Our operations

Our operations

In 2013, we continued our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint. We achieved a 15% year-on-year reduction meaning we have reduced emissions by 49% compared with 2004 levels, and are closing fast on our target of a 50% reduction by 2016. The greenhouse gas footprint per full-time employee was down by 12% year-on-year.

Our strong performance reflects our success in using energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption in our buildings. At the same time we increased the proportion of renewable energy we use. We continue to offset emissions that cannot be reduced by other means, including business air travel.

In the 1970s, we introduced our Environmental Program. Since 1999, we have managed the program through an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO 14001. We were the first bank to obtain ISO 14001 certification for our firm-wide environmental management system. In addition, our greenhouse gas emissions data is externally verified according to ISO 14064 standards.

Our responsible supply chain management (RSCM) principles govern our relationship with our suppliers, contractors and service partners. The RSCM framework allows us to identify, assess and monitor supplier practices in the areas of human and labor rights, the environment, health and safety and anti-corruption. In 2013, we strengthened this framework by focusing on suppliers that have a potentially high environmental or social impact, or suppliers that are active in high-risk countries. Our screening process identified around 40 suppliers with whom we need to work to bring them in line with our RSCM standards.

Health and safety are integral parts of being a responsible corporate citizen. We aim to create an environment that safeguards employees, business partners and clients. Our long-standing commitment to ensuring the well-being of our employees is included in our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. We review our health and safety activities regularly to ensure issues are effectively managed and improvements are made where necessary. The reviews include involve our employees through employee representation groups such as the Employee Representation Council in Switzerland. Operational responsibility for the governance and review of health and safety sits with the Group Chief Operating Officer. In addition, our activities are monitored by the Corporate Responsibility Committee, a committee of the Board of Directors.

Case study: Enhanced biodiversity around a major UBS building in Zurich

The grounds around a major UBS building in Zurich were recertified in 2013 as a "nature park" by the Swiss foundation "Natur & Wirtschaft". The goal of the foundation is to encourage firms to contribute to conservation and biodiversity on land surrounding their buildings, in particular in urban and industrialized areas. Criteria include the planting of indigenous species, no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, and that the grassland may not be cut more than twice a year. 

One of UBS's large buildings in Connecticut collaborated with a conservation biologist from the state's Audubon Society in order to conduct a wildlife habitat evaluation of the property, which ultimately led to recommendations that would further enhance the building's land stewardship and sustainability program. As a result, specialized bird houses, specifically designed for local birds, were installed on the property. The building also introduced fifteen botanical plants, all of which are on the state's endangered plant list, to the property's grounds. One of the newly planted species, Pink Mushily grass, attracts beneficial insects, is a natural means of biological control and serves as a protective wildlife cover. Additionally, the building implemented an ‘Integrated Pest Management’ process, reducing the use of toxic pesticides.

Through these conservation and stewardship efforts, the UBS building was awarded the prestigious "Green Shield Certification" in 2013 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-endorsed Green Shield Certified™, a national environmental non-profit organization that promotes practitioners of effective, prevention-based pest control while minimizing the need to use harmful pesticides. The certification is based on a rigorous building environmental audit and review of environmentally-aware management practices related to landscaping and biological sustainability.