Bank of America Sustainability Report: GHGs Down 9%
Bank of America cut its gross scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 9 percent last year, from 1,692,415 metric tons CO2e in 2011 to 1,538,495 in 2012, according to its latest corporate social responsibility report.
Taking renewable energy credits into account, scope 1 and 2 emissions fell 8.6 percent, from 1,682,105 to 1,536,365 mt CO2e – a 14 percent drop from 2010 levels.
The reduction builds on Bank of America’s previous GHG reduction of 18 percent from 2004 to 2009, and put it on track for its targeted 15 percent drop in net scope 1 and 2 emissions from 2010 to 2015.
BoA says the reduction was driven primarily through real estate consolidation and energy efficiency projects, and also through electric grids becoming less carbon intensive.
It is difficult to determine, however, how much of an actual drop in emissions the numbers reflect. The report says that in 2012, Bank of America shifted some real estate from bank to landlord control, reducing its total occupied space by 4.75 million square feet. It raised its utilization metric to 75 percent – from what, the bank doesn’t say – and cut its square footage per employee to 272, excluding retail banking centers.
The bank notes that the shift in operational control decreases transparency in utility use. This suggests to the reader that the shift has pushed some of the bank’s scope 2 energy use and emissions into the scope 3 category. But with the company only reporting its reduction in occupied space – not a percentage change in managed space – it’s difficult to see how much of its CO2 savings are from efficiency improvements, and how much from a change in accounting. The report also does not offer any of its environmental metrics relative to square footage, revenue or staff levels – only as absolute measures.
BoA did say that it has adjusted 2010 and 2011 GHG emissions, water, waste and LEED inventories to reflect changes in its portfolio and the best available data at the time of reporting. These changes have been made in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and standard reporting methods, the company says. To a casual reader, it’s not clear if these adjustments take into account the changes in Bank of America’s real estate ownership.
A further difficulty of the real estate shift, the bank notes, is that it reduces opportunities to generate measurable returns on efficiency investments. “To achieve our operational goals, we will need to be more creative in our corporate workplace initiatives, working closely with our landlords to be more efficient in the space we occupy,” the report says.
The report uses a 2010 baseline year.
This year it also included three new Scope 3 categories: Purchased Goods and Services (Category 1), Capital Goods (Category 2) and Fuel- and Energy-Related Activities (Category 3). BoA says it is identifying and calculating three additional categories of Scope 3 emissions — Downstream Transportation & Distribution (Category 9), Use of Sold Products (Category 11) and End of Life Treatment of Sold Products (Category 12) — and will report that data in its Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) submission for release in September.
The GRI has verified the report at Application Level B+.
Energy efficiency and green building
Bank of America says the energy-efficiency projects it completed in 2012 are projected to save 59,941 MWh of electricity annually. It says that by installing exterior LED systems at 76 retail locations, it improved aesthetics, cut annual energy and maintenance costs by $138,000, and nearly eliminated exterior lighting maintenance.
Since 2004, the bank has saved more than $227 million in energy costs through efficiency projects, the report says.
The company’s electricity use, purchased steam and cooling and natural gas consumption all fell from 2011 to 2012. But again, it’s impossible to phrase these in terms of overall efficiency, when BoA does not supply consumption relative to floor space.
The company is aiming for 20 percent LEED-certified square-footage workspace by 2015. But in 2012, BoA also sold or exited a number of LEED-certified spaces, raising the number of new certifications it needs to pursue. Its percentage of LEED-certified workspace remained constant from 2011 to 2012, at 15 percent.
Bank of America completed more than 600,000 sq ft of LEED-certified projects in 2012, and by year-end, 53 of its banking centers had achieved certification. During 2012, it achieved its first LEED certifications in Asia, including buildings in Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Chennai and Seoul. It now has more than 17 million square feet of LEED-certified workspace.
BoA has been inviting vendors to respond to the CDP supply chain survey since 2009, and last year, 88 percent of its 163 significant vendors participated, up from 83 percent in 2011. The company also integrated environmental criteria into its vendor sourcing, and last year started a grant to encourage vendors to establish public carbon-reduction targets.
BoA cut its water consumption 5.4 percent last year, from 14.7 million cubic meters in 2011 to 13.9 million cubic meters in 2012. Since 2010 it has cut water consumption by 12 percent, en route to a target of 20 percent by 2015.
BoA says most of its reductions came from irrigation control installation, space consolidation and fixture upgrades. It installed smart irrigation controllers at over 190 locations last year, to calculate daily needs based on rainfall, temperature, humidity and other variables. It expects that these devices will save over 200 million gallons of water.
In 2012 it recycled or reused more than a million gallons of water, up from about 600,000 in 2011.
The bank is aiming to cut water use 20 percent by 2015, from a 2010 baseline of 4.2 billion gallons per year. Achieving this goal will save about 840 million gallons annually, the bank says.
Waste management and recycling
The company diverted 62 percent of waste from landfill in 2012, up from 60 percent in 2011 – slower than expected progress, the company says, towards its goal of 70 percent by 2015. It sent 55,072 metric tons of waste to landfill and incineration in 2012, down from 58,176 in 2012. The company says its waste and recycling programs drove annualized cost avoidance of nearly $150,000 in 2012, giving cumulative savings of nearly $1 million since 2010.
The company is an e-Stewards enterprise and has committed to disposing of all electronic waste through certified, responsible vendors by 2015. BofA says it has developed an internal plan to identify and track all electronic waste streams and to ensure that recyclers have appropriate certifications, and is on track to achieve the 2015 goal.
The company sourced 99 percent of its paper from certified forests in 2012, closing in on its 100 percent goal for 2015. In 2011, it used 97 percent certified paper.
The bank has reduced paper use by 14 percent since 2010 – and by 13.5 percent year-on-year, from 63,778 metric tons in 2011 to 55,183 in 2012. It is aiming for a 20 percent cut by 2015, from the 2010 baseline.
BoA has implemented electronic methods for many types of customer communications and transactions. In 2012, it delivered nearly 392 million digital correspondences through online banking and other channels.
The company is also targeting an average of 20 percent post-consumer recycled content by 2015, but this metric fell last year to 8 percent, from 9 percent in 2011. BoA says it has significantly increased the percentage of post-consumer waste in its internal copy paper, up to 30 percent or more in most locations. It did not offer a reason for the overall decline.
Click for coverage of Bank of America’s 2011 CSR report.
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