In their element: leading companies' strategies for a low-carbon future and their approaches to energy use were the topics up for discussion at a round-table debate hosted by FM.

AuthorCurtis, Peter


How is your organisation preparing for the energy-efficient economy of the future? And what are the main factors driving the changes you're making?

Mike Kelly, head of corporate social responsibility, KPMG Europe: Our carbon footprint mainly comes from our 30 offices and business travel. There are two main drivers of our activity. The first is that clients look at our environmental performance. The second driver is our workforce. We will recruit 2,000 to 2,500 graduates this year. The limits to our growth are the number of people prepared to work for us--and they ask us questions about sustainability. We have also challenged our very bright employees to change our business model. Until the airlines can build aeroplanes that don't emit any carbon dioxide, they need to help us find alternatives.

We've set ourselves emissions targets for 2050. At Canary Wharf, for example, we're having nearly 500,000sq ft of offices built. These will certainly hit the G8 numbers and probably comply with the London action plan and the current ELI directive.

Martin Blake, head of sustainability, Royal Mail: At any given time Royal Mail has 35,000 vehicles on the road and we do two million miles a night. We consume the same amount of electricity as a town with 45,000 houses. Our carbon footprint is currently about 800,000 tonnes--the equivalent of 99 billion party balloons. With diesel and electricity prices going up the way they are, cost is a significant driver. We were spending 500m [pounds sterling] on transport annually. In the space of a year that's risen to about 750m [pounds sterling]. Our electricity bill a couple of years ago was 23m [pounds sterling]. Now it's probably closer to 70m [pounds sterling].

We see hydrogen fuel cell technology as the way forward for transport, whereas hybrid vehicles are probably a transition technology. So we will probably stick with our high-efficiency diesel vehicles for the time being. Technological solutions have helped us to save a significant amount of mileage. The introduction of 350 double-decker trailers, for example, has reduced the carbon footprint of our heavy fleet by 20 per cent.

We know that new builds for 2019 need to be zero carbon. So we are looking for on-site renewable generation for them via combined heat and power or tri-generation.

Caroline Stockwell, senior associate, safety, health and environment, DLA Piper: We are a global law firm with 64 offices in 25 countries. Every time we establish an office we introduce ISO14001-style procedures. We were the first law firm to be included in the Business in the Community corporate responsibility index and we were instrumental in forming the Legal Sector Alliance--a group of organisations working collaboratively to reduce their carbon footprint.

Sustainability programmes are driven by two factors in most organisations. One is the operation cost of using energy and generating waste. The other is enhancing your brand and maintaining a good corporate reputation. Another factor in some countries is regulation controlling greenhouse gas...

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