Meet the six winners of this year’s Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, held in partnership with Bethesda Green
Striving for a Sustainable Campus
Outside AstraZeneca and MedImmune in Gaithersburg, there are solar panels and an automated irrigation system to help conserve water. Inside, the cafe’s composting bins spotlight the goal of having a zero-waste operation campuswide.
The biopharmaceutical company’s campus includes 10 buildings with 1.3 million square feet of space and roughly 3,500 employees. In 2010, MedImmune committed through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent by 2020 and is on target to do so, having cut usage 17 percent by the end of 2017, according to the company. MedImmune was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2007 to serve as its global biologics research and development arm.
In 2016, AstraZeneca and MedImmune installed a combined heat and power unit that turns natural gas into usable electricity and heat, avoiding energy losses that occur when a power plant generates, transmits and distributes power. The company recycles 70 percent of its waste, which includes biohazardous waste that is processed along with laboratory plastics into reusable lumber. (A bench next to the company’s bocce court is made from those lab plastics.)
Employees from various departments volunteer to serve on the Green Team, which has been around for about a decade and works with the company’s Sustainability Team. The teams have sponsored Earth Week activities, organized cleanups as part of Montgomery County’s Adopt A Road program, set up bin collections for area nonprofits and created a program for employees to take home heat-treated wood and plastic pallets for reuse.
Mike Dieterich, the site’s energy and sustainability manager, says AstraZeneca and MedImmune also aim to have a “ripple effect throughout the supply chain.” The organization informed the campus’ sushi provider that its decorative green plastic leaves could not be composted and weren’t wanted. They were gone in the next day’s delivery.
Christe Fraser, sustainability coordinator, says the Green Team initiatives generate great responses from the company’s leaders. “Our leadership prioritizes sustainability,” she says. “[They’re] looking forward to us bringing projects.”