If every large organisation focussed on decreasing its environmental footprint and increasing its social responsibility, the global impact would be vast. Airbus launched the Blue5 project, which sets out the roadmap for reducing the environmental footprint of its manufacturing activities.

This initiative – named after the five key streams of efficiency – oversees large industrial and building projects but also enables all employees to contribute, through the small changes each person can make to reduce the environmental footprint.

An innovative solar cooling system is used to replace air conditioning at an Airbus production facility in Toulouse. The key advantage of this process is the ability to produce cold temperatures with solar energy. A new biomass boiler also covers two thirds of the site’s heating needs and uses renewable energy; the 22,000 tonnes of wood burnt annually come from sustainable local forests certified PEFC and situated less than 50 kilometres from the site.

At Airbus’ facility at Filton in the United Kingdom, hundreds of people have embraced an inter-building “How Low Can You Go?” challenge to save energy; while in Broughton in Wales, employees have been learning how to save fuel by driving more economically via a simulator provided by the Energy Saving Trust.

But energy saving and CO2 reductions are not the only focus – the other three parts of Blue5 include water, waste and volatile organic compounds.

In Spain, recycled rivets from production are donated to an NGO that exchanges them for lentils, provided to disadvantaged communities. The reduction of drinking water use at the Hamburg plant is achieved by taking water from the River Elbe for industrial usage. And a reduction of solvent use is achieved at all Airbus’ European sites through using impregnated wipes, encapsulated spray guns and water-based primers.