features 117 reporting tools. Chief among those tools, Boyle says, is LEED reporting, Energy Star efficiency and carbon emissions protocol guidelines. "We are hoping to get all that reporting up and running so that we can, at any moment, report what our carbon footprint is as a company," Boyle relates. "Obviously, this is business and there's always going to be an underlying responsibility to save money for the organization -- which we hope this will. But it goes hand in hand. To save the environment, you're typically saving money as a company as well. You're using your energy and your services in a more sustainable manner by following reporting guidelines and holding yourself to a certain protocol."