Charles River Laboratories

One Step at a Time


Joshua Patterson

Joshua Patterson


Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University


Timothy Palmer

Timothy Palmer

Global Goals

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

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Charles River's site in Mattawan, Michigan, performs general toxicology studies and specialized studies such as DART, ototoxicity, ocular toxicology, and abuse liability. This facility also supports the development of medical devices and gene and cell therapies. This site is the world's largest nonclinical facility (> 1M square feet), so it's clear why they are focused on clean, sustainable energy practices. Charles River commits to improving lives by operating its business responsibly and extends beyond the discovery and development of therapeutic cures to the communities where we live and work.


Through a contract with Constellation New Energy, the Mattawan campus has converted its entire electric load to 100% wind power and thus zero GHG emissions. While the local Mattawan's site's efforts are impressive, Charles River has committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity globally by 2030 as part of their greenhouse gas reduction strategy and, as of 2020, has already reached 37% renewable electricity, which has helped drive a 26% reduction in scope 1 and 2 GHGs from 2018 to 2020.

The Mattawan site has taken steps to become more energy-efficient and reduce the use of materials that are harmful to the environment. For instance, they have converted all exterior lighting from HPS to LED and started upgrading interior lighting from T8 fixtures to LED, reducing energy consumption in half from 32 watts to approximately 14 watts per tube. Along with reducing energy consumption, the new LED lighting also eliminated the need to dispose of used fluorescent tubes as hazardous waste due to their mercury content. Removing all single-use plastic water bottles from the Mattawan site and removing non-compostable material from the cafeteria are additional steps the facility has taken to reduce waste production.

One Step at a Time


Charles River has made a concerted effort to procure clean, renewable energy for its facilities. Acquiring wind-generated electricity for the Matawan site as a renewable energy source has helped reduce the site's dependence on fossil fuels. This step towards reducing the site's carbon footprint has also reduced electricity costs significantly for the Mattawan site. "In 2019, when the Electric Choice procurement agreement was implemented, the cost of this energy was $28,000 as opposed to the utilities cost of $750,000," Duane Hagen – Energy, Sustainability and System Optimization Analyst explained. This energy agreement was beneficial to both the financial bottom line and the environment – a true win-win.

Overall impact

These small steps all add up to a lessened environmental footprint. Reducing energy usage and using renewable electricity will help to reduce Mattawan's carbon footprint. As sites around the world undertake similar energy conservation measures and as Charles River is increasing the amount of renewable electricity in its portfolio through the use of Virtual Power Purchase Agreements or VPPAs - Charles River's carbon footprint is getting smaller every day. The success of Charles River, as well as many other leading companies, in reducing their carbon footprint will encourage other businesses to follow in their footsteps. As one of the largest employers in the Mattawan area, it is imperative that this company lead by example.

Business benefit

The cost of energy efficiency infrastructure upgrades may lead to additional expenses initially, but they end up paying for themselves in the long run and are often partly compensated for by rebates from local utilities. Effective January 1, 2020, Charles River established a $5 million Annual Sustainability Capital Fund to fund projects like new construction, facility retrofits, and the procurement of more sustainable equipment. This fund supports sustainability capital projects annually from now through year-end 2030. In 2020, sustainability projects were approved and funded to reduce their annual Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by ~1.6%.

Sustainability efforts at the Mattawan site have proven beneficial for the business and have resulted in both financial savings due to lessened energy consumption and a reduced environmental footprint which has been good for the planet. Charles River is committed to creating value for their clients, employees, communities, and the earth, executed through their Corporate Citizenship efforts and programs. The company makes every effort to ensure a sustainable future.

Social and environmental benefit

The conversion to renewable wind energy at the Mattawan site has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, on average, 22,000 metric tons of CO2e annually. Charles River can make a difference, and as their Corporate Citizenship program states, "we can be the difference – to the animals under their care, the patients who rely on the treatments they are helping to develop, and our planet."

When the Mattawan site was built, much of the technology available at the time was not as environmentally friendly as the technology that exists today. That's why it is imperative to align with SDG 9 to upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes. These upgrades can at times be more costly initially as opposed to more traditional technologies, and with new technology being developed rapidly, it can be challenging to decide which upgrades will be the most beneficial; however, Charles River is dedicated to investing in these new technologies and reducing their environmental footprint in order to do their part to be a good corporate citizen.


Duane Hagen, Energy, Sustainability, and System Optimization Analyst

Rachel Tapp, Senior Study Director

Business information

Charles River Laboratories

Charles River Laboratories

Mattawan, MI, Worldwide
Business Website:
Year Founded: 1947
Number of Employees: 10000+

Charles River provides essential products and services to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government agencies and leading academic institutions around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Our dedicated employees are focused on providing clients with exactly what they need to improve and expedite the discovery, early-stage development and safe manufacture of new therapies for the patients who need them. Charles River's site in Mattawan, Michigan, performs general toxicology studies and specialized studies such as DART, ototoxicity, ocular toxicology, and abuse liability. This facility also supports the development of medical devices and gene and cell therapies.