Climate and energy
As a leading company in the machining and manufacturing sectors, GF works across divisions to make meaningful reductions in its scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions.
GF is committed to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, critical steps in the ongoing efforts to slow down climate change. As a leading company in the machining and manufacturing sectors, GF sets an example, working across divisions to make meaningful reductions in its scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions.
Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
In September 2022, GF reached an important milestone in its environmental journey when the SBTi validated the company's science-based targets (SBTs) to reduce GHG emissions along its value chain. These targets demonstrate the company's commitment to long-term climate action and its willingness to address the challenge that climate change represents for the world.
The company's goals are to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 30% by 2026. By 2030, it will also reduce its scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services and the use of sold products by 34.6% per tonne of processed material and use of sold products, using 2019 as a baseline.
To meet these ambitious goals, GF is accelerating its key measures to reduce GHG emissions across the three divisions, which have put in place roadmaps to support the company's targets and their customers’ sustainability journeys.
The SBTi is an internationally recognized framework for climate change goals that provide a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce GHG emissions, aligned with the research community’s latest understanding of climate change. Targets are considered science based if they support the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and make efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
Energy usage and GHG emissions
GF’s scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions account for about 13% of the total GHG impact of the company. The remainder comes from scope 3 emissions in the company’s value chain. The recently approved science-based targets (SBTs) consider all three scopes of emissions.
Almost 90% of the company's total GHG emissions occur in the upstream and downstream sections of its value chain; they are classified as scope 3 emissions. In 2021, GF calculated its scope 3 emissions in all 15 categories in accordance with the GHG Protocol. Four of these categories were deemed irrelevant, while two of the remaining 11 were identified as material in the 2019 emission inventory as they contribute to 90% of GF's scope 3 emissions.1 Moving forward, the company will increase its focus on reducing emissions attributable to purchased goods and services (category 1) and the use of sold products (category 11).1
Progress in 2022
GF is on track to meet its scope 1 and 2 emission reduction targets for 2022. Compared with 2021, total scope 1 and 2 emissions decreased in the reporting year by 14% and by 29% against the 2019 baseline. According to the 2022 forecast, GF increased its scope 1 emissions by 2% and reduced its scope 2 emissions by 38% compared with 2019 baseline data. This progress was due to several factors including the reduced energy consumption in China, a divestment from a joint venture (GF Linamar) in the US, energy efficiency measures and an increase in renewable energy consumption.
In 2022, renewables accounted for 31% of total energy consumption (up from 24% in 2021). The vast majority (95%) come from purchasing approximately 992’000 GJ of renewable electricity, primarily hydro and wind power. The remaining amount was self-generated hydro and solar power, and purchased renewable district heat.2 Total fuel consumption in 2022 decreased by 7% compared with 2021, mainly due to the divestment of the GF Casting Solutions site.
CO2e emissions per scope
in % of total emissions
An analysis shows that scope 3 emissions account for close to 90% of GF's CO2e emissions, while scope 1 and 2 emissions make up the remaining 10%.
in 1’000 GJ
CO2e emissions (scope 1 and 2)
in 1’000 tonnes
Renewable energy (incl. certified green electricity)
Actions for managing energy and mitigating climate impact
GF’s SBT action plan includes purchasing renewable electricity in different countries, investing in energy efficiency measures and self-generating renewable energy where possible. These actions help reduce the company's current GHG emissions as well as those projected to arise from the growth of the business.
Following the scope 2 roadmap and given that 65% of GF’s total consumed energy is electricity, increasing the amount of renewable energy is key to achieving its GHG goals. In 2022, 20 production sites purchased certified renewable electricity, covering 46% of the company's total purchased electricity. Going one step further in this area, GF Casting Solutions has committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2025. As part of this goal, in 2022, around 46% of the division's production sites purchased renewable electricity.
For the first time this past year, renewable electricity was purchased in Germany, Indonesia and the US – in addition to Austria, China, Switzerland and Turkey, where renewable electricity had been purchased.
In 2021, GF made a global commitment to invest in photovoltaic (PV) installations and installed several additional systems during 2022. To aid in this effort, GF’s project team created a manual to support sites in conducting their first economic assessments to help determine whether onsite renewables are technically possible and make economic sense for a particular location.
In 2022, three of GF Piping Systems' facilities completed solar PV installations: in Ratnagiri (India), Albershausen (Germany) and Traisen (Austria). At the Ratnagiri site, for example, solar energy now covers one-third of its electricity needs, reducing its associated emissions by around 30%. In addition to installing solar panels, the Traisen site has significantly increased – from 1’900 MWh to 5’700 MWh annually – its use of hydroelectric power, generated at a river near the factory.
GF Casting Solutions installed 2.0 MW of roof-mounted PV capacity, highlighted by a 1.4 MW system on the iron foundry in Kunshan (China) that will prevent 1’200 t of CO2e emissions each year. The division also completed a 0.6 MW PV installation in Shenyang (China) that will avoid 700 t of CO2e emissions annually. In addition, construction work is ongoing for a 1.0 MW installation in Suzhou (China).
In 2022, 50% of GF Casting Solutions’ total electricity demand came from renewable generation, using sources aligned with SBTi requirements. Overall, 31% of the division’s total energy demand was supplied by renewable sources, and it is planning more on-site PV and hydropower projects for its European plants in 2023.
In Switzerland, GF Machining Solutions completed a 0.122 MW solar system at its facility in Langnau and a 1.5 MW system at its facility in Biel/Bienne, the latter of which should supply around 25% of the site’s annual electricity demand. Its site in Schorndorf (Germany) has also installed a 0.44 MW solar PV system, which it expects to become operational in the first quarter of 2023.
Several GF Machining Solutions sites are also exploring large-scale solar PV installations, including a location in the Czech Republic.
The investment in renewables is paying off. During 2022, GF Machining Solutions' Swiss sites in Langnau and Biel/Bienne joined the System 3R International facility in Vällingby (Sweden) as carbon-neutral sites.
In 2022, Vällingby production site reduced its scope 1 and 2 emissions significantly and the remaining 1 t (<0.01% of GF's scope 1 emissions) of residual emissions (from company cars) was offset using a certified Swiss-based forestry project. The Langnau and Biel/Bienne facilities reduced their scope 1 and 2 CO2e emissions by at least 90% compared with 2019 adjusted baseline data by purchasing renewable electricity. Biel/Bienne's switch from natural gas to biogas heating also contributed to this outcome.
The most important step a company can take to reduce its GHG impact is to increase energy efficiency wherever possible. GF's leadership has made it their priority and supports efforts across the divisions to identify opportunities for energy efficiency.
For example, the Sustainability team at GF Piping Systems collaborated with the Global Manufacturing team to organize several best practice exchanges on energy efficiency across different sites. The exchange allowed sites to share their best practices and identify local actions to increase energy efficiency.
Furthermore, GF Piping Systems launched a pilot program at three sites in Turkey that, with the help of a leakage detection device, regularly checks for leaks in air pressure systems, which are a common source of energy inefficiency and increased operating costs for manufacturing companies. Currently, the average observed leak rate in the plastic processing industry is around 40%.3
In the pilot project at GF Hakan's plants in Çerkezköy and Şanlıurfa (both in Turkey):
- 354 leaks were identified
- 45% of identified leaks were eliminated
- More than CHF 60’000 were saved, with potentially higher ongoing savings due to rising energy costs
The success of these pilot programs led GF Piping Systems to implement this initiative across Europe and develop plans to launch the program in the Americas.
The division has also launched several energy efficiency initiatives across all sites, such as replacing injection-molding machines and installing LED lighting and free cooling chiller units. GF Hakan in Turkey is working to become ISO 50001 certified by pursuing several measures, including retrofitting its existing machines with insulation and recovering their waste heat for other purposes.
In 2022, various GF Piping Systems facilities in the US invested in plastic processing machines and replaced several old injection molding machines with more efficient models. By using servo-hydraulic drives and variable displacement pumps, each new machine is expected to reduce its associated energy consumption by up to 50% compared to conventional machines.
Two US locations of GF Harvel – Bakersfield, CA, and Easton, PA – replaced four old chillers with new, more efficient air-cooled models to supply process water. These replacement chillers increase line performance, reduce production scrap and improve energy efficiency through new drive and fan technology.
The Bakersfield and Easton sites also deployed Project Shine, where teams inspect each production line to assess and repair any safety, mechanical or cosmetic issues. Bakersfield has completed three of its nine extrusion lines and Easton has completed six of its 22 extrusion lines. GF expects full completion of the project during 2023.
GF Casting Solutions continued its energy efficiency program at all production sites by upgrading equipment such as compressors, frequency conversion motors and improving general infrastructure. In addition, every month, the division’s environment, health and safety (EHS) managers and energy managers share information about the status of their projects to help strengthen its global network.
For example, the optimized heat recovery process at GF Casting Solutions in Novazzano (Switzerland) now fuels all internal hot water systems with process heat, eliminating the need for oil heating. At the Herzogenburg (Austria) site, it implemented new software that allows the energy-optimized ramp-up and shut-down of ovens on days without active production. Compared with 2021, the site reduced its electricity consumption by 10%.
Building for the future
In accordance with GF's Environmental Standards, all newly constructed or renovated buildings include planning for energy efficiency measures from the outset of a project.
For example, a new GF Piping Systems plant in Yangzhou (China) has been built to maximize energy efficiency and minimize its environmental impact, with energy-saving features including:
- heat recovery from compressors to heat shower water
- geothermal energy to heat and cool offices
- LED lighting installations
- roof tower cooling
The site also uses GF’s COOL-FIT technology for the energy-efficient design and operation of its cooling systems.
GF Casting Solutions also completed a new plant in Shenyang, its second high-pressure die-casting (HPDC) plant in China. The 80’000 m² plant features die casting machines with closing forces of up to 4’400 t each. The plant uses the latest environmental and climate-friendly technologies, such as light chimneys (a system that uses a mirror tube to direct and diffuse natural daylight into building interiors), on-site solar panels and e-mobility charging stations.
Both the Yangzhou and Shenyang sites are on track to receive LEED Silver certification and several ISO certifications4 by the end of 2023.
GF Signet is moving its operations into a new upgraded facility in Irwindale, CA (US) that is expected to receive LEED Silver certification. This facility has a target to achieve a 50% reduction in grid electricity use, including >18% reduction in consumption through energy efficiency measures and a >50% reduction by generating on-site renewable energy. The site will also have sub-metering of its water and electricity systems, part of its sustainability strategy to support data-driven reductions and greater consumption transparency.
Part of the comprehensive strategy to reduce GHG emissions across the company includes electrifying the logistics and transport solutions utilized in GF’s operations. GF Casting Solutions is reducing its intercompany transport emissions through two new initiatives. In 2022, the first e-truck for its Austrian plants in Altenmarkt and Herzogenburg was ordered. It will make its Austrian intercompany and external warehouse logistics CO2e neutral and save up to 75 t of CO2e emissions annually.
Additionally, at its iron foundry in Leipzig (Germany), GF Casting Solutions has decided to upgrade three of its heavy-load forklifts (up to 5 t each) with electric versions. The division also continued fulfilling the updated car leasing requirements in 2022 to ensure that each replacement model is a 100% battery electric vehicle (BEV), with three BEVs currently in use and 21 additional vehicles on order.
Efforts to reduce scope 3 emissions
At the end of 2021, GF finalized its first scope 3 assessment, which identified actions to address and reduce supply chain emissions. Following on from this, in 2022, the divisions focused on defining project teams, creating business cases and working through the first stages of their CO2e reduction roadmaps. GF is already exploring several opportunities to reduce emissions in its value chain, including material substitution, supplier engagement and more efficient logistics services.
GF Piping Systems is creating scope 3 roadmaps with its plastic resin suppliers to commercialize more bio-based materials and reduce the CO2e intensity of its piping solutions. The division introduced bio-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in its industrial PVC portfolio in Europe in late 2021. Between January and October 2022, the division processed more than 1’000 t of bio-attributed PVC in its European operations. This achievement made it one of the first pressurized industrial piping companies to process bio-based PVC commercially. By processing bio-based materials, the division is reducing its scope 3 emissions and offers customers solutions with a lower carbon footprint.
In addition, GF Piping Systems is approaching suppliers to collaborate on other CO2e-reducing initiatives. Using a supplier assessment tool, it is seeking to foster collaborations on more sustainable materials and renewable energy projects.
To reduce its scope 3 emissions, GF Casting engaged with key suppliers, particularly those supplying raw materials such as aluminum and magnesium, to explore opportunities to source materials with lower GHG footprints. For example, the scaling of low-carbon technologies is crucial to achieving long-term emission reductions.
In 2022, the division also joined several industry networks to improve material specifications and recycling rates, and increase the use of secondary (recycled) materials. In addition, it has integrated robust scope 3 reporting in its procurement system, providing greater visibility and tracking of emissions along its value chain.
During the year, GF Casting also held capacity-building workshops with key suppliers to explain its emission-reduction efforts, share its expectations and encourage key stakeholders to reduce their emissions. In this effort, the division reached suppliers representing close to 50% of its total external spend.
GF Machining Solution’ logistics networks have a relatively small environmental footprint, however, the division continually seeks different ways to minimize its impact. This includes analyzing its transport systems to achieve greater optimization, reducing the amount of shipping required and adopting greener forms of transport, such as using sea freight instead of air freight.
During 2022, the division also continued with its "InOutIn" sustainable delivery system, which helps dramatically reduce the amount of packaging and transport needed to deliver each machine. This system features custom-equipped Euro 6 trucks for greater fuel efficiency, an efficient packaging solution (going from 750 kg of wood in the previous packaging method to 15 kg of wood with this system) and efficient truck loading as more machines can be transported per truck due to the reduction of packaging. Furthermore, the efficient packaging solution allows for shorter installation times at the customer site due to the simplification of the packaging. In 2023, the division will continue refining its "InOutIn" system to make its deliveries even simpler and more sustainable.