United for Climate Neutrality
The Climate Action Challenge global contest made it possible for an Avio Aero team to succeed and learn more about themselves, while having a beneficial impact on the environment around.
GE’s commitment, with its intention to achieve carbon neutrality at all of its industrial centers by 2030, is part of a global effort that extends to more than 1,000 facilities worldwide and is reflected in new investments, waste reduction, and both alternative and smart energy sources. The key to such a commitment, of course, is none other than the thousands of people who make up GE and Avio Aero.
And it is precisely the combination of ideas and strengths of so many people that has determined the success of an initiative such as the Climate Action Challenge: a worldwide contest among all GE sites that, at the final count, involved 69 different teams. Ten teams from Avio Aero took part and one, dubbed “Innovavio” for the occasion and coming from the Brindisi plant, distinguished itself by winning an award.
Daniela Dell'Anna, with Avio Aero since 2011 and currently the MRO Material Planner in Brindisi, led the team and worked on the project for the Climate Action Challenge. “As soon as we heard about the initiative, we decided to join forces with a few colleagues and take up the challenge,” said Daniela. “The work lasted for about 90 days, involving the first proposal and the subsequent implementation of an environmentally sustainable project to be developed in the plant. And so, we set out to create a team made up of different business functions and formed Innovavio, which includes Caterina Montuori, Lucia Squillari, Tommaso Fischietto, Carlo Rampino and Davide Rausa.”
The “Innovavio” team was also assigned a coach from GE Aerospace during the competition: a sustainability expert to support the team in realizing their sustainable idea. “During the brainstorming phase, we examined a good number of ideas: for example, sharing the use of redundant energy produced by one of our neighboring companies, then we analyzed reusing waste water from the canteen at the plant, or solar charging for cellphones during lunch breaks in the canteen."
"We will build a 1 MW photovoltaic power station on a plot of land in an undeveloped area owned by our facility covering a surface of about 2 hectares to meet 10% of the electricity consumption needs"
From these ideas, a couple were kept under observation as they were deemed worthy of being considered and possibly implemented in the future. “Initially we were a bit skeptical and confused to tell the truth, but we were stubborn and united and made it all the way,” said Daniela when commenting on achieving second place overall in the Aerospace business. In fact, the Brindisi team focused all its energy on the winning project, which involved installing solar panels at the company.
"We will build a 1 MW photovoltaic power station with a solar tracking system on a plot of land in an undeveloped area owned by our facility covering a surface of about 2 hectares, to meet 10% of the electricity consumption needs at the plant," explained Daniela, who was delighted and proud of where they placed in the final ranking.
GE Aerospace then assigned a monetary award that, commendably, the "Innovavio" team decided to invest in olive trees, one of the most valuable resources in Salento (where Avio Aero Brindisi is based). Since 2010, unfortunately, the unstoppable spread of Xylella, the awful killer bacterium that attacks and destroys olive trees, has been wiping out years of sacrifice on the part of thousands of local farmers and the main source of carbon offsetting in Salento.
The team has adopted 40 trees, creating an olive grove and supporting the reforestation of its territory through the “Olivami, Adopt an Olive Tree, Save Salento” association: the extra-virgin olive oil produced from these trees will be used in part by the company canteen to garnish uncooked dishes and in part donated to the local charity agency, Caritas.
A practice, namely that of reforestation, which had already found “fertile ground” in Avio Aero during campaigns such as the one carried out with Treedom, which involved employees. So, between weekly meetings and calls that often overlapped with the tasks and commitments of their respective roles, the "Innovavio" team was able to come to cohesive decisions and organize schedules to ensure project continuity. Like an experienced crew, the team also adopted a weekly Logbook with a detailed description of the project's progress and minutes for each meeting.
It was an extremely inspiring experience, according to Caterina Montuori, a System Engineer at Brindisi. “The realization of certain projects is never easy. There are so many obstacles that make their implementation complex. Often, in everyday’s conversations, we often speak in general terms when asked to think about and implement sustainable actions: the fact is that we are trying to organize a revolution from the ground up which, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge.”
Participating in the Climate Action Challenge encouraged inventiveness in Daniela, Caterina and the others on the team: also thanks to the coach's advice throughout the period, they dedicated all of their energy to the project, even involving colleagues, and organized small gatherings to raise awareness and promote Green initiatives, such as cleaning up the small park on the grounds of the facility, planting flowers and shrubs, eating lunch outdoors, and using eco-friendly means to travel to work.
The time spent working on issues such as changing habits and working to mitigate and adapt to climate change has resulted in a different way of looking at things. “We believe that we need to invest more in our health and well-being, and we wanted to send a message of awareness, especially looking ahead to the upcoming holiday season,” Daniela added. “Healthy eating and exercising regularly helps you to keep fit and ensure better levels of performance, as well as healing the biodiversity threatened by unsustainable habits."
And it also helped to reflect on what can make a difference between individuals as well as in large organizations. "If you look at the results of COP27, it is clear that the ‘vision’ of many organizations has little concrete focus on the issues of sustainability. And it is equally difficult to get pragmatic answers from the institutions themselves while change, with regard to the environment and resources, must in my opinion become a priority," Caterina concluded.