We recognize the emerging risk of global climate change, and the impact it could have on our industry and our customers around the world. We have a strong corporate commitment to clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency, both in our operations and in our investments. We will continue to develop our understanding of climate and energy, and take actions that protect the environment and strengthen our businesses.
Prudential is focused on instilling the principle of environmental stewardship throughout our global businesses. We believe that doing so benefits our clients, employees, and shareholders-and future generations.
We have made the following commitments to protecting our environment and have taken the following steps to implement those commitments throughout our businesses:
We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our business operations. This includes reducing our energy consumption, maintaining a comprehensive recycling program, ensuring sustainable paper procurement and use, and offering employees options to reduce emissions from commuting. We believe that by focusing on the sustainability of our daily operations, we build a strong foundation for incorporating environmental principles in our investments and insurance products.
Reducing our energy consumption serves the dual purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing expenses. Since 1998, energy consumption at our major U.S. facilities has declined by 32 percent, with further reductions planned through the ongoing installation of energy-saving light bulbs and energy management systems.
We are also increasing the efficiency of our data centers and have standardized procurement of EnergyStar computer equipment for employees. We estimate that we save approximately $7.5 million in energy costs annually as a result of initiatives already undertaken, thereby reducing our annual carbon dioxide emissions by 29,000 tons. We will continue building on these successes and are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from 2007 levels by 2013 at our U.S. home office properties.
In addition, we have active recycling programs in our major facilities, where we recycle on average 1,500 tons of office waste per year. While technology has revolutionized the way we conduct business, it has also raised new environmental challenges, with "e-waste" accumulating in landfills. We have implemented a program to recycle and reuse technology, including a target of 100 percent of Prudential's personal computers.
We continue to build a sustainable "green print" program. Our initial focus is on reducing the amount of paper that we use for printing and copying through innovative solutions. We seek opportunities to use paper that has recycled content, paper that is produced under sustainable forest management programs, and eco-friendly print processes such as using vegetable-based inks. The green print program will also incorporate holistic, cradle-to-cradle strategies and alternatives to traditional print such as e-delivery and print on demand, and will include reviews of the entire print supply chain, from raw material to disposal.
In addition, Prudential has been a leader in advocating for "notice and access," the Securities and Exchange Commission-approved model of delivering proxy materials online. Through this model, companies post documents online and notify shareholders of online availability of those documents. By using the notice and access model for delivery of its annual report, Prudential has substantially reduced its paper use. For example, we mailed 2 million fewer proxy packages in 2008 than in 2007.
We believe our commitment to the environment enhances our commitment to our employees. We offer flexible work schedules and telecommuting programs to support employee work-life balance and reduce the emissions and costs of employees driving to work. Prudential also has a transit check program that encourages employees to use public transportation.
Information technology plays an integral role in supporting our footprint reduction initiatives, including video conferencing, telecommuting, and virtual faxing. We will continue exploring opportunities to increase the contribution of technology operations to Prudential's environmental commitments.
Sustainability is core to our provision of long-term financial security to our customers. We seek to leave a positive legacy through our products and services, including a positive legacy for the environment. We will continue to offer our customers socially responsible and sustainable investing options.
Prudential asset management businesses manage portfolios for retail and institutional clients. They also manage Prudential's general account that finances the obligations of the company. Investment analysts who help make decisions for client and Prudential portfolios are encouraged to consider all relevant factors in their analysis. As appropriate, those factors can include measuring environmental risks and opportunities, particularly in how they affect the sustainability or financial merits of an investment.
As a major real estate investment manager, we have an opportunity to apply sustainable principles to investing in and managing real estate assets. The building sector represents nearly half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. Energy Information Administration Prudential-managed funds currently own or invest in more than two dozen LEED-certified buildings or properties under development.
We have joined the Green Building Council and have created "green teams" within some of our portfolio management teams. In 2008, we commenced a pilot benchmarking program, pursuant to which we have identified 45 properties in our funds that will be benchmarked and analyzed with a view toward making changes that will reduce the energy consumption of each property. Once we have implemented this pilot program, we will apply best practices and lessons learned to our broader portfolio of properties.
Within our general account, we have used our ability to analyze complicated transactions and evaluate risks that other investors find unfamiliar in order to earn attractive risk adjusted returns while meeting important societal needs. We have already invested over $500 million in U.S. wind power projects in California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Washington. These projects have a capacity of over 1,600 megawatts, powering the equivalent of nearly 500,000 households.
Climate change affects all sectors of the global economy and as such is at the center of the public agenda. While Prudential, as a leading insurer, can make a difference in its own operations, we cannot hope to solve this daunting challenge without engaging policymakers, other private sector leaders, and the public.
In addition to ensuring the sustainability of our own operations, investments, and insurance products, Prudential supports initiatives that contribute to market-driven solutions to climate change. Underscoring this commitment, Prudential is a signatory to the Business Roundtable's Climate RESOLVE initiative. Prudential will also continue to advocate for extending the SEC's notice and access guidelines to allow the financial community to reduce paper consumption.
Supporting our employees' commitment to preserving the environment is a critical element of our stakeholder engagement policy. Prudential employees share their passion for the environment and practical tips on how to save energy and reduce waste through our employee magazine and online video programming-materials that reach more than 40,000 employees worldwide.
As active members of the communities we serve, we support employee initiatives to preserve the environment. Our employees initiate and participate in a range of local environmental projects, and The Prudential Foundation supports such initiatives in communities across the United States. Prudential employees will continue to play a critical role in the ongoing implementation and development of our environmental commitments.
As part of our initiative to engage our employees and external stakeholders, we have developed a symbol that represents the company's overall commitment, especially our efforts in environmentally sound printing and e-delivery. We expect that this symbol will generate awareness of, enthusiasm for, and alignment around our stewardship efforts.
To channel Prudential's commitment to the environment, understand and mitigate environmental risks to the business, and identify opportunities driven by environmental issues, Prudential formed an Environmental Task Force that reports to the Vice Chairman. The Task Force is responsible for developing environmental stewardship and risk management programs for the company. In addition, the group monitors developments in environmental law and regulation, and consolidates information about environmental initiatives undertaken by Prudential.
Each individual business unit will be responsible for implementing Prudential's environmental commitment.
The Community Resources Oversight Committee of our Board of Directors will review this environmental commitment and its progress against goals annually.
As part of our commitment to stakeholders, we will report progress against our commitments, both in the United States and in our global businesses, in our annual Community Resources report and on our web site. We will also continue to report our greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on our operations through the Carbon Disclosure Project.
We are committed to building upon these activities through a continued focus on programs that reduce our environmental impact, improve the lives of people in the communities where we live and work, and encourage our employees' environmental initiatives at work and in their communities.