As companies react to pressure from their supply chains and customers to improve their sustainability metrics and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more are adding sustainability executives to their C-suites.
Logistics real estate provider Prologis appointed Susan Uthayakumar in the new role of chief sustainability and energy officer.
The Tuesday release said that Uthayakumar worked at Schneider Electric for 16 years and served as the president of the sustainability business division. She was also recognized for her efforts to mitigate climate change impacts for enterprise customers in 2021.
Uthayakumar told FreightWaves that she wasn’t necessarily looking to move companies, but she was excited about the chance to implement energy solutions that she has developed over the years and unlock the renewable energy potential provided by Prologis’ 1 billion square feet of building space globally.
Uthayakumar’s position will include working with a team to scale existing and emerging energy solutions. She will also focus on stakeholder engagement and strategies in environmental stewardship, social responsibility and governance. Prologis said that Uthayakumar will report to COO Gary Anderson.
“Our energy and ESG programs create value that reaches beyond the walls of our real estate. We’re looking forward to Susan’s experience and expertise to help us provide even more value to our customers while doing our part to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable environment,” Anderson told FreightWaves.
Significance of C-suite-level sustainability executive
Companies are increasingly appointing sustainability experts in higher levels of leadership. Why is this important? As executives focused on sustainability reach higher levels of a company’s leadership, it’s more likely that the company will consider the impacts that their decisions have on the environment and communities.
“Climate risk is a major threat to society globally. We’ll see real progress as more companies have leadership at the highest levels in the company focused on sustainability and incorporating sustainability into business strategy,” Uthayakumar said.
Anderson said: “We’re focused on helping our customers be successful, and we see this as an opportunity to further leverage our global footprint and our expertise in delivering sustainable energy and real estate solutions to them. Programs like Prologis SolarSmart and Essentials help our customers grow their business while minimizing environmental impacts, and I’m excited to work with Susan as she scales these initiatives.”
Prologis has a target to reach 100% carbon-neutral construction globally and install 400 megawatts of solar capacity on its buildings by 2025. The company said it is on track to achieve those goals in its 2020 sustainability report.
“On the energy side, I am excited to scale up the generation of renewable energy on-site, which will help address the climate crisis that we are facing globally. It will also facilitate Prologis providing green energy to our tenants as they work on their sustainability goals,” Uthayakumar said. “I am excited to further the sustainability goals of Prologis to ensure that we continue to lead on sustainability in the industry with innovative solutions.”
The San Francisco-based company is behind on its science-based target to reduce scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, which represent only 0.1% of Prologis’ emissions, by 21% by 2025, using 2016 as a baseline. Those emissions increased by 40% between 2016 and 2020. However, Prologis said it has plans to recover lost progress.
Prologis has made more progress on its scope 3 emissions, which represent 99.9% of the company’s total GHG emissions. The company has surpassed its target to reduce scope 3 emissions by 15% by 2025, using 2016 as a baseline. Prologis’ scope 3 emissions went down by 37% between 2016 and 2020.