Motorola Sustainability

Top Ten Cleantech Initiatives of Motorola (NYSE:MSI)

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted August 1, 2011

Motorola Solutions is a multinational telecommunications company based out of Schaumburg, Illinois. In January of 2011, Motorola, Inc. was split into two companies: Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions. Motorola Solutions is a leading provider of mission-critical communication products and services for enterprise and government customers. Like many other companies in this industry, Motorola has realized the chance to increase sustainability around the world through the creation and establishment of sustainability practices and technologies that will reduce carbon footprint and make businesses, homes, and people more energy efficient.

1) Safe Subways Using Less Energy. The Madrid Metro system has 293 stations and more than 2.5 million men and women use it on a daily basis. This is why the operators use the Motorola Solutions TETRA radio network to keep passengers safe and keep the metro system running effectively. This generation technology offers amazing benefits and is more energy efficient. For example, just about twice the number of voice calls is carried than what the metro communications system was carrying previously but the new system requires up to 50 percent less energy. And because only one server cabinet is required and not six, cooling needs and space is reduced.

2) New RFID Technologies Offer More Efficient Operations. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology created by Motorola Solutions assists customers in saving money and decreasing their environmental footprints through making operations and distribution more efficient. This reduces overall energy consumption and. RFID technology when utilized in supermarkets, for example, prevents waste by offering supermarket managers information such as sell-by dates of all perishable goods, preventing unnecessary re-ordering. Many logistics companies utilize RFID to coordinate their delivery and pick-up schedules, resulting in fuel saving and carbon dioxide emissions-reducing capabilities.

3) Coordination with Workers in the Field. Numerous businesses have employees who work in the field, either delivering goods, making sales, or responding to a variety of service calls. Motorola Solutions offers mobile computers with top grade GPS technology that enables dispatch to accurately route and schedule different field workers. Aside from improving overall efficiency and increasing positive customer service, this solution helps extend the life of all company vehicles through reducing wear and tear associated with being on the road. The technology allows drivers to navigate the quickest route to the destination, avoiding wrong turns and traffic, thereby reducing fuel cost and carbon dioxide emissions. The mobile computers also transmit information electronically, reducing the need for paper.

4) Using Smart Energy Grids. Motorola Solutions is involved in pilot projects with utility companies in the United States that are looking to operate in a more energy efficient manner and distribution systems. The wireless broadband technology created by Motorola Solutions assists in managing smart grids to make the energy system more efficient and much more secure. The smart grids use broadband communications to offer continual flows of data for utility companies to monitor the production, distribution and consumption of energy. They can also help consumers monitor energy consumption through the use of smart meters which allow them to utilize energy when energy rates are lower, and use programs that control HVAC systems and other devices that consume energy, such as water heaters and pool pumps.

5) Employee Awareness. With Motorola Solutions, it is not just about making the customers aware of environmental actions, but raising employee awareness is also important. For example, on Earth Day 2010, Motorola Solutions launched their global initiative to reduce the amount of paper used. At Motorola Solutions offices all around the globe, awareness was raised about the overall environmental impact of paper production and employees were encouraged to recycle more and use less paper. For example, the Bangkok, Thailand office collects one-sided printed out pages in a special box and after checking the pages over for confidential information, the pages are bound into notebooks and donated to schools in the area. This has allowed the office to reuse over 99 percent of all printed paper.

6) Solar and Wind Energy. In 2007, Motorola Solutions was granted a contract with the U.S. Army to build new secure wide area, digital narrowband, trunked land mobile radio system to cover Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range and its NASA construction and testing facility, and Holloman Air Force Base. The project required using alternative energy to power the system due to the wide distances between the facilities. Motorola Solutions partnered with a number of organizations to successfully use solar and wind power to complete the project. The success has cause the U.S. Army to consider using solar and wind power at other sites as well.

7) Motorola Received 2010 Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Leadership Award. In 2010 Motorola was the recipient of the 2010 Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. The award recognizes leading green power purchasers for their contribution and commitment to assisting in the advancement of the development of the green power market. At the time of the award, Motorola was purchasing approximately 119 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, which is equivalent to, according to the EPA, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions stemming from over 16,000 passenger cars per year, or the total quantity of electricity required to power over 10,000 average homes in the United States per year.

8 ) Recycling Initiatives. Motorola operates a “take back” programs on its own as well as in partnership with a number of different carriers, retailers, and recycling programs. In the United States and Canada, for example, Motorola Solutions operates a take-back initiative for government and public safety related products and equipment, such as radios, and enterprise equipment, such as bar code scanners and mobile computers. Customers use the online booking system in order to request the collection of the equipment. In the United States, customers are also encourages to hand in their used devices when getting upgrades by offering credit towards the newer purchase.

9) Packaging Initiatives. Motorola Solutions is always looking for ways to reduce the volume and weight of their product packaging through a number of packaging initiatives. This includes providing bulk solutions in an effort to decrease shipping cost and value and expanding the overall utilization of recycled materials. To improve product packaging, a number of steps have been taken, including providing alternative bulk packaging, reducing product packaging, and guaranteeing that all packaging materials are to be identified with the internationally recognized recycling symbols.

10) Product Initiatives. Motorola Solutions is looking to decrease the environmental footprint of all products by locating alternative options that reduce the impact of all lifecycle stages, including the design, manufacturing, distribution, use, and the end of life cycle of all products. There are a number of design principles Motorola Solutions uses when it comes to the products, including reduce packaging, improve energy efficiency, use materials that are better for the environment, increase the overall recyclability of products, and go beyond required compliance to reduce carbon footprints.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at