Managing our energy consumption

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

In 2017 we achieved our target of reducing energy consumption in our business operations to half the levels of 2007.

In 2022, we further reduced our consumption to -62% compared to 2007. As a result, our combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions have fallen by 98% over the same period - making a significant contribution to our total carbon emissions reduction of 83%.

In that time, we’ve invested extensively in renewing and consolidating our buildings across the country, and pioneering new technologies and ways of working.

Our approach

Our top-down target and energy policy form the basis for our approach, which includes:

  • automated metering to understand where we're using the most energy and to prioritise our reduction efforts
  • consolidating and reconfiguring our office space in a way that encourages emerging ways of working and the latest thinking on wellbeing
  • investing in new energy efficient technologies
  • pioneering sustainability standards in our new building designs
  • encouraging our people to work sustainably
  • generating our own renewable energy
  • buying energy from certified renewable sources whenever practicable

We achieved our certification to the ISO 50001 standard for energy management in 2012, and renewed it again in 2020. The standard recognises that we have a robust system to manage our energy, and guides us in continually reducing the energy we consume.

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 on the art of the possible. Our London offices at More London and Embankment place, and our Leeds office have all achieved the ‘Outstanding’ rating under BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental rating system for buildings. This means we now have more than 15,000 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 office 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 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. Other energy-saving features include regenerative braking in our lifts, solar water heating on our roofs and LED lights throughout the building. A display screen in our lobby lets visitors and employees know how much energy the building is using.

Much of the building's heat, and almost 50% of its electricity, comes from a tri-generator system. Originally they were run on recycled cooking oil, however they have since been retrofitted to run on 100% carbon neutral biogas, backed by Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGO) certificates.

The building has outperformed its energy targets and the tri-generator is exceeding its original energy production target of 25%, helping the building to achieve the BREEAM ‘in use’ certificate

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 100% carbon neutral biogas backed by Renewable Gas Guarantee of Origin (RGGO) certificates.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
Improving our existing buildings

We’re also applying many of the lessons and BREEAM principles to the ongoing investment in the upgrade of our regional offices. With the leases for several of these offices expiring, we’ve taken the opportunity to consolidate our portfolio, including some relocation, to reduce our space and energy consumption.

This includes upgrading our building management systems to improve the existing infrastructure, 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, a move which saves energy from cooling while having no detrimental impact on performance. 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 to identify further opportunities to improve how we use energy in our buildings.

Investing in renewable energy

In 2022, we achieved our target to eliminate our scope 2 carbon emissions by purchasing 100% of our electricity from verified renewable sources. In October 2015, we moved to a new arrangement with Good Energy to purchase a mix of wind and solar electricity, backed by Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates which are traceable to the source. Since November 2018, we have also been on a new renewable gas arrangement, most recently with Crown Gas, backed by Renewable Gas Guarantee of Origin (RGGO) certificates.

These arrangements apply to all mainland UK offices that we operate ourselves. In 2022 they accounted for 100% of our total electricity consumption, and 93% of our overall energy consumption.

The trigenerators in our More London and Embankment place offices use carbon neutral biogas and have a combined power output of 1.8 megawatts, providing up to 50% of the peak electricity demand and 20% of heating demand.

Contact us

Marissa Thomas

Marissa Thomas

Managing Partner & Chief Operating Officer, PwC United Kingdom

Follow us