Founded in Gaithersburg in 1988, MedImmune is the global biologics research and development (R&D) arm of AstraZeneca. With one of the largest, most robust pipelines in the industry — including more than 120 research projects and product candidates — we comprise nearly half of AstraZeneca’s overall R&D portfolio. We focus on three core therapeutic areas: Oncology, Respiratory, and Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disease. The Gaithersburg Campus includes R&D laboratories, pilot-scale manufacturing of biologics medicines, and office workspace and supporting site operations for nearly 4,000 MedImmune and AstraZeneca employees and contractors.
As one of AstraZeneca’s largest sites and its US Center of Excellence for R&D, we support AstraZeneca’s 10-year Sustainability Strategy for protection of Natural Resources, which includes the following global commitments:
- Limit our 2025 extended operational GHG footprint to 2015 levels.
- 10% absolute reduction in energy consumption against a 2015 baseline by 2025
- 10% absolute reduction in waste generation against a 2015 baseline by 2025
- Maintain water usage at 2015 levels as our business grows by 2025
Sustainability is embedded in operations at the Gaithersburg campus. Governed by senior management and implemented by cross-functional teams, a dedicated Sustainability Group and active employee Green Team, we set and track progress against annual targets which support AstraZeneca’s global ten-year commitments. Recent achievements are described below.
Energy & Carbon Emissions
The Gaithersburg campus led the way in energy conservation and carbon emissions reduction at MedImmune and AstraZeneca. In 2010, we pledged to reduce our energy intensity by 25% by 2020 through the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Plants® program, and are currently on target to meet that goal. A cross-functional team monitors energy performance and regularly reports progress to senior management to ensure resources are available to achieve this aggressive target.
In 2014, we were the first biotech company to receive certification under DOE’s Superior Energy Performance® program, and we were re-certified to the program at the Gold level for 2017-2020. We were the first biotech laboratory facility registered to the ISO 50001 Energy Management standard, and were re-registered in 2017 for the 3-year period through 2020.
Since of the end of 2015, 100% of our purchased electricity has been backed by renewable wind energy. In 2016, we installed a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant to reduce our carbon footprint. By capturing and using heat from electricity generated by the CHP, we reduce carbon emissions by over 30% when compared to using the conventional electric utility grid. Our CHP enables reduction of over 7500 metric tons of carbon per year, equivalent to taking over 1600 passenger vehicles off the road! A second CHP plant is planned for 2019.
Low-flow fixtures and smart irrigation sensors help conserve water on campus. Additionally, we capture usable “reject” water for use in cooling towers, lowering our fresh water consumption. Our childcare center building harvests and conditions roof runoff rainwater for use in toilet flushing, and captures additional runoff for manual watering of gardens. In 2017, we began a robust assessment of the amount of water we use in manufacturing with a goal of reducing unnecessary water use in the production of biologic medicines.
We continue to search for ways to move our waste streams “up the waste hierarchy” to the most environmentally-preferable manner of disposition. Not only do we recycle typical items such as paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, glass, used oil and yard debris, we also recycle ink cartridges, batteries, light bulbs, self-serve coffee machine packets, cafeteria grease, electronics, and nearly all construction debris. We have established routes of re-use for items such as furniture, office supplies, laboratory equipment, pallets, and drums. We donate unserved cafeteria food to our neighbors through Nourish Now. We have a mechanism for our scientist to share chemicals rather than buying excess. We contract recyclers who reprocess our waste directly into a usable product, such as composting our food prep, plates, cups and utensils from our ZeroWaste café. Starting in 2017, we partnered with Triumvirate to reprocess our laboratory plastics and biohazardous laboratory waste into plastic lumber through their “Red2Green” program. Each year we assess our waste streams for additional opportunities for source reduction, re-use, and recycling. Since 2015, we have improved our recycling rate by 10%.
New Construction and Renovations
Sustainability is a consideration in every construction and renovation project on our campus. The site Sustainability Manager is involved in planning and status meetings. Major construction projects are designed to US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold or better. Our newest building, a Childcare Center opened in late 2017, has submitted for LEED Platinum certification. Renovation projects include high efficiency LED lighting and occupancy sensors for all office areas, conference rooms, open areas, and garages; automated window shades are used in key areas to provide sun or shade as needed to moderate temperature; low-flow fixtures
It takes conscious effort from every employee to achieve our sustainability goals, so we leverage multiple channels of communication to reach them. In addition to new hire training, we communicate our goals, progress, and programs to all campus employees through our company-wide social network Chatter, frequent articles on our intranet portal Nucleus, a prominent and dynamic Sustainability Wall in our cafeteria, and pertinent site operations email communications. Our Green Team members represent all parts of the campus and can act as Sustainability ambassadors in their work areas. The Sustainability Manager works with the Green Team to coordinate events at Earth Week and throughout the year to increase employee awareness of our Sustainability goals.