When it comes to DuPont and the environment, the chemical company recognizes that finding truly sustainable options for modern life is one of its most critical challenges. The company’s sustainability page, on which much of this article is based, spells out its goals for designing products and processes with DuPont and the environment in mind.

One of the eco-friendly initiatives DuPont is pursuing is to reduce the amount of energy, water and materials used when designing products or processes. The company, which has been criticized over the years for its environmental record, also encourages the use of renewable resources when developing products.

In October of 2006, DuPont created its 2015 Sustainability Goals (opens as PDF). These goals aim to reduce DuPont’s environmental footprint in several areas.

In 1999, DuPont set a goal of having 10 percent of its global energy use come from renewable energy sources by 2010. DuPont now receives energy from hydropower, landfill gas, biomass, biogas, and renewable energy certificates (REC’s) from wind and biomass.

In addition to receiving energy from renewable energy sources, part of DuPont’s sustainable efforts include reducing the amount of energy used overall. In the decade prior to 2000, DuPont reduced its energy usage by 15 percent. Since 2000, DuPont has held its total energy use at its 2000 rate despite a 35 percent increase in production.

DuPont has been taking action against global warming for almost 20 years now – since 1991. In the 1990’s, DuPont voluntarily reduced its greenhouse emissions by 45 percent -- primarily by reducing emissions of nitrous oxides and fluorochemicals. The company got more aggressive in the early 2000’s and increased that reduction to 72 percent by 2003. Even now, DuPont continues to strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another area where DuPont and the environment come together in is water conservation.

By 2015, the company’s goal is to reduce water consumption by at least 30 percent at its global sites that are located where the renewable freshwater supply is either scarce or stressed. In other areas, DuPont intends to hold water consumption flat. To date, DuPont has achieved a five percent reduction in water consumption in these targeted areas.

Recognizing that the fleet of vehicles that service the company’s needs contributes to DuPont’s environmental footprint, the company implemented the policy that vehicles should use leading technologies for fuel efficiency and fossil fuel alternatives. DuPont defines leading technologies for fuel efficiency as flexible fuel vehicles, hybrids, clean diesel vehicles and E85 vehicles. The goal is that by 2015, 100 percent of DuPont’s off-site fleet of cars and light trucks will use these technologies. To date, 22 percent of DuPont’s fleet uses them.

DuPont also wants to ensure that 100 percent of its global manufacturing sites have an independent third-party verification that certifies the effectiveness of each site’s environmental management goals and systems. Thirty-six percent of DuPont’s global manufacturing sites currently have this third-party verification.

It’s also noteworthy that DuPont’s environmentally-friendly goal of reducing air carcinogens by 50 percent by 2015 has already achieved a 13 percent success rate.

In addition to its 2015 Sustainability Goals, Dupont’s environmentally-friendly efforts are evident in its Environmental Stewardship Program, which supports programs and initiatives that sustain the environment and natural habitats.

These programs include Chesapeake Farms – a 3,300 acre farm devoted to the development, evaluation and demonstration of advanced agricultural practices and environmentally-sound wildlife management techniques.

Additionally, with The Clear into the Future program, DuPont has joined with the Delaware River community to maintain and improve the Delaware Estuary for the future.

Finally, DuPont’s environmentally forward Land Legacy Program includes placing surplus DuPont property into protected status for wildlife habitat and preserves green spaces for future generations.

All told, DuPont is moving forward with an ambitious plan to help the environment and build a more sustainable business.