At first glance, Lockheed Martin may not seem like the kind of company that would have a strong emphasis on sustainability, but this defense contractor and IT corporation with 1,000 facilities in 46 states has undertaken an appropriately space-age approach to going green. For Lockheed Martin and the environment, sustainability not only means being on the front lines of renewable tech development, but also following a methodical and highly efficient plan to improve the environmental impact of its own operations.

Renewable Energy Technology

As one of the world's largest defense firms, why should Lockheed Martin concern itself with going green?

"We view energy as a national-security issue," Chris Myers, Lockheed Martin's vice president of energy programs told the Arizona Republic last year. Myers was discussing the $1.5 billion solar power plant that Lockheed is set to build west of Phoenix. The plant – just one example of many similar projects helmed by the corporation – will help the Arizona Public Service Co. exceed state-imposed alternative energy requirements.

Solar cells are just the beginning of the broad range of renewable energy technologies that Lockheed Martin is currently working on including wind power, synthetic fuels, biofuels, smart grid systems and even harvesting energy from ocean waves and from the ocean's warm surface water. In fact, Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Ocean Power Technologies to develop a wave energy generation project large enough to power a utility plant, and also received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to commercialize Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology.

Lockheed Martin is also set to help the U.S. Air Force power up with green energy no matter how far they are from conventional power sources. The corporation gained a contract in May 2010 to develop lightweight, air-transportable power sources that the Air Force can use to establish mobile air bases.

But Lockheed Martin is going beyond merely producing cutting-edge renewable energy tech, helping corporations, organizations and governments reduce energy consumption and keep track of carbon emissions. The company offers energy efficiency services like smart metering, designed to help these entities in the transition to a new clean economy.

Go Green Initiative

Of course, Lockheed Martin's environmental progress isn't limited to outside efforts. Lockheed Martin's Energy, Environment, Safety & Health program, outlined in its 2007 Sustainability Report, includes a comprehensive program called the “Go Green Initiative.”

The Go Green Initiative is an internal green campaign that engages its 140,000 employees in conservation efforts at work, at home and in their communities. Employees participate in such efforts as Energy Star Pledges to reduce their individual carbon footprints and volunteering for environmental outreach programs in schools.

The initiative also addresses Lockheed Martin's impact on the environment through its own operations. The company is seeking to reduce carbon emissions, water usage and the amount of waste sent to landfills by 25 percent over 2001 levels with a deadline of 2012.

Lockheed Martin has already saved about 275 million gallons of water and reduced power consumption by 44 million kilowatts – enough to power 1,500 homes for a year. According to Newsweek, the company has also targeted its hazardous waste, producing a paint systems and solvents for its fuselage joints and fasteners that don't contain toxic chromium.

At a single facility, “Green Teams” led by employees were able to save more than $300,000 through energy-efficient lighting upgrades. They also reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2,511 metric tons. Lockheed Martin also has 11 LEED-certified green buildings, including its Center for Leadership Excellence in Maryland, and several more buildings seeking certification are currently under construction.

For more on Lockheed Martin and the environment, check out the Going Green section of the company's website.