Meet Sandy Taft
What are your responsibilities as Director of Environment and Sustainability Policy at National Grid?
My overall responsibility is to think and work on what sustainability initiatives National Grid as a company might be able to bring forward. One of our overarching goals for example is to reduce our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050. That involves emissions from sources such as our power plants, our vehicles and buildings, methane emission from our gas distribution system and SF6 from certain electrical components on our electric transmission and distribution system. And I do this role collaboratively with my colleagues in the UK—emissions reduction is a global commitment. Right now we’re working on granular metrics and targets for other sustainability goals such as waste reduction, and getting specific about what we can do with efficiency in our buildings. It’s important to think through the sustainability initiatives and make sure that we are prioritizing our goals in terms of environmental and community concerns as well as economic sense. I also monitor and comment on state policy proposals and how the states intend to meet their own carbon reduction commitments – this I call the 80×50 initiative because the three states we operate in have committed to reduce economy wide GHG emissions 80% by 2050.
I’ve always been involved in environmental management issues for the company. I have a BS in geology and a MS in geology, and I started work in the company initially involved in the investigation and remediation of former Manufactured Gas Plant sites and the responsibility expanded to other environmental obligations such as air permitting, land permitting, and commenting on emerging regulations. It wasn’t until 2008 that I moved into focusing solely on climate change and sustainability initiatives. I also spent two years in the strategy group focusing on energy and environmental policy.
Tell me about something you’ve been working on recently.
I’m pretty excited about the metrics we’re starting to develop beyond just greenhouse gas emissions. One thing that we’re trying to take advantage of is all the work going on in National Grid in the Process Excellence (PEx) space! We have been trying to use PEx methods to advance the sustainability conversation. To that end, we’ve established a cross functional virtual PEx hub for sustainability–as a means to engage different employees and enable departments to be successful in achieving results with PEx. The 80×50 initiative has been exciting as well. The analytical work we are doing to understand the implications of these policy objectives really is foundational in how we relate with our customers, regulators and policy makers as well as where we want to go as a business.
What about getting other employees involved?
For one thing, National Grid has in its line of sight a statement that refers to them considering sustainability in every decision. It’s no different than the new thinking that came about with Connect21—it’s about approaching every project by considering the concerns of the customer from an affordability, community, and environmental standpoint. If we approach projects with that mindset, I think we’ll do best by our customers and by our planet.