United Technologies Corporation has some of the brightest minds in tech working on the latest and greatest helicopters, aircraft engines, fuel cells, elevators and building systems, among its many other ventures. So perhaps it's no surprise that when it comes to United Technologies and the environment, innovation seems to come easy.

The Connecticut-based multinational conglomerate has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which recognizes the top 10 percent of companies in more than 60 industries and 24 countries, every year since the index was launched in 1999. United Technologies has also received a long list of awards and recognition for its environmental efforts including a 2005 EPA Climate Protection Award for its “leadership, dedication and achievements in protecting the Earth's climate.”

That's no small feat for the 18th largest manufacturer in the United States, operating in over 180 countries across the globe.

As is the norm in the manufacturing industry, United Technologies is responsible for no small amount of emissions and air pollution – researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst identified United Technologies as the 38th-largest corporate producer of air toxins like heavy metals in the United States in 2008. But United Technologies has already made significant progress on climate change targets, and has set a series of new goals that aim to reduce the negative environmental impacts of its operations.

United Technologies established Environment, Health & Safety goals in 1991 and committed to 10-year goals to reduce energy and water use in 1997, adding air emissions and waste reduction goals in 1999. The corporation met and exceeded many of those goals by 2007 and made even more aggressive commitments for the future.

In that initial ten-year period, United Technologies cut air emissions, recycled waste and on-recycled waste by 69 percent, 52 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Energy use went down 56 percent and water use was slashed by 72 percent. And amidst all this progress, United Technologies managed to prove that sustainability is indeed profitable: its revenues doubled.

Between 2007 and 2010, United Technologies vowed to slash greenhouse gas emissions 3 percent annually and water consumption 2.5 percent annually. The corporation reports that it exceeded both of those goals by the end of 2009, and is poised to release the next generation of targets for 2011 through 2015.

United Technologies Corporation's strategies for reducing carbon and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions includes using state-of-the-art co-generation power generating systems (PDF) at many of its facilities. These co-gen plants use jet engines to produce electricity and capture the heat created by the engines for use on-site. United Technologies also pioneered a new type of geothermal electric installation in Alaska, which may open the door to geothermal power across much of the U.S.

Such innovations have landed UTC on KLD Research's new Global Climate 100 Index, which promotes investment in 100 public companies that are expected to provide valuable solutions to the climate change crisis.

United Technologies has turned to LEED certification (PDF) for ensuring the sustainability of its own facilities, and seven of its buildings have earned certification including the Pratt & Whitney G Building in East Hartford, Connecticut. In 2009, two United Technologies buildings – the UT Electronic Controls facility in Huntington and Carrier Charlotte Chiller Operation Plant – became two of just 11 LEED-certified manufacturing facilities.

Among United Technologies' other environmental programs and initiatives are generous grants and partnerships with organizations dedicated to making the world a greener place. UTC gifted $1 million to the sustainable overhaul of President Abraham Lincoln's summer White House, and also pledged $200,000 to aid in Conservation International's efforts to restore critically endangered forests in the mountains of Southwest China.

For more information on United Technologies and the environment, check out the company's website.

United Technologies and the Environment
Perhaps it's no surprise that when it comes to United Technologies and the environment, innovation seems to come easy.