Unum, Mohawk listed among America's Climate Leaders and other business news

Unum, Mohawk listed among America's Climate Leaders

Unum Group and Mohawk Industries are among the top U.S. companies that earned a place among America's Climate Leaders presented by USA Today.

Chattanooga-based Unum, the world's biggest disability insurer, and Calhoun, Georgia-based Mohawk, the world's largest flooring manufacturer, were among 400 companies selected from among more than 2,000 of the largest companies in the country for the amount of carbon and other pollution reduction made by the companies.

Industry produces 23% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to USA Today.

"The business sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. That makes them a main point of potential improvement," said Magali Delmas, a professor of management and faculty director of the Center for Impact at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In the inaugural list of America's Climate Leaders developed for USA Today by market research firm Statista, Unum was credited with an 11.1% yearly reduction in its core emissions of global greenhouse gases, while Mohawk reduced its carbon output by 5.8%.

In its 2022 Environmental, Social and Government report released in April, Unum CEO Rick McKenney praised the company's approach, which he said is designed to "positively impact the world around us. Through community outreach, we address well-being, education and environmental sustainability to advocate for positive change in the places our employees call home."

Malisa Maynard, Mohawk's vice president of sustainability, said in a statement Monday that the ranking "is a great honor and reflects the great work being accomplished by thousands of our associates" around the globe.

"We are continuing to identify new and innovative ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions while creating sustainable products that improve homes and public spaces," she said.

Chattanooga rental rates jump 12.3% in past year

Chattanooga apartment rental rates remain below the average for major U.S. cities, but the average rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Chattanooga has jumped by 12.3% in the past year to a record high of $1,280, according to Zumper's National Index released Wednesday.

Among the 100 largest U.S. metro markets included in the Zumper study, Chattanooga ranked as the 58th most expensive rental market in the nation in April. The average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Chattanooga rose to $1,500 a month.

Such rents were still below the U.S. average of $1,504 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,856 for a two-bedroom apartment, Zumper said.

Shell pays $10 million to settle pollution case

Shell has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that it polluted the air around its massive new petrochemical refinery in Western Pennsylvania, the administration of Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday.

Shell acknowledged the plant, along the Ohio River about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh, violated air emissions limits, officials said. The multibillion-dollar facility opened in November, only to be shut down months later after the company said it identified a problem with a system that's designed to burn off unwanted gases.

Shell said it has made repairs and planned to restart the plant Wednesday.

Under an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Shell Chemicals Appalachia LLC — a subsidiary of British oil and gas giant Shell plc — will pay a civil penalty of about $5 million, a portion of which will go toward environmental projects in Beaver County. The company will funnel a total of $6.2 million to the community, according to state officials.

Pennsylvania is "taking steps to hold Shell accountable and protect Pennsylvanians' constitutional right to clean air and water while encouraging innovation and economic development in the commonwealth," Rich Negrín, the state's acting environmental secretary, said in a written statement.

Union Pacific offers better work schedules

Engineers who operate trains for Union Pacific will soon have much more predictable schedules that will allow them to plan when they are going to be off.

The change the railroad announced Wednesday with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union will address one of the key quality-of-life concerns that pushed the rail industry to the brink of a strike last fall. The deal will let Union Pacific's roughly 5,600 engineers plan on having four days off in a row after spending 11 days straight on call.

Union President Eddie Hall said this will be a life-altering change for engineers, who had to become used to being on call 24/7 in recent years.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner