Cummins pushes forward to meet 2020 environmental goals

The new water hub coming on line in 2020 at the Cummins engine plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, will enable the plant to significantly increase the amount of water it reuses.
The new water hub coming on line in 2020 at the Cummins engine plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, will enable the plant to significantly increase the amount of water it reuses.

Six years after announcing its first global environmental sustainability plan, Cummins achieved three of seven 2020 goals a year early and was very close to a fourth.

Meanwhile, the company significantly offset the electricity it uses with renewable energy – part of the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) goal it narrowly missed achieving in 2019.

But it’s unclear how many of the 2020 goals the company will actually achieve when the books are closed on the year in early 2021. Some of the goals are adjusted for hours worked, which declined significantly in 2020 due to company-announced actions in response to COVID-19. 

The global pandemic forced shut-downs at many Cummins locations to fight the spread of the virus. When facilities reopened, operations changed significantly to keep employees safe. Hours spent on extensive cleaning and disposal of personal protective equipment could offset any environmental savings from the shut-downs. 

Cover of the 2019 Sustainability Progress Report
The 2019 Sustainability Progress Report is available on the company's sustainability web page along with a copy of Cummins' new Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Report index,


Cummins in 2019 continued to exceed the carbon dioxide (CO2) savings it expected to achieve by 2020 through partnering with customers on fuel economy projects, avoiding 17 million metric tons of CO2 through the end of 2019.

The company also surpassed its 2020 water reduction target in 2019, a goal that was increased just a few years after Cummins’ global environmental sustainability plan was announced in 2014. The target was raised after the company surpassed its original goal.

Cummins also reached its goal of establishing 15 water neutral sites in 2019 as company plants worked with local communities to offset their water use by establishing new water sources or developing community-based water conservation efforts.

The 2019 year-end energy intensity performance was just one percentage point shy of the company’s 32% goal. Cummins, however, made a significant step forward in its goal to use and promote renewable sources of energy. A northwest Indiana (U.S.) wind farm expansion the company is supporting through a virtual power purchase agreement completed its first full year of operation in 2019.

While the power generated by the expansion doesn’t go directly to Cummins, the company’s share of the expansion is now producing nearly as much electricity as Cummins uses at its facilities in its headquarters state of Indiana.

The company also exceeded its goal to certify 40 of Cummins’ highest energy use facilities to the ISO 50001 Standard, which makes efficiency part of the company’s everyday operations.


But Cummins saw only a modest increase to 91% toward its recycling goal of 95% as waste reduction efforts also reduced the volume of some relatively easy to recycle items.

The number of sites certified as Zero Disposal increased from 15 in 2018 to 23 in 2019 as the company made solid progress toward its goal of 30 sites by the end of 2020.

Cummins also saw progress in its logistics goal to reduce CO2 per kilogram of goods shipped, reaching 7% compared to its goal of 10%. 


No matter what happens in 2020, the company will continue to be goal driven when it comes to its environmental performance in 2021 and beyond. That’s because in 2019 Cummins adopted a new environmental strategy called PLANET 2050. It includes goals for 2030 and aspirations extending to 2050.

“Since our communities and businesses depend on a healthier planet, we will take strong action on climate change and work toward a future where we waste nothing,” said Brian Mormino, Executive Director of Technical & Environmental Systems at Cummins.

To learn more, check out the report on the company’s environmental performance starting on page 20 of the 2019 Sustainability Progress Report.

2019 Environmental Summary Graphic
This graphic summarizes Cummins' progress on its environmental goals in 2019..


blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]


Connectivity to sustainability, the future of the rail industry looks different

Connectivity to sustainability, the future of the rail industry looks different

Zephyr locomotives, named after the Greek god of wind, got everyone’s attention in 1930s with their shining stainless-steel looks and high speed. They have also re-invigorated the interest in the rail industry and became the poster child of the industry for decades. 

The next big transformation in the rail industry will have less to do with steel and more to do with silicon and different fuels. We will likely not see the looks of locomotives change dramatically, yet what is under the hood will make the difference. This article outlines three ways the rail industry’s near future will be different.   

No. 1: Connectivity will amplify the benefits of IoT, AI and machine learning

Connectivity is the backbone or the nervous system that brings together other technologies including IoT, AI and machine learning. IoT objects can track different parameters; AI can instill the intelligence needed to make sense out of data collected, and machine learning can lead the execution of tasks; but connectivity brings these together and amplifies each one’s contributions. 

Meanwhile, 5G expands the capacity of connectivity and enables it to be more reliable with much lower latency. For the rail industry, this means the number of IoT devices can be increased on locomotives without congesting the wavelengths. Higher reliability and lower latency mean mission-critical tasks requiring instant intervention and commonly not handled by machines, can now be handled through connected devices. 

Locomotives are getting increasingly connected, and the emergence of 5G will further fuel the use of connectivity within and beyond locomotives. Our next article on this series takes a deeper look at the three components of a connected rail eco-system. 

No 2: A set of diverse power systems will give rail operators fit-for-market solutions 

In the 1800s, steam-powered locomotives were the sole option for rail operators. In the 1930s, diesel-powered locomotives started to gain traction and became the primary option. More recently, two technologies, diesel-electric and full-electric share most of the market when it comes to powering locomotives. 

Meanwhile, there are emerging power system technologies trialed by the rail industry. These include fuel cells, both solid oxide and proton-exchange membrane, batteries and hybrid solutions.  

Going forward, it is expected there will be a more diverse set of power system technologies used in the market, instead of one or two technologies dominating others. Rail operators are expected to pick and choose the right power system technology based on infrastructure availability, local regulations, economic feasibility and customer preferences. 

This will result in currently leading technologies, diesel-electric and full-electric, to co-exist with emerging technologies, such as fuel cells and batteries, often through hybrid applications. 

No. 3: Decreasing emissions will lay the path towards the all-renewable future

For many sectors where energy is used, it is commonly agreed the final destination is an all-renewable future. Meanwhile, the pace towards the destination varies significantly. For example, about 30% of the electricity we use today is from renewables, and it is forecasted after 2040, we will be getting more of our electricity from renewables than fossil-fuels.

Mix of technologies from electronics and controls to aftertreatment systems are used in the race towards near-zero NOx engine emissions
Mix of technologies from electronics and controls to aftertreatment systems are used in the race towards near-zero NOx engine emissions

A key focus during our journey towards an all-renewable future is lowering the emissions of leading power system technologies. For instance, emissions of nitrous oxides and particulate matter of diesel engines have decreased over 80% over the last two decades. Technologies such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) enabled this significantly reduced environmental footprint. 

Going forward, decreasing emissions will continue to be a focal point. In the near term, diesel-hybrid and fuel cell applications will take the lead on lowering emissions. For example, during the second quarter of 2020, two trains powered by Cummins Inc. fuel cells completed an 18-month trial in Europe with over 180,000 km traveled. By 2022, there will be 41 of these types of trains powered by Cummins fuel cells running in Europe, making Cummins the leading provider of fuel cells for trains globally.

The rail industry has gone through its own share of changes over the last few decades, but the current decade is likely going to be a transformative one. Rail professionals’ minds are occupied by topics ranging from technology choices to talent gaps; meanwhile the industry is embracing a diverse set of power solutions and speeding up the connectivity journey.  

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Call of the Sea: Educating marine students using a Cummins hybrid tall ship

Matthew Turner vessel

People that grew up around the water know the impact that the sea can make on someone’s lifestyle. Whether summers were spent fishing with family, wakeboarding on the lake, or cruising the ocean coast, the memories don’t fade, and those experiences can cultivate a lifelong passion. 

Call of the Sea (COTS) is an organization based just north of San Francisco in Sausalito, California (USA) that recognizes the irresistible allure that comes with a life spent by the sea. That’s why they have been committed to marine education for students of all ages since their founding in 1985.

As an educational non-profit, COTS focuses on three main pillars; marine science, nautical heritage, and sailing and seamanship. For marine science, students learn about oceanography, the water column, the San Francisco Bay, marine life and humans’ impact on the marine environment. Nautical heritage teaches about the role that the ocean has played in history, such as maritime commerce or battles at sea. 

But when it comes to the hands-on experience, the vessels owned by COTS certainly deserve the spotlight. The organization has two boats that provide an irreplaceable educational experience for their third pillar: sailing and seamanship. Their inaugural ship, the schooner Seaward, has been a teaching platform for more than 50,000 students since 2004.

The newest COTS vessel, the brigantine Matthew Turner, was recently added to meet growing demand and offer additional opportunity for experience on the water. Modeled after the tall ship Galilee and named after its shipbuilder and designer, this beautiful boat took about seven years to build with generous donations and countless volunteer hours committed to the project.

But this ship isn’t any ordinary model – she’s made of and powered by materials and methods that meet the highest sustainability and recycling standards on the market. Additionally, she produces her own energy for propulsion through a state-of-the-art system that uses wind power to produce electrical generation. 

The hybrid solution, a BAE HybriGen Power and Propulsion System, paired with Cummins generators capture and repurpose natural energy from sailing. This allows the vessel to operate on a carbon-neutral basis, which means the amount of carbon released by the ship’s operation is offset by savings somewhere else in the system. 

Matthew Turner portrait

The COTS website details further information about the regenerative electric propulsion concept, “Energy to run our ship will come from regenerative power under sail, which can be fueled with bio-fuel, and dockside charging from solar panels and wind generators. Day-to-day operations are designed to minimize energy and water use with a waste management system that will repurpose, recycle and reduce waste.”

Not only does COTS teach students about the marine lifestyle and environment, the organization also lives the importance of sustainable solutions through their vessels’ operation. The Matthew Turner is an engineering phenomenon for any mariner, but being built and owned by an organization that will use its technology to shape, educate and inspire the next generation of sailors means its impact will last for generations to come.  

Call of the Sea is using their platform to create experiences for students that will one day be the memory they reference as their reason why they chose a life by the water. Because the only lifestyle fit for a mariner is one at sea. 

Katie Yoder - Cummins Inc.

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a Marketing Communications Specialist. New to Cummins in 2018, Katie joined the marketing operations team where she supports trade show initiatives in North America. As a University of Wisconsin alumna, Katie enjoys watching Badger sports in her free time.

Employees team up to advance low-carbon energy in Minnesota cities

Team members gather around the new electric vehicle charging station developed in the city of Shoreview, Minnesota. Cummins employees contributed to the effort and are now working to create a charging station in the city of White Bear Lake (photo courtesy of the Great Plains Institute).
Team members gather around the new electric vehicle charging station developed in the city of Shoreview, Minnesota. Cummins employees contributed to the effort and are now working to create a charging station in the city of White Bear Lake (photo courtesy of the Great Plains Institute),

Corporate Responsibility Leader Emily Kocik thought a project to develop electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in communities near Cummins’ offices outside Minneapolis, Minnesota (U.S.), would be a good one, but she wanted to be sure.

So, she turned to Mary Bjork, who was sitting nearby (pre-pandemic), and, more importantly, drives an electric vehicle to work. Knowing a charging station can be critical, especially at the height of a cold Minnesota winter, Bjork emphatically agreed and soon Kocik was plugged into a new group of employees she hadn’t known existed.

“It turns out there’s an unofficial community of EV owners at Cummins,” said Kocik, who manages the company’s community engagement initiatives for Cummins’ offices in the greater Twin Cities area. “We just expanded out from there.”

Partnering with the cities of Shoreview and White Bear Lake, as well as the Great Plains Institute, an innovative group in Minnesota dedicated to working with communities to reduce their carbon impact, the Cummins team helped develop one new charging station earlier this year and is working on a second. 

“I really like this project because it involves a partnership between cities and a company that can provide technical and marketing expertise, and that can make such an important difference,” said Diana McKeown, the institute’s Clean Energy Resource Team Leader. “Cities are really strapped for resources these days.”


The partnership was ideal for Cummins, too, because the area is headquarters of the company’s Power Generation business, a world leader in the design and production of power generation equipment for a host of applications. Employees understand both the technical aspects of the business and customers’ growing interest in reducing their carbon impact. 

In 2019, Cummins adopted PLANET 2050, a new strategy to reduce its environmental impact, targeting 2050 for carbon neutrality at the company. Among the strategy’s goals: making community environments better “because we are there.”

“It really makes sense given the evolution of our company,” said Bjork, Global Commercial Mobile Marketing Manager at Cummins. “A lot of people still think of Cummins as a diesel engine company, but we’re really evolving into a global energy technology company.”

Working with financial support from the Cummins Foundation, the team brought both resources and a natural passion to the project. They learned how to use their job skills to partner from idea creation through government approval and ultimately to reality.

Shoreview, where the first charging station is located, and White Bear Lake are two of 141 cities and tribal nations participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities initiative, a voluntary challenge program that helps communities share insights and best practices to reach their sustainability goals. The program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. 

Projects like the charging stations can help cities meet their sustainability challenges, and also promote economic development by encouraging drivers to patronize nearby businesses while their vehicles are charging. 


Cummins’ connection with the Great Plains Institute stems from the work of Satish Jayaram, Innovation Leader for Power Systems. Previously, his job at the company included developing partnerships involved in promoting low and zero carbon forms of energy. He was so impressed with the Great Plains Institute’s ability to work across political, municipal and geographic lines, he is today a board member.

“This project enables our employees to engage with their local communities in a way that’s very tangible and related to their job skills,” said Jayaram, who first suggested Kocik consider some kind of partnership involving the institute. “Plus, it allows them to gain skills in working with government to get things done. It’s just a start. I’d like to see us do more.”

That’s the plan, according to Kocik. After all, electric vehicles won’t charge themselves. At least not yet.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]


Lessons from COVID-19 helping Cummins prepare for an uncertain future

Cummins and its employees are adjusting to the many changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cummins and its employees are adjusting to the many changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conducting business in a pandemic has been replete with lessons for Cummins, ranging from the way the company conducts training to how it organizes plants and other facilities, Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger told an Indianapolis-based civic group last week.

Linebarger, however, said the importance of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) has been perhaps the most valuable lesson, giving him optimism about the company’s ability to operate in the future while protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all its stakeholders – employees, suppliers, customers, communities and shareholders, as well

Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger
Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger says the company's decision making was driven by the health and wellbeing of all of Cummins' stakeholders.

“The first thing we know is that masks and distancing work,” Linebarger said at the Economic Club of Indiana during a virtual event last Thursday (Sept. 17). “Knowing masks and distancing work has been a huge help to figuring out how to organize our work and think differently about things.”


With a large presence in the Hubei province in China, Cummins had a front row seat at the epicenter of the pandemic. The company was well versed in the virus by the time it reached Europe and North America. While many U.S.-based businesses might have initially thought the pandemic’s impact would be limited and short-lived, Cummins leadership was deep into planning for the potential of a prolonged crisis, with the health and safety of the company’s employees, suppliers, customers and communities driving decision making.

Building on cost savings implemented in the last half of 2019  in anticipation of an economic downturn unrelated to COVID-19, Cummins leaders began looking for process improvements and efficiencies while strengthening the company’s financial position to ride out the impending crisis.

Cummins is critical to delivering a host of essential goods and services, powering the trucks that deliver food and medicine and the generators providing emergency power to hospitals, data centers and water treatment plants. In short order, the company figured out a way to supply PPE to employees while re-designing its plants to allow for social distancing. Those employees who could work from home were given access to the tools they needed to do their jobs. 


As the crisis continued, Cummins found other new ways of doing business. For instance, prior to COVID-19, service technicians were called in from various dealers and distributors all over the country to receive training on repairing Cummins engines. There is a large cost related to the travel and lodging of these technicians and the class sizes were limited. By going to virtual training, the travel and lodging costs reduced to zero and the class sizes have been increased. 

“We will never go back to the old way, where we will do service training in one headquarters,” Linebarger said. “There are dozens and dozens of opportunities like that; where we are looking at our company from the ground up to say how do we learn what we have learned during this pandemic, add it to what we know, to come up with a third way that’s better than either of those old ways.” 

When will operations return to normal? Linebarger said he expects Cummins will be dealing with the pandemic in some form or another for some time ahead.

“When you are thinking through about how to do this, it will not be short term” he said.

A special report on the company's response to COVID-19 can be found in the 2019 Sustainability Progress Report. Linebarger’s speech is available on the Economic Club of Indiana’s YouTube station. Future speakers include NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, broadcaster Mike Tirico and Eli Lilly and Company Chairman and CEO David Ricks.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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