Along with the rest of the building, the illuminated sign on Aflac's corporate headquarters in Atlanta went dark for Earth Hour 2013, a symbolic gesture demonstrating the company's dedication to energy conservation. The Georgia-based insurance company has rolled out a new policy that reduces energy usage in a variety of ways, including motion sensor-activated lighting in its parking garage and offices.

In this video, Rob Holleman, Aflac facilities maintenance construction director, and Alfred Blackmar, vice president of facilities, discuss how Aflac is backing up this commitment, leading to a considerable decrease in energy use. 

"Energy reduction is very important to Aflac; it's a way to show that we're good stewards of our company resources," says Blackmar. 

In addition to participation in Earth Hour activities for the fifth year in a row, Aflac has implemented changes in many of its buildings. By only using lights when they're needed and the addition of motion sensors and automated programs that put computers and monitors to sleep, energy use has been drastically reduced. Switching from physical to virtual servers has also made a difference at Aflac's data centers.

Overall, Aflac has cut its energy consumption by 35 percent per square foot, saving the company about $1.4 million, or 10 percent of its operating budget in 2012 alone. Over the past five years, the company has saved nearly $5 million. 

Learn more about Aflac's commitment to the environment at Aflac.com.

Transcript

Rob Holleman: Aflac is very committed to our energy policy. We are rolling out an energy policy company-wide that expresses our commitment to continuous improvement of our energy management system.

Our parking garage is a good example, where we had high pressure sodium fixtures that were old technology, that were very energy inefficient. So we've changed to fluorescent fixtures, and, at the same time, we've installed motion sensors that would only come on as vehicles enter the parking garage.

Our energy usage has been drastically reduced, so much so that Georgia Power actually came out to visit us because they thought that they had an ineffective or a broken utility meter on the building.

IT has actually been very cooperative with us as well. They implemented last year a program called Night Watchman, and that puts computers and monitors to Sleep Mode. IT has been also helpful. They've worked very hard in virtualizing a lot of the servers, getting rid of physical servers and going to virtual equipment. And we've seen some good energy savings from our data center and even in the buildings as well.

Some of the other projects that we've undertaken in the last couple of years to reduce our energy have been in the areas of lighting scheduling. Lights now come on as people are entering the building to begin their workday, and they are generally shutting off between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

We've also installed lighting sensors in areas like private offices and conference rooms. If someone is not physically in the office working, the lights will shut off, and so we're not wasting energy in that regard.

Aflac participated for the fifth year in a row in Earth Hour activities, and we made sure that all of our nonessential lighting and other power uses were turned off and made sure that, for that hour, that Aflac was completely dark.

Alfred Blackmar: Energy reduction is important to Aflac. It's a way that we can show that we're good stewards of our company resources. We had the tenth data center become Energy Star certified in the U. S. And we've reduced energy by 35% per square foot, saving the company just in 2012 about $1.4 million, about 10% of our facility's operating budget, and over the past 5 years, nearly $5 million.

So we want to be very broad, not just teaching and bringing awareness to energy reduction at work, but we think it's important to educate employees. Then they'll take that same mindset to their homes and in their personal lives.