Energy Conservation & Emissions in Boeing Operations

Exploring Boeing's top environmental priorities
Sep 12, 2017 12:05 PM ET

**This is the 14th article in a series focusing on The Boeing Company's environmental performance and progress in 2016. Visit for more information.**

Boeing takes a life cycle approach to our environmental footprint, which means we look at more than the effects of our products on the planet. We also carefully review how our products are manufactured and the effects of our operations. Reducing factory and facility emissions is a core part of our strategy and focus of innovation.

From partnering with the Department of Energy in 1974 on pioneering wind-powered generators to developing innovative fuel-cell systems and leading the world in photovoltaic technology, Boeing has long been a leader in developing technology that reduces operational emissions and provides cleaner options for manufacturing.

Boeing research in energy technologies and their application has grown in sophistication since the 1970s. Our work raises the bar on energy and resource efficiency standards.

For the past 60 years, Boeing’s wholly owned subsidiary Spectrolab Inc. has led the industry in solar-cell technology for both space- and Earth-based applications. Spectrolab is the largest continuously operating solar company in the world and the leading manufacturer of space-qualified multi-junction solar cells and panels.

Boeing’s new Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system, now operating in Port Hueneme, California, is demonstrating the sustainable value of using solar power to generate hydrogen gas from seawater. It then stores the hydrogen until it releases the gas into a fuel cell stack to produce electricity, heat and water.

These marketplace solutions are hard at work at Boeing facilities. On-site solar systems provide energy at Boeing plants in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Salt Lake City, Utah; and Boeing is a major purchaser of green power at several of its other facilities. Internal conservation efforts have resulted in significant accomplishments in 2016:

  • Over the past five years, as our commercial airplane production has increased by nearly 25 percent, our absolute energy use has decreased by 5.9 percent.

  • Achieved absolute energy reduction in 2016 of 802,000 mmbtu (million British thermal units).

  • Improved energy efficiency by 13 percent since 2012.

  • In 2016, expanded the company environmental engagement platform to include more information on energy, water conservation and recycling efforts to inspire replication.

  • Also in 2016, commissioned a new chiller plant at the Everett, Washington, site to support the world's largest building by volume, gaining a 36 percent efficiency improvement.