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Northwestern Mutual Sustainability and Social Impact: Reducing Our Environmental Impact

Thursday, 02 May 2024 10:15 AM

We ensure our actions and investments demonstrate commitment to people and planet.

Originally published in Northwestern Mutual 2023 Sustainability and Social Impact Report

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / May 2, 2024 / Since 1857, Northwestern Mutual has been committed to doing what's right-working to deliver positive, transformative results for generations to come. The value we place on both today and tomorrow requires a commitment to environmental sustainability; we work to be good stewards for our policyowners and clients, our people and our communities.

We manage our day-to-day facility operations to reduce our climate impact through energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management and a continued focus on our carbon footprint. We also recognize the importance of the relationship between spaces and the people who will use them, from our corporate employees and financial advisors and representatives to members of the public enjoying our campus. Our environmental sustainability commitment carries through to our investment strategy and to the investment products we offer consumers.


Building design, construction and operation at Northwestern Mutual considers the environment as well as people's health and well-being. We've built to sustainability standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), focused on environmental impact and sustainability, and the WELL Building Standard, focused on people's health and wellness. We have 3.27 million square feet of corporate office space across three campuses-and more than 40% of that office space is LEED Gold certified (our Milwaukee Tower, Commons and Van Buren buildings). This matters because LEED buildings use, on average, 25% less energy than conventional buildings1. As part of our commitment to environmental protection, we continue to find new ways to increase facility energy efficiency, reduce water use and waste, and expand focus on our carbon footprint.

Energy efficiency and focus on carbon footprint

As part of our efforts to better understand and measure Northwestern Mutual's impact on the environment, we're expanding the metrics we use to measure our exposure to climate risk. This includes accounting for our scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions consistent with Greenhouse Gas Protocol guidelines.

In 2024, we're rolling out enhanced Energy Manager software to gather data from our Milwaukee and Franklin campus building systems, diagnose underperforming equipment, forecast energy use, and prioritize action. We're adding HVAC submeters to improve energy tracking in our Van Buren office building. Daylight sensor harvesting will help reduce overhead light use and yield substantial savings. We've also invested in refrigerant recovery and reduction, and in using more eco-friendly options.

Water and waste management

Our focus on environmental stewardship inspires us to conserve water and decrease and divert waste from our corporate operations.

In programs that date back nearly 100 years, the cafeterias at our Milwaukee and Franklin campuses minimize food waste by planning and buying ingredients accurately, using "just in time" food production and composting organic materials. Partnering with local food and composting providers, this year we diverted thousands of pounds of food waste from landfills.

We engage employees in continually decreasing waste, coordinating recycling of paper, plastic, cardboard, metal, batteries, shoes, glasses, ink pens and more- with a specialized technology recycling program to address computers, monitors, printers and other equipment. In 2023, we also removed bottled water from our cafeterias and break areas, promoting water stations for reusable cups and drink containers.

Our rooftop gardens on the Milwaukee campus-planted with 34,000 square feet of plants and foliage-divert more than 500,000 gallons of stormwater runoff a year.

Enhanced employee experience

We know the physical environment affects people's well-being and the work they're capable of doing. Northwestern Mutual considers employee feedback and empathetic design to create a welcoming environment that supports health, comfort and connection as well as productivity. In addition to our renowned free lunch for employees, we offer:

  • Increased focus on air quality, with regular third-party testing
  • Natural lighting and green spaces to encourage well-being
  • Museum-quality art experiences to foster vibrant, innovative and diverse physical and cultural environments
  • Free exhibitions of relevant contemporary artwork by notable artists in our public indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Electric vehicle charging stations at our Milwaukee and Franklin campuses now available at no cost to employees
  • Technology that lets employees submit facility service requests using their mobile devices, helping identify opportunities to save energy and reduce potential water waste


Our cross-functional Climate Risk Stakeholder Group, accountable to the Enterprise Risk Executive Committee, is an extension of Northwestern Mutual's time-tested governance practices. These subject matter experts:

  • Conduct physical and transition climate risk and opportunity identification and analysis as part of the company's enterprise risk prioritization and assessment processes.
  • Determine integration points for climate-related risks and opportunities into operations, strategic planning, and reporting.
  • Identify emerging climate risk practices, guidance and standards through close monitoring of and engagement with regulators, policymakers and other key stakeholders.

For more information about how Northwestern Mutual assesses and manages climate-related risk, see our annual Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) filing administered by the California Department of Insurance on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.


Northwestern Mutual aims to use its best efforts to invest at least 5% of general account assets in socially and environmentally responsible investments without compromising return objectives. It's good for business-and the right thing to do. We've consistently exceeded our target; such investments today total more than $24.8 billion. For retail investment clients interested in this focus, we offer a variety of responsible investment options.

General account investments

As a mutual company, Northwestern Mutual exists for the benefit of our policyowners. We seek to maximize long-term value through superior returns while maintaining exceptional financial strength, taking a balanced portfolio approach focused on diversification. We also believe proactively integrating social and environmental factors will enhance our investment process and outcomes. In particular, we focus on:

  • Environmentally responsible investments that support or are sensitive to the environment, including public and private corporate and sovereign green, social, sustainable, and sustainability linked-bonds and loans linked to renewable and alternative energy projects, projects qualifying for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing, real estate investments that meet nationally recognized sustainable building and occupant wellness standards, and projects that invest in cleaning up state and federal environmentally contaminated sites. We're also exploring approaches to the low carbon transition through thoughtful allocation of capital and a variety of initiatives.
  • Socioeconomically responsible investments that promote goals such as affordable housing, healthcare access, economic development through education and social infrastructure projects in underdeveloped areas, and success for businesses with owners from underrepresented groups.

Impact Investment Fund investments that generate social benefits, such as deploying capital to underserved communities and businesses, looking to enhance capital access, physical or social infrastructure, or underserved neighborhoods.

Examples of these investments include the following:

  • Environmental transformation. Northwestern Mutual's real estate investment team is partnering to redevelop more than 30 acres near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, a site that had housed a petroleum bulk facility and transfer station since 1960. The site had included piping infrastructure and 15 above-ground steel tanks, 2,000 to 3.36 million gallons each, containing gasoline, diesel, ethanol and other fuel additives. Northwestern Mutual's investment requires this equipment to be decommissioned and the property decontaminated, consistent with the partners' Soil and Groundwater Management Plan. We will then develop four LEED-certified warehouse buildings on the site while creating hundreds of jobs in this densely populated area.
  • Affordable housing. Our local Impact Fund is invested in the Milwaukee Community Land Trust's "Homes MKE" initiative, which seeks to preserve access to affordable homeownership. Since 2010, Milwaukee has lost 15-20% homeownership in underserved neighborhoods, largely due to out-of-town acquisitions of city property. Families in these neighborhoods face headwinds to homeownership including low income, education about the homebuying process, and affordability. The Milwaukee County Land Trust, with the help of Northwestern Mutual, addresses all three headwinds. Low-income residents can purchase homes at or below market prices, based on neighborhood property value, cost to redevelop, and family income. In return, homebuyers agree to sell their home to other qualified individual homebuyers in the future, making affordable homeownership opportunities available to future generations.
  • Responsible investments for our clients We offer a suite of responsible investment options for retail investment clients looking to match their values with value. These offerings include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and individual securities that, like all other offerings, are rooted in Northwestern Mutual's proprietary capital market assumptions and disciplined approach to investing, with the common objective of maximizing risk-adjusted return. Learn more about these investment options at

Learn more about Northwestern Mutual's commitment to reducing our environmental impact in the 2023 Sustainability and Social Impact Report.

1U.S. Green Building Council, "Top 10 reasons to certify to LEED"

View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Northwestern Mutual on

Contact Info:
Spokesperson: Northwestern Mutual
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

Environmental, Social and Governance
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