Managing our energy consumption

The energy we use in our buildings is the second largest contributor to our overall carbon footprint - 25% in 2015 - making it a priority in our environmental agenda.

We’ve set a ten-year target to halve our energy consumption by 2017. Our energy consumption has dropped another 11% year-on-year, and now stands 43% below our 2007 baseline, well on our way towards our target. We’ve achieved this by investing in new technologies and changing the way we work. Some of this reduction has been from ‘low hanging fruit’, so we expect progress to be more challenging and incremental as we continue to invest in improvements.

Our approach

Our ambitious top-down target and energy policy form the basis for our approach.  We're always looking for ways to cut our energy consumption. These include:

  • changing how we work to a ‘hoteling’ system, which reduces our space requirements
  • investing in technology to make our existing buildings more energy efficient
  • pioneering sustainability standards in our new building designs
  • encouraging our people to work sustainably
  • buying energy from renewable sources whenever practicable

Automated metering has helped us to understand where we're using the most energy in our buildings and to subsequently focus our reduction efforts where they'll have the biggest impact.

And we achieved our certification to the recent ISO 50001 standard for energy management in 2012, and renewed it last year. The standard recognises that we have a robust system to manage our energy, and guides us in continually reducing the energy we consume.

Opportunities and risk

Reducing the amount of energy we use not only  helps us to reduce our operational exposure to energy security risks, and it also helps us to reduce costs.  We’re extremely pleased with our progress so far – and estimate that our 43% reduction in consumption since 2007 has, cumulatively, saved us around £14 million. The savings have come from avoided energy costs, as well as carbon-related costs associated with both the government’s CRC scheme, and our voluntary commitment to purchase additional carbon offsets, over that time.

It also gives us an opportunity to share ideas and best practice with clients and potential clients.

Programmes

Raising the bar in green buildings

A key challenge in moving to a low carbon economy is dealing with old building stock. So, with the ongoing upgrade of our UK offices we’re challenging ourselves in the art of the possible. Nowhere is this more apparent than our London offices at More London and Embankment place, both of which have achieved the ‘Outstanding’ rating under BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental rating system for buildings. We now have more than 10,000 of our people located in some of the most environmentally innovative buildings in the UK.

Pioneering better design for new buildings – More London

In 2011 more than 5,500 of our people moved into our new state-of-the-art building at More London. The building was pioneering in its sustainability approach, and designed to have 58% lower carbon emissions than there would be in a typical building meeting prevailing construction regulations.

It was the first office building in the UK to receive the BREEAM Outstanding rating with a final score of 89.97% - the highest ever rating at the time. We achieved this through paying through close attention to the building's design and construction from the earliest possible stages.

For example, we chose a digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) system to reflect and intensify natural light so we only use lighting when we need it.

Much of the building's heat and almost 50% of its electricity comes from a tri-generator system that runs on 100% used cooking oil. The oil is sourced from restaurants within the M25, including our own staff restaurant, to keep transport emissions down, and refined locally. This allows us to cut our use of gas and petrol, to support local businesses and to broaden the range of suppliers we work with.

Other energy-saving features include regenerative braking in our lifts, solar water heating on our roofs and LED lights throughout the building.

In its third year of operation the building outperformed its energy targets and the tri-generator is exceeding its original energy production target of 25%. A display screen in our lobby lets visitors and employees know how much energy the building is using and where it’s coming from.

To find out more about our building at More London, take a look at our video case study.

Ground-breaking refurbishment of Embankment Place

Following the success of our More London office, in 2014 we finished the two-year transformation of our headquarters office at Embankment Place to bring it up to the same high standards in terms of workplace and sustainability.

We were delighted when it achieved the ‘Outstanding’ rating with the highest ever UK rating of 96.31% under BREEAM, including a 100% score for materials, transport and management. It’s also a first as a refurbishment, rather than a ‘new build’, and we believe it supports the case for retrofitting existing buildings.

We’ve applied many of the technologies and lessons learned from our More London office. Central to this is the tri-generator, which also runs on recycled cooking oil, and we collaborated with our biofuel supplier and London South Bank University to refine it to the European standard for biofuel, EN14214. The tri-generator can produce around 60% of the building’s peak electricity requirements and 20% of the heating load, and emits approximately 40% less carbon than a typical equivalent.

The building also benefits from:

  • chilled beams which can also produce heat
  • LED lighting in key areas
  • waterless urinals
  • paints, varnishes and carpets with low volatile organic compound content
  • a living wall, herb garden and insect friendly borders on the roof terraces

We expect the improvement measures to pay for themselves within four years and they’ve helped us reduce our scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 3.5% in the last year.

Improving our existing buildings

We’re also applying many of the lessons and BREEAM principles to the ongoing upgrade of our regional offices. With the leases for several of these offices expiring, we’ve taken the opportunity to consolidate our portfolio, sharing some of our buildings to reduce our space and energy consumption. We’ve also put in place new localised business management systems in these buildings to improve existing infrastructure, and are installing energy efficient technology in each of these properties.

We’ve continued our rolling programme of innovation and investment in our existing buildings, too. These include upgrading our building management systems, moving to automatic metering, installing light sensors and increasing the amount of low-energy lighting across our portfolio.

We’ve also increased the ambient temperatures in our IT equipment rooms, increasing the temperature from 160C to 220C, a move which saves energy from cooling while having no detrimental impact on performance. We’ve invested further in voltage optimisation. And we've taken practical steps like turning lights and heating off in our buildings when they're empty.

We continue to work with our suppliers on opportunities to identify further ways to improve how we use energy in our buildings.

Investing in renewable energy

We aim to purchase the grid electricity we consume from renewable sources where we can. In practice this has meant that, for several years, we’ve purchased our energy through ‘climate change levy’ exempt tariffs.

In October 2015, though, we moved to a new arrangement with Good Energy, who are the only utilities supplier in the UK with a fuel mix made up of 100% renewable electricity.  Our purchased electricity will be a mix of wind and solar energy, backed by Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates which are traceable to the source. This arrangement will apply to all mainland UK offices that we operate ourselves.