The transition to a low carbon economy can be complex. For companies that have well-established processes and operations, this often means reviewing how business is done from the ground up. Electricity and heating are the biggest contributors for service companies like UBS. This said, we're working to reduce and find alternatives where possible.
800 opportunities to do better
UBS operates in over 800 buildings throughout the world. And back in 2004, we were emitting the equivalent of 130,000 cars, each driving 20,000 kilometers in a year. By 2020, we aim to reduce that number by 75% and to use electricity only from renewable sources.
Our flagship office in the heart of the City of London was opened in September 2016. The 12-storey building houses over 5,000 UBS employees across all business divisions. From solar thermal water heating to rainwater harvesting, the building is a model of what's possible with modern sustainability features.
The office contributes zero waste to landfill as we've implemented central recycling and bin-less floor policies. We've seen a 53% reduction in average energy use on site and in 2018, the location was named the UK's most sustainable building at the EDIE Sustainability Leaders Awards.
The restoration of our historic headquarters on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich was completed in 2018. Eco-friendly and low-emission building materials, as well as energy and water saving measures have helped us with our sustainability goals, and to achieve a LEED platinum certification (the highest level under the international standard for sustainable, eco-friendly and resource-conserving construction). The forecasted energy savings after the refurbishment of Bahnhofstrasse 45 are 30%.
Turning off the lights
In 2018 our energy consumption reached an all-time low. Achieving this has involved consolidating work spaces in larger and more energy-efficient buildings, optimizing heating by switching from fossil fuels to district heating and geothermal heat pumps, improving insulation on façades and roofs. We've also increased the efficiency of our cooling units, using natural refrigerants with no global warming potential.
In an effort to minimize our CO2 emissions in business travel, we have halved the number of kilometers flown worldwide from one billion (2007) to 515 million (2018). And since 2007, we’ve been offsetting all of our emissions from business air travel.
Finally, we worked to change the way we source energy. Today, 59% of our electricity is renewable. And we source electricity from 100% renewable sources in Switzerland, Germany, the UK and Luxembourg (mainly hydropower and wind power).
We also produce our own electricity with solar panels, for example in South Africa, Milan, Zurich, Basel and London.
By 2020, we aim for 100% of our electricity consumption to be from renewable energy.
Reducing our footprint also meant looking at the other side of the equation – consumption. We have collaborated with external organizations to find more responsible solutions for everything from procuring paper from recycled or certified sources to implementing the first zero plastic staff restaurant in Luxembourg.