Protecting the environment

Operational impacts

We are rapidly improving the environmental performance of our operations, especially in three main areas: energy consumption in our buildings, air travel and use of paper.

Achieving our ambitious targets requires rigorous systems and new ideas, and in 2008, we introduced programmes ranging from energy management to electronic information flows.

Energy use in buildings

Management and information systems

We monitor energy consumption in our buildings using our Global Environmental Management System (GEMS), which is modelled on ISO 14001, the international environment management standard. In 2008, we increased the number of buildings covered by GEMS from 52 to 81, or 47,000 employees.

In 2008, we introduced the Environmental Information Management System, an online tool to improve measurement and data collection. We have also started quarterly reporting of energy consumption data, which will focus attention on energy by highlighting any excess usage early. We use a footprint estimation tool to cover the rest of our portfolio.

Certification and verification

We now use environmental certification for all new buildings by recognised third parties, such as Greenmark in Singapore and Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) in the US. We look for high performance and will not accept less than the equivalent of the US LEED ‘Gold’ rating (see Changi Business Park case study).

From 2009, existing buildings, which have not already been externally certified, will be rated for energy efficiency against our newly developed Building Environment Assessment Standard. This standard allows us to classify the buildings in our portfolio, set targets, continuously improve our environmental performance and allocate future environment-focused investment appropriately.

We internally verified GEMS data in seven of our biggest markets, including South Korea and India.


We implemented country action plans to identify clear guidance and recommendations for reducing our energy use.

In addition, GEMS requires specific plans for the buildings it covers, detailing how the use of resources will be reduced. The data verification process also highlighted some improvements that have been shared across the Bank.

Finally, a range of communications, initiatives and activities (many focused around World Environment Day) encouraged staff to ensure energy use is kept low (see employee engagement section).


In 2008, an extra 29 buildings were included under GEMS measurement. Many of these are less energy efficient than those previously included; many too are in countries with high emissions per unit of energy. This has increased our average energy use between 2007 and 2008, particularly our average emissions. These buildings are now covered by action plans and we expect to see substantial progress going forward.

Despite this added challenge, between 2006 and 2008 we reduced CO2 emissions per full-time employee (FTE) by 14 per cent, eclipsing our target of 10  per cent1. This resulted from a fall in energy consumption of 10 per cent per square metre and 14 per cent per FTE. See Data and trends for more details.



There is huge potential to reduce paper use, especially in our operational hubs such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Chennai, India.

Between 2006 and 2008 we reduced consumption by 20 per cent per FTE through measures such as rationalising printers, promoting double-sided printing and launching guidelines for paperless meetings.

In 2008, we introduced an Information Retention Management (IRM) programme with a standard archiving policy globally. This includes a global electronic workflow approach for all personnel file information. The system operates in 13 countries, with others due to adopt it in 2009.

We have now invested in technology that will eliminate paper from some of our processes over the next three years, when we aim to halve the amount of paper use per employee.

Air Travel

Meeting clients face-to-face is important, but our analysis in 2008 found that 80 per cent of all air travel between our five major locations is for internal meetings.

In 2008, we upgraded our video systems to make remote conferencing more effective and widely used. We also introduced a new online web and audio conferencing facility to provide flexible options for remote meetings, as well as a stricter travel policy.

As a result, air travel emissions decreased by 22 per cent per FTE between 2006 and 2008, beating our reduction target of 10 per cent.

We will continue to invest in video technology as it becomes more cost-efficient and sophisticated, pursuing our target to reduce emissions from air travel by 35 per cent per FTE by 2011.

For ease of comparison, we have used the latest available conversion factors across the reporting period. In this case the International Energy Agency’s 2008 edition conversion factors. To maintain consistency, all figures from 2006 to 2008 have been recalculated.

Singapore Changi Business Park

Built to high environmental standards

Our new flagship offices under construction at Changi Business Park, Singapore, have been recommended for the ‘Greenmark Platinum’ award by the Building Construction Authority of Singapore – the highest environmental award available in the country.

We have specified that this building must focus on energy conservation, and anticipate energy use will be 35 per cent less than standard Singapore offices. Solar panels will provide enough electricity for when the building is ‘dormant’.

They will also power an ultra-efficient, automatic drip-feed irrigation system. A host of water-saving initiatives, including recycling waste water and collecting rainwater, will result in considerable water savings. A dedicated waste chute will promote recycling of various types of waste, while extensive green areas and gardens will feature a host of native endangered species thanks to a partnership with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).



  • 47,000employees covered under our environmental management system
  • 14 per centreduction in CO2 emissions per employee 2006–2008
  • $1mdonated through the Race for a Living Planet

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