How do you halve your carbon footprint and save $11.5 million dollars a year? We talk to Sanjeet Singh, energy and sustainability manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, to find out more.
CBA took home the major award – the National Signatory of the Year – at the annual CitySwitch awards in November.
Presenting the award, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Australian businesses now understand the business case for “clean green business”.
“In the early days it was small city firms taking out the CitySwitch awards – to see a national icon like the Commonwealth Bank win shows just how far we’ve come,” the Lord Mayor said.
The bank has been measuring, reducing and reporting on its carbon footprint since 2001. Over that time, CBA has reduced its carbon footprint by 51.5 per cent on its 2009 baseline – the equivalent of 80,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
CBA has also achieved NABERS ratings across 80 per cent of its commercial tenancies, opened 11 new retail sites with Green Star ratings of 5 stars or higher, and rolled out solar across 36 branches.
“Energy efficiency can deliver amazing results for businesses,” Sanjeet says.
“Incorporating onsite renewable energy generation with lighting and air conditioning upgrades can reduce energy usage and carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent.”
So, what are the top three initiatives that Sanjeet recommends other companies tackle first?
Portfolio benchmarking is important, Sanjeet explains, as it establishes a baseline.
“Generally, 12 months of historical utility data and a building profile report will be adequate to commence the benchmarking process.”
Sanjeet also suggests looking beyond lighting retrofits.
“While lighting upgrades are often the first ‘go to’ initiative, the best outcomes are often found in fine tuning existing lighting and air conditioning controls,” he adds.
Employee engagement is also mission critical.
“Often your staff have the best suggestions to improve energy practices. Energy awareness is essential, as any efforts to install energy efficient lighting is negated when someone forgets to turn the office lights off at the end of the day.”
Commonwealth Bank is midway through its five-year property sustainability strategy, and will continue to roll out energy efficiency initiatives and increase its onsite renewable energy generation capacity.
“We plan to procure 25 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020,” Sanjeet adds.
Ensuring security and reliability of energy supply is important, but Sanjeet is quick to point out that managing energy demand is Australia’s “cheapest form of baseload energy supply”.
“While we need to invest in new forms of energy generation and storage, we must invest in energy efficiency when it is cheaper than building new supply.”
And with CBA banking $11.5 million in annual savings each year, it’s clear that this strategy is delivering dividends.
Read more about our 2017 Award Winners in our 2017 Program Report here.