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Banking on the future

Energy efficiency and carbon management award Runner-up: Absa Bsnk

After working out a baseline of its electricity consumption in 2010, the company set a target to cut energy usage by 12.5% from 2011 to 2013. “Last year’s savings accounted for more than 11% of our total 2010 consumption,” he said.

Three hundred of the 1 000 Absa facilities around the country implemented energy management systems to ensure their buildings become more energy efficient and produce better business results. The capital expenditure spent on this was just under R50-million.

More than 250 smart meters were installed to control electricity usage and energy-efficient lighting was introduced in collaboration with Eskom’s integrated demand management programme.

In addition, the company upgraded infrastructure and improved the power usage effectiveness in buildings where the energy use is intense, such as the technology-intensive data centres, said  Martins.

All areas encouraged
The Green Building Association recently gave the executive head office at Absa Towers West a five-star rating. More than 3 000 staff work in the building, where an energy centre uses gas turbines and saves an estimated 19 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

“This achievement, together with the group-wide energy efficiency projects, was communicated throughout the group and all areas are encouraged to do their bit to support the carbon strategy,” said Martins.

The head office also features the largest grey-water system in South Africa, capable of recycling 43 000 litres of water a day. A digital lighting interface system with motion sensors and daylight dimmers reduces the lighting energy to a minimum.

But the focus for the past two years has been on electricity because it contributes more than 90% of the company’s carbon footprint. The company put systems in place to measure electricity consumption and increased the metered sites to more than 60% by the end of last year.

“We looked at three perspectives during our three years of planning: the way we do our business and how we improve on it; how we contribute to the economy; and who will benefit within our community,” he said.

“We focus on one thing at a time and try to make a significant difference there first. Our water usage is low compared to our electricity usage – Absa is basically an information technology company – but our plan is to start working on water management strategy and policy in the near future.”

The Greening judges commended Absa’s investment in reducing its carbon footprint across the group. The roll-out of energy-saving interventions would pay long-term dividends not only for the company, but also for the rest of society and the environment, they said.

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