The Nedbank Group, Africa’s only carbon neutral financial institution, has once again proved why it is one of South Africa’s greenest companies, with new milestones achieved over the past year.
A key environmental milestone Nedbank has achieved is its reduction in the use of natural resources such as energy, water and paper, which is not only good for the environment, it has also saved the bank R37-million over the past three years.
A notable reduction is Nedbank’s 13% year-on-year decrease in electricity usage per fulltime employee from its 2009 levels for its approximately 27 000 employees.
“Energy or electricity accounts for 77% of Nedbank’s total carbon footprint, and 2010 saw intense efforts to reduce electricity consumption throughout the Group,” explains Brigitte Burnett, Nedbank’s Head of Sustainability.
Initiatives to cut back on electricity included consolidating staff members from several buildings into environmentally friendly facilities (Nedbank Phase II at 135 Rivonia Road and Ridgeside Umhlanga are two examples), installing energy-efficient air-conditioning, lighting and motion sensors and working towards optimal server consolidation and virtualization.
Energy is one of several ‘tracked and measured’ sustainability objectives reported in Nedbank’s comprehensive Integrated Report, published in March 2011.
The report includes an overview of the bank’s sustainability journey to date and its 2010 carbon footprint.
STRIVING TO REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
“We are proud of our 2010 achievements. We are continuously striving to reduce our carbon footprint through several reduction targets, including electricity, paper, water, waste management and business travel,” continues Burnett, adding that Nedbank has also significantly increased its recycling.
“A 5% increase in recycling (or 2.5% year-on-year) was targeted for the end of 2011, based on 2009 figures. This target was achieved at the end of 2010 and the new target for 2011 is a 3% increase from 2010 levels.”
The success of its reduction initiatives is significantly reflected in Nedbank’s total carbon footprint for 2010 which came in at approximately 213 000 tons of CO2 .
Considering the expanded the scope of Nedbank’s 2010 footprint, which included the carbon emissions associated with the buildings and staff of the now wholly owned and integrated Imperial Bank, as well as the carbon emissions associated with the electricity consumption of its offshore entities, this was a pleasing achievement.
Nedbank’s carbon footprint for 2009, excluding the above-mentioned expanded scope, was 214 000 tons of CO2 .
AN INTEGRATED, HOLISTIC LENS
“We look at our sustainability journey through an integrated, holistic lens, always balancing social, cultural and environmental considerations against economic drivers,” Burnett explains.
Nedbank’s approach to environmental sustainability includes:
• Managing its own impact
Nedbank is making sure it ‘gets its own house in order’ and that it effectively manages the direct impact it has on the environment, particularly through its efforts in the areas of energy efficiency, carbon reduction, carbon neutrality, water efficiency and responsible lending.
• Leading through collaboration
Nedbank works closely with all stakeholders – from staff members and clients to business partners and suppliers – to help them understand their impact on the environment and strive to reduce this impact.
• Facilitating sustainability through products and services
Nedbank strives to support the ‘green’ efforts of its clients by offering them a range of environmentally friendly banking and financial products and services at every level.
GREENING YOUR MONEY
“Our goal is to encourage the majority of Nedbank’s clients, large and small, to green their money,” says Maseda Ratshikuni, head of Cause Marketing & Affinities at Nedbank.
As part of its ‘Greening Your Money’ drive, Nedbank offers several products and offerings within its ever-evolving green programme.
“Within our Green Affinity programme we have current accounts, savings accounts, paperless accounts, investment products and eco-insurance options that offer our clients the opportunity to contribute to environmental sustainability without it costing them a cent. Nedbank pays a percentage of transactions and premiums on all these products to The Green Trust.
In 2009 Nedbank started donating 25c to its climate change initiatives and The Green Trust for every e-statement issued.
“We encourage all our clients to embrace our green culture, and help them to achieve this wherever we can,” adds Ratshikuni.
REDUCE BEFORE OFFSETTING
Nedbank’s ability to assume a sustainability leadership role in South Africa is highlighted in the way in which its carbon neutrality vision was achieved in 2010, following a ‘reduce before offsetting’ approach.
Only when the numerous reduction initiatives for the year had been achieved did Nedbank use carbon credits to offset the remaining, unavoidable carbon emissions.
RECOGNISED CARBON OFFSETTING PROJECTS
The carbon credits needed to attain carbon neutrality were obtained from various projects, including the Rukinga Project in Kenya and the Umdoni Gel Fuel Low-income Housing Project in KwaZulu Natal.
The Rukinga Project is the world’s first ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’ (REDD) project to issue carbon credits. The project is successfully preventing the deforestation of Kenya’s Kasigau Wildlife Corridor while delivering significant economic, social and cultural benefits to local communities.
The Umdoni Gel Fuel Low-income Housing Project reduces carbon emissions by promoting the switch from fossilised and unsustainably harvested fuel to the use of bioethanol gel (a byproduct of the local sugarcane industry). The Umdoni Municipality provides 4 000 households that are offgrid with an energy-efficient cooking stove that burns bioethanol gel.
Given the increasing impact of climate change, Nedbank will continue to explore a range of sustainable offset projects in South Africa and Africa, particularly those that include renewable energy, avoid deforestation and promote reforestation and biodiversity conservation.
A GREEN AND CARING BANK
Towards achieving its green goals in 2008 Nedbank created the Group Environmental Forum (GEF) to drive environmental sustainability across the Group.
The end of 2010 saw this forum reconstituted as the Group Sustainability Committee (GSC) with increased executive management representation across the organisation in order to ensure greater focus on realising the group vision to lead as a green and caring bank.
This committee is supported by a number of environmentally focused task teams, including the Nedbank/WWF-SA Carbon Neutral Task Team, as well as task teams that focus on electricity, paper, water, travel and waste.
INTEGRATION IS AN ONGOING JOURNEY
“Nedbank is increasingly integrating all areas of its operations. This way we ensure that we conduct business with a balanced, integrated approach and that we facilitate positive change that will serve people and our planet,” says Burnett.
“It’s exciting to see the ripple effect of all of our efforts and the growth in our staff members’, clients’ and suppliers’ sustainability journey,” she adds.
“We are constantly looking at how we can improve our collective sustainability journey. Towards achieving this we are partnering with global leaders in sustainability and we look forward to reporting the new milestones achieved in our Integrated Report each year.” ends
Nedbank’s Integrated Report is available on www.nedbankgroup.co.za
Note: Nedbank’s carbon footprint is calculated on an annual basis according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – the international standard set by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Carbon footprint reporting is still voluntary in South Africa but Nedbank regards it as a key progress measure of its sustainability and climate change journey, which culminated in the bank’s achievement of carbon neutrality last year.