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Operational impacts

The way we run our buildings and business air travel has a direct impact on the environment. We have established long-term targets to manage carbon emissions stemming from air travel and energy, as well as targets to reduce our water use and paper consumption.

2010 savings included:

  • 6 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent arising from energy use per full time employee (FTE)
  • 21 per cent reduction in water use per FTE
  • 11 per cent reduction in paper use per FTE

The impact of our buildings

Since 2009, we have used an internally developed rating system, Building Environmental Assessment Standard (BEAS), to measure the operational impacts of our buildings. BEAS measures a number of factors, including energy and water use, environmental conservation features and indoor environmental quality. A significant weighting is given to energy efficiency in the rating system.

The size and type of our property portfolio changes every year according to our business needs, which creates a challenge in measuring the environmental impacts of our buildings. In 2010, all our GEMS buildings (buildings of 20,000 sq ft or more) reported their environmental performance data. This year, there were 112 GEMS buildings in more than 30 countries, representing more than half of our total property portfolio globally.

To ensure that we have representative reporting of the environmental impacts from our total property portfolio, in addition to the GEMS buildings, we also collect environmental performance data from 124 smaller branches in 23 countries across our footprint. We extrapolate the data from this sample across the remainder of the portfolio, which enables us to achieve 100 per cent reporting coverage on property from medium-sized offices to small branches.

As we progressively increase the scope of energy performance reporting by including smaller buildings, we are likely to encounter more challenges to drive up energy efficiency. All things being equal, smaller buildings are generally less energy-efficient compared with larger buildings because the latter have greater economy of scale in operating building facilities such as space heating and air-conditioning equipment.

Our ongoing space efficiency programme to improve workspace utilisation incorporates flexible working strategies and the reshaping of our property portfolio in order to enable headcount growth with a reduction in portfolio size. This also contributes to achieving energy and water efficiencies in our buildings.

Annual Report and Accounts 2010