Over a period of many years, Acea Group has systemised its approaches to management, including initiating a path of monitoring and accounting for environmental performance. The first “eco-balance” reported by Acea dates back to 1994, and the first Environmental Report to internationally accredited standards dates to 1999 (ENI Enrico Mattei Foundation Guidelines).
Over the years, the monitoring and reporting systems have continued to evolve, bringing about a progressive systemisation of environmental management, with implementation of ISO standard 14001, in some cases further evolved towards EMAS registration EMAS (Eco- Management and Audit Scheme).
The publication of the Acea Policy on Quality Environment, Safety and Energy, and in 2014, the institution of the Work and Environment Safety Unit within the parent company’s Safety and Protection Division, provided the groundwork for implementation of a
system of integrated Quality, Environment, Safety and Energy, certified in December 2014.
The system is the fulcrum of an organisational and management model operating in synergy with the Environmental Legislation Unit of the parent company Legal and Corporate Affairs Division. The unit is responsible for coordinating environmental compliance and indicating general guidelines for the Group companies, so that their approaches to environmental protection conform to the principles of the Code of Ethics.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN THE GROUP CODE OF ETHICS
Article 20 of the Code of Ethics is devoted to Environmental protection: “Acea is mindful of environmental concerns and aware of the strategic role of the environment as an instrument for enhancing corporate value. As such, it considers responsible and scrupulous conduct with regard to the protection of the environment, health and safety, as integral to the role of each and every employee and collaborator. Acea is committed to adopting strategies targeted at the continuous improvement of results in the area of environmental protection, focusing its efforts on preventing pollution and minimising environmental risks and impact, and acting in accordance with the following principles:
- the sustainable management of natural resources and energy, guaranteeing their correct usage and increasing recourse to renewable sources, focusing particularly on reducing waste and the rational use of resources also by consumers;
- planning and implementing production processes and company activities with criteria aimed at preventing pollution and possible accidents, reducing environmental impact, safeguarding the health and safety of employees and the population, and adopting, to this end, the best available techniques on the market and verifying their reliability in the operations and maintenance of the plants;
- defining specific environmental goals and improvement programmes aimed at minimising significant environmental impact;
- the use of suitable control instruments and monitoring systems on the main environmental aspects generated by its operations and on the adopted improvement programmes;
- adopting certified environmental and quality management systems;
- promoting internal environmental awareness and training activities, pursuing the growth and spread of ecological awareness and a sense of responsibility;
- annually drafting the Sustainability Report, also understood as an essential information and communications tool, in terms of both quantity and quality, as regards the actions undertaken and planned by Acea to protect the ecosystem and minimise environmental risks;
- collaborating with institutions, Public Administration and associations and initiatives designed to protect and promote the environment.”
Acea Group’s strong push towards systemisation of environmental management has brought the very positive result that the large part of plants and production processes are now conducted in conformity with the UNI EN ISO 14001:2004 standard, and in some cases EMAS registration (also see Corporate Identity, Management Systems for all certifications of Group companies active in 2014, or in implementation stages). The principles of continuous improvement are a strong point of Acea management, favouring dynamics of effective environmental protection with resultant reduction in risks and costs. The planning process foreseen under ISO System 14001 calls for periodic establishment of new efficiency thresholds in environmental management. The ISO system also calls for monitoring of performance indicators, permitting evaluation of the directions undertaken and early observation of warning signals, which can then be corrected in timely manner.
The operating companies are committed to very high standards for efficient management of environmental matters, but there can still be situations, generally caused by external circumstances, that generate non-conformity, which can then proceed to intervention by the competent Regulatory authorities.
Over 2014 the Group was subject to around 700 environmentally related actions (citations and fines), which led to payment of 50 fines, for an economic value of around 112,500 euros (73,139 euros allocated to Acea Ato 2 and 34,000 euros to Publiacqua).
MANAGING AND MONITORING OPERATIONS THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Acea monitors the activities and processes that have the potential of environmental impacts. The Group pays particular attention to management of inherently dangerous materials present in the productive plants, including:
- Asbestos – used as construction material until the 1970s, then banned and subject to strict regulations where still present;
- Sulphur hexafluoride – use in high-voltage electrical plants as insulation fluid;
- Dielectric oil - used in power transformers as isolating and cooling fluid.
Acea, in adherence to the Italian Ministerial Decree of 06/09/94, named an Asbestos Officer, with responsibilities for monitoring and coordinating maintenance activities for buildings and plants documented as presenting asbestos risks. Prior to any sort of intervention in these structures, the Officer provides for on-site surveys and orders the chemical analyses necessary for quantitative assessments, then giving instructions on the ways works can be conducted, according to the results. This procedure ensures a high level of safety from the outset, and progressive establishment of remedial responses should the ongoing monitoring then reveal that asbestos is truly present.
Group companies manage sulphur hexafluoride with maximum care to avoid leaks and uncontrolled atmospheric emissions, given that the material results in strong greenhouse effects. Dedicated sensors and close monitoring of maintenance are used to keep control over potential environmental impacts, particularly during maintenance operations.
For the Rome and Formello electrical distribution networks, operated under government concession, Acea maintains maximum attention to the power transformers, which are essential components to the operation of the entire system. Mineral oil has always been used as the insulating and cooling fluid for transformer working parts, due its positive technical characteristic. However, mineral oil also presents critical environmental risk due its characteristics as a refined petroleum product. For this, at the end of 2014, began experiments using a new vegetable-origin oil that presents characteristics similar to mineral oil, but with the advantage of almost 100% biodegradability. The experiments involve six MV/LV transformers of up to 630 kVA and filled with the new vegetable oil, which are being put in operation in 2015 and then kept under monitoring to determine the feasibility of extending the application to other equipment (see also the report section Research).