Original article published on November 19, 2020 in Texas Monthly
Click here to read the original article.
2020. It really is its own sentence. In 2020, we’ve become more aware of and grateful for nature’s role in our mental and physical health. In 2020, conservation science has moved forward. Nature cleans our air and water, provides food, offers cost effective solutions, powers our activities, and serves as a recreational outlet. Now, more than ever, conservation is critical, and Texas is poised to lead the world in conservation innovation.
With 168 million acres of land paired with leadership in multiple sectors, Texas is fortunate to have industry leaders who see the value in partnering with conservation initiatives and developing innovative, sustainable methods and processes within their business. Texan by Nature (TxN), a conservation nonprofit founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, is dedicated to uniting conservation and business leaders in these efforts. In a time of uncertainty, we’re excited to celebrate something that is certain – the incredible work industry leaders are doing in conservation.
While no industry or business is perfect, there are leaders producing real results. The Texan by Nature 20 (TxN 20) showcases innovation, commitment, and best practices in conservation from 12 industries. Independent research aggregated public data yielding an initial list of 2,000+ companies. A 17-point scoring matrix evaluated criteria such as use of green energy, spend on conservation, and operational innovation. A cross industry selection committee ranked 60 finalists to determine the final honorees.
This year, The TxN 20 is brought to you in partnership with Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC). After the selection committee finalized the 2020 honorees, MPC stepped forward to help TxN realize the vision of broadly sharing the best practices and innovation demonstrated by the TxN 20.
MPC’s support of the TxN 20 was a natural fit, aligning with the company’s commitment to taking actions that create shared value: empowering people to achieve more, contributing to progress in its communities, and conserving resources in its operations. With $18.7 million in community investment, 55,000 volunteer hours, 39,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfills, and hundreds of millions of gallons in freshwater saved in 2019, MPC stands out as a conservation steward not only for Texas, but for the world.
The 2020 TxN 20 highlights similar industry leaders representing large companies and small across sectors as diverse as the Lone Star state itself. All of them believe our long-term prosperity and health is dependent upon the conservation of our natural resources, and that private industry has an opportunity to demonstrate a new, collaborative model of conservation for the world.
HOW WE LIVE
ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, & DEVELOPMENT, CONSTRUCTION & MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, AND TECHNOLOGY
In Texas, we have the opportunity to live well thanks to four industries providing jobs and impacting our homes, workplaces, work product, roadways, and connection to one another. The Architecture, Design & Development, Construction & Manufacturing, Energy, and Technology industries play a major role in living well. The infrastructure, tools, and products these industries provide come together to power not only Texas, but the world. This is exemplified by Texas’ number one position in energy production, #2 position in technology jobs, unique architecture offerings, and rapidly growing population. As populations in the Lone Star State continue to grow, innovative principles and technologies will help meet our state’s infrastructure, living, and working needs while ensuring community health, economic prosperity, and conservation of natural resources.
American Campus Communities (ACC), is the nation’s largest developer, owner, and manager of high-quality student housing communities, having served 200,000+ Texas college students. In every design, ACC prioritizes sustainability and believes focusing on materials and specifications improves student health and reduces operational costs, such as $4.25M saved with lighting updates.
CEMEX, is one of the largest global building materials companies in the world, providing products and services in 50+ countries. Their leadership goes beyond building materials with an operational focus on sustainability. For every acre of land under operations, CEMEX has 20.8 acres of land in conservation at its El Carmen Nature Reserve.
Cirrus Logic is an American fabless semiconductor supplier that specializes in low-power, mixed-signal integrated circuits. They showcase a commitment to environmental responsibility through programs such as employee transportation solutions that reduce carbon emissions and volunteerism that keeps local green spaces clean.
Dell is one of the largest technology companies in the world, with 165,000+ team members across 180 countries serving 16M people. Dell makes an impact through collaborative partnerships that help reduce e-waste, encourage recycling, repurpose electronic parts, and restore habitat. Since 2015, Dell has used more than 35M pounds of closed-loop plastics.
With 3,700 employees in Texas and 60,000 employees company wide, MPC is the largest independent petroleum reﬁning, marketing, retail, and midstream business in the U.S. In 2019, MPC invested $18.7M into the communities where they operate, accelerating economic growth, environmental preservation, and resource conservation.
Overland provides comprehensive services in architectural design, urban design, and master planning throughout the world – designing well known places like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Already achieving milestones in CO2 reduction, water reuse, and waste diversion, Overland is committed to transitioning to Net Zero Carbon on all projects by 2030.
With over 500 employees in Texas, Stantec provides professional consulting services internationally in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, and more. Stantec annually invests ~$3M to develop innovative technologies and approaches to encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Vistra is the largest competitive residential electricity provider in the country and serves nearly 5M residential, commercial, and industrial retail customers with electricity and natural gas. In addition to $700M invested in renewables, Vistra donated $3.5M+ to programs across 11 states in 2019 and has reclaimed 85,000+ acres of land.
WHAT WE CONSUME
AGRICULTURE, FOOD, BEVERAGE, & GROCERY, HOSPITALITY & ENTERTAINMENT, AND RETAIL
With a population of 28.9 million expected to double by 2050, Texas both produces and consumes at Texas-sized levels. Four industries are at the forefront: Agriculture, Retail, Hospitality & Entertainment, and Food, Beverage, & Grocery. Home to America’s favorite grocery, Texas produces a variety of products which are featured on shelves across the nation. With 141 million acres of private working lands, Texas provides food and fiber for the world, while also providing critical wildlife habitat and ecosystem services. Beyond food and materials, Texas is the second largest hospitality employer in the U.S. and adds $400B to GDP through retail. From reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy to conserving water and reducing waste through circular recycling initiatives, industry leaders in these categories are using innovative approaches to deliver products and services to customers, while caring for the planet.
Farmer Brothers is an American coffee roaster, wholesaler, and distributor of coffee, tea, and culinary products to the foodservice industry, serving 60,000+ establishments. While serving the finest products available, Farmer Brothers commits to sustainable cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution – diverting 527K lbs of waste in 2018 and 114 tonnes of CO2 in 2019.
Harvest Seasonal Kitchen is a community-to-table restaurant that connects North Texas communities to great food while supporting local farmers, ranchers, and artisans. In 2019 alone, Harvest welcomed 75,000 guests, providing education about local growers, sustainability, and conservation – all while diverting waste and saving energy.
America’s favorite grocery store, H-E-B, provides fresh food and quality products, employing 120,000+ partners in 300+ communities. H-E-B illustrates innovative sustainability throughout their operations, from state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly refrigeration and solar panel systems to turning used tires into rubber mulch, and more. H-E-B recycling efforts have saved the equivalent of 9M trees.
Plateau and Braun & Gresham have been proudly serving landowners in Texas for 20+ years. To date, Plateau has worked with 4,304 landowners across 138 counties to increase land value by conserving, restoring and/or improving native wildlife and habitats through science-based solutions across 1,081,880 acres.
Employing 6,500+ people in Texas, with 18,000 employees spanning five states, Sanderson Farms is the third-largest poultry producer in the U.S. Committed to sustainable operations, Sanderson Farms saved over 620M gallons of water in 2019 through utilizing reuse water.
With 57,000 associates, Sysco operates 326 distribution facilities worldwide, serving more than 625,000 locations providing food products to customers who prepare meals away from home. Building on 4M gallons of water saved, Sysco pledges to divert 90% of waste from landfills, source 20% of electricity from renewables, and more by 2025.
With 151 Texas locations, Target’s 350,000+ team members serve guests at 1,900 stores globally. In 2019, Target reused ~151M hangers through its circular recycling program. From water conservation to renewable energy, Target is focused on better products, services, and experiences for their guests and for the planet.
SERVICES WE USE
FINANCIAL SERVICES, HEALTHCARE, MUNICIPAL SERVICES, AND TRANSPORTATION
If Texas were an independent nation, it would have the 10th largest GDP on earth. There are four industries providing services that help Texas maintain its economic advantage. Financial, municipal, transportation, and healthcare services allow Texans to enjoy jobs and access to some of the best and most innovative services in the world. Pairing the largest share of roadway and rail in the U.S. with 400 airports and healthcare focused on healthy communities through sustainability and green space, Texas is able to provide healthy living and travel. Even better, leadership in the financial sector provides the capital for continued focus on conservation and innovation. Leaders in these industries are spearheading research, shaping policy, reducing emissions, becoming carbon-neutral, using wetlands to filter water for reuse, and recycling tens of thousands of tons annually.
Citi, a leading global bank with ~10,000 colleagues in Texas, has approximately 200M customer accounts and does business in 160+ countries/jurisdictions. From financing $164B in environmental activities from 2014 to 2019 to their focus on sustainable forestry standards, Citi is committed to driving positive social and environmental impact.
San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability makes San Antonio a great place to live, work, and play by enhancing the environment, quality-of-life, and economic vitality of the city through sustainability programs. From 2011 through 2019 the city completed 414 energy efficiency projects, resulting in $1.6M in cost savings annually.
DART provides public transit services to move people around North Texas, serving 70M+ people annually. Public transportation is eco-friendly by nature and commuters pocket more than $4,000 per year riding DART. DART is also committed to sustainable operations with emphasis on renewable energy, recycling, and community gardens.
DFW Airport, the second-largest U.S. airport by land area, spanning 17,2017 acres, exemplifies sustainability through land stewardship, waste diversion, energy use reduction, water reclamation, environmental education, and more. DFW Airport is also the first airport in North America and largest in the world to achieve carbon-neutral accreditation.
NTMWD is a regional wholesale provider of water, wastewater, and solid waste disposal services for ~1.8 M North Texans. Serving a population expected to double by 2050, NTMWD focuses on natural solutions such as wetlands which treated 5B+ gallons of water for reuse and provided 1,800+ acres of habitat in 2019.
Texas Health has a team of 24,000+ employees across 28 facilities. Texas Health strives to improve the health of people they serve and aims to operate sustainably through operational effectiveness, innovative care, and a high-performing culture. Evidence of their commitment includes over 21M gallons of water saved annually.