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World Bank Cuts U.S. GHG Emissions 7%, Paper Use 15%

The World Bank has cut its overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the financial institution’s U.S. buildings by seven percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the company’s new corporate responsibility Website. The same facilities also cut their water use by four percent, waste to landfill by eight percent and paper consumption by 15 percent.

The results of the bank’s eight-year sustainability efforts were released at the new corporate responsibility Website, which provides detailed information about the organization’s sustainability practices and efforts, particularly at its Washington DC office.

Over this time period, the World Bank has implemented major efforts into improving energy and water efficiency at Washington DC and country offices, reducing travel by increasing video-conferencing and pursuing green building certification in new and rehabilitated buildings.

The bank’s environmental responsibility is segmented by four priorities: climate commitment (measuring, reducing and reporting on GHG emissions), sustainable facilities (maximizing resources such as food, water and public goods), procuring sustainably (integrating sustainable practices into the purchase of goods for the company), and engaging staff (hosting outreach and events to encourage changes in behavior to reduce the company’s environmental impact).

Here are some highlights:

The World Bank’s use of paper has dropped by 39 percent since 2006 through improvements such as default settings for double-sided printing on copiers, requiring printers and copiers to run recycled-content paper, and encouraging the use of alternative, digital formats for presentations and reports. One purchasing strategy gives a 70:30 weighting to sustainability criteria over price.

By retrofitting the bank’s Washington DC-based bathrooms with water-conserving fixtures and reducing evaporation from cooling towers, water use has dropped by 34 percent in the last four years. The office also has diverted about 44 percent of its waste from landfills into recyclables and compostable material.

The World Bank’s DC office also is one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top 50 green power purchasers. The Green Power Partnership’s top purchasers use more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

World Bank country offices such as Macedonia, Mali and India are showcasing ways to reduce environmental impact in their countries through high-efficiency building design and resource use.

The World Bank has set additional goals to reduce its environmental footprint including a process to develop a Sustainability Management System (SMS) in the next year.

In addition to lowering emissions in its buildings, the World Bank is developing ways to measure GHG emissions from its energy, transport and forestry projects around the world, piloting ten projects globally.

The new Website also documents progress in the bank’s social responsibility commitments. A key highlight cited was reaching a 30-35 percent target of women in managerial posts and setting a new target of 50 percent by 2012.

The Website supports the bank’s recent commitment to increased transparency and accountability through its new Access to Information policy.

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