Our environmental program was introduced in the 1970s, and since 1999, we have managed the program through an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO 14001. In addition, our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data is externally verified on the basis of ISO 14064 standards.
We constantly strive to reduce our GHG emissions, our waste production, energy and paper consumption and water usage.
GHG emissions and energy consumption
We achieve our strong performance by adopting energy efficiency measures and increasing the proportion of renewable energy. Emissions - such as from business travel by air - that cannot be reduced by other means are offset.
In 2015, we further reduced UBS’s GHG emissions by 6.7%, or 6.6% per full-time employee, year on year, which means a total reduction of 53% from baseline year 2004. We have thus surpassed our original target of a 50% reduction of GHG emissions by 2016.
In 2015, we reduced our energy consumption by more than 13% compared with 2012, thus outperforming our target of a 10% reduction by 2016. One of the key drivers for this achievement is our Group-wide real estate strategy, which includes:
- consolidating work space in larger and more energy-efficient buildings with alternative workplace concepts, resulting in a smaller, less energy-intense real estate footprint of our operations;
- investing in energy-efficient infrastructure, such as obtaining green building certifications (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or similar) for our flagship buildings and
- implementing established energy reduction measures, such as optimizing heating, air-conditioning and lighting controls in the buildings we occupy.
In 2015, we purchased 54% of UBS's worldwide electricity consumption from renewable sources. Since 2007 in Switzerland and 2012 in Germany, we have been sourcing 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources, mainly hydropower. In the UK, we purchased 91 GWh of electricity from renewable sources, which is more than 85% of our consumption. And, as a member of RE 100, we have committed to securing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020, thereby reducing our own GHG footprint by 75% compared to 2004 levels.
Offsetting CO2 emissions
In an effort to minimize our CO2 emissions in business travel, we encourage our employees to choose alternatives to air travel, such as high-speed rail, and to use video-conferencing technology instead of travelling. Since 2007, we have been offsetting all our CO2 emissions from business air travel. Projects we selected meet the requirements of the Gold Standard for voluntary emissions reductions.
Paper, water and waste
In 2015, all U.S. branch locations and major offices made the transition to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, ensuring the majority of copy paper used in the U.S. is sourced from responsibly managed forest. Globally 83.6% of all paper consumption was from recycled or FSC certified sources. The continued implementation of bin-less offices in many larger locations has helped us reduce the waste per employee by 12% since 2012, and exceed our 5% reduction target set for 2016. By the end of 2015, our waste recycling ratio decreased slightly to 53%, from 54% in 2012 - mainly due to a sharper than expected reduction of waste recycling volumes.
We reduced our water consumption by 16%, compared with 2012, reaching our 2016 target ahead of schedule.
In Basel (Switzerland), a major renovation of a building resulted in a reduction of electricity consumption by more than 40%. This was achieved by investing in a highly efficient cooling system, an efficient ventilation, LED lighting system and a change to a low temperature heating system. The overall electricity consumption was reduced from 3,000,000 kWh to 1,800,000 kWh which resulted in cost savings of CHF 180,000 CHF per annum. The building's refurbishment included the installation of a 60 kWp photovoltaic plant on the roof which allows to charge the electric cars of our clients with solar power.
In the Americas, several initiatives were undertaken to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency at key locations. These projects resulted in significant energy and cost savings throughout the region. The UBS site in Weehawken, New Jersey retrofitted multiple floors and spaces with LED lighting fixtures to reduce the site's electricity consumption. The site also upgraded existing computer room air conditioning units, switching from 7.5 ton units to 3 ton units. The new units are smaller, more energy efficient, and use eco-friendly R-407C refrigerant, a sustainable alternative to conventional, ozone-depleting substances. In total, these projects are expected to save USD 411,814 and 3,276,690 kWh annually. In addition to these projects, the site is currently pursuing LEED Existing Building certification, the preeminent standard for sustainable building operations and maintenance.
The UBS Data Center in Connecticut replaced 2,132 traditional lighting fixtures in 2015 with LED technology and improved the lighting control system's energy efficiency by installing motion sensors to reduce the amount of time lights remain unnecessarily turned on. To diminish the impact of the North and South Data Halls, which consume a majority of the facility's energy, the site installed temperature sensors within data racks to reduce static pressure and yield greater temperature control, energy efficiency, and cost savings. After officially commissioning the Data Halls in Q3 2015, the system reported a 71% energy consumption reduction from previous levels. The estimated annual savings for these projects total USD 418,533 and 1,955,648 kWh.
Projects to reduce energy consumption at the UBS Americas Headquarters in New York City are underway as well. On the 12th floor of 1285 Avenue of the Americas, newly installed LED lighting fixtures and an upgraded lighting control system are expected to save USD 11,752 and 63,039 kWh annually.