After nine years of reporting on its sustainability performance following the Global Reporting Initiative’s framework, Lopez-led geothermal energy leader Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) shift to integrated reporting (IR) for its 2019 business performance (https://energy.com.ph/sustainability/) signals the company’s response to the need for businesses and individuals to go beyond sustainability that simply seeks to do less harm.
In particular, EDC is enhancing its existing business performance and impact by fostering regenerative development—a globally emerging business principle centered on elevating everything that the company touches. The IR framework is set forth by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and seeks to go beyond organizational impact on the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit, extending to how the company intends to create value in the short to medium and long term.
Lower carbon intensity
EDC’s shift is also articulated through the Lopez group’s renewed mission statement—“forging collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future.” Indeed, a key achievement of EDC in 2019 was attaining lower carbon intensity in its operations.
Carbon intensity refers to the emission rate of a given pollutant relative to a business metric to signify the intensity of a specific activity. Being in the energy sector, EDC’s relevant measure is tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt hour (MWh) of energy produced.
In 2019, EDC reported a 5.4 percent reduction in carbon intensity from 0.1053 to 0.0996 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per MWh. This was achieved through several efficiency initiatives across its operations, such as power plant retrofitting, cooling tower improvements and replacements, as well as timely completion of planned outages during preventive maintenance. All these measures helped EDC avoid 48,854 more tonnes of harmful CO2 compared to 2018. To illustrate, it would require 1.58 million trees to eliminate such amount of emissions in a year.
It helps that to begin with, EDC’s carbon footprint being a 100% renewable energy company is only a tenth of an average coal power plant’s carbon footprint. In generating its total output of 9.4 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in 2019, EDC was able to avoid as much as 8,155,348 tonnes of CO2 in comparison to an average coal plant producing the same amount of electricity—the same amount of emissions that 265 million trees would be able to absorb.
This is on top of EDC’s efforts to be carbon neutral year after year, with its annual carbon sequestration of 3.9 metric tonnes of CO2 from the watersheds that it manages in its geothermal reservations and carbon emissions of only 865,652 tonnes from its operations.
Managing over 270,000 hectares of geothermal reservations has been made possible with the help of its partner communities, transforming residents in its areas of operation into forest stewards who are incentivized for helping the company manage these forestlands. This has been primarily implemented through EDC’s social forestry program beginning in the 1980s until it evolved into its BINHI greening legacy in 208.
Apart from reforesting close to 10,000 hectares of land and planting over six million seedlings in the past 11 years, EDC has been able to partner with 178 various public and private organizations all over the country to help restore 96 threatened native tree species—making BINHI the country’s biggest and most extensive private sector-led greening programs. All these efforts have also resulted in the protection and propagation of wildlife species in EDC’s areas of operation, documented through a biodiversity conservation and monitoring program that the company has been implementing in partnership with the University of the Philippines–Diliman’s Institute of Biology for over 10 years now.
Agents of change
Another important factor in EDC’s shift to regenerative development is the commitment of its employees, which are its most valuable capital. The company’s 2019 IR highlighted the affirmation of its workforce in terms of being aligned with EDC’s renewed commitment to a decarbonized and regenerative future.
In his IR message, EDC president Richard B. Tantoco reported a record-high overall employee engagement rating of 91 percent. This was on the heels of a major restructuring that the company underwent in 2019. “Our employees are truly our partners, and these results indicate that they are willing to go the extra mile to support EDC,” he said.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, this commitment was put to further test as EDC sought to keep its facilities running to supply the essential resource of electricity throughout the nation. “Our teams continue to outperform to keep EDC ahead of the curve by not only providing an uninterrupted supply of clean, renewable power to our customers but also by keeping our employees and their families safe,” added Tantoco.
EDC swiftly responded to the pandemic through organizational changes such as work-from-home arrangements and skeletal teams onsite. Tantoco cited EDC’s experiences during the 2019 earthquake in Mindanao and typhoons Tisoy and Ursula that hit its facilities in Bicol and Leyte, respectively, as valuable lessons in resiliency that helped them cope with COVID-19. “Our Natural Catastrophe Risk Mitigation Program has enabled us to plan for key risks and implement cost-effective solutions that protect assets that have the highest value at risk,” he explained.
The company’s culture of “malasakit” goes beyond its own facilities as EDC continues to ensure that its host communities are not left behind through its various corporate social responsibility programs (CSR). Education, mainly through its SIKAT scholarship program, remains the centerpiece of its community empowerment initiatives as EDC believes that it is the greatest equalizer in society.
Aside from providing relief assistance, medical supplies and personal protective equipment to frontliners and residents, EDC lent container vans to partner provincial hospitals that can be used as temporary quarantine for patients or sleeping quarters for its medical staff.EDC has also donated Rapid AntibodyTesting Kits, and Real-Time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines and attachments to capacitate its areas of operations in becoming COVID-19 resilient.
No matter that there seems to be no clear end in sight yet to the current COVID-19 pandemic, EDC is pushing forward with optimism on its new journey toward a decarbonized and regenerative future with all these strategies and resources in place.