Promoting Environmental Sustainability - A 3rd Quarter 2014 CSR Report
August 11, 2014
In keeping with our longstanding commitment to community service and corporate citizenship, American Express recognizes its responsibility to the environment, to help ensure its health and well-being for generations to come. In the past few years, we have taken measurable actions to reduce our carbon footprint, optimize the efficiency and sustainability of our workplace, support our customers to reduce their own environmental footprints, and engage our suppliers and employees to act in more sustainable ways.
Managing Our Carbon Footprint
We are making steady progress toward our voluntary goal to reduce our carbon footprint by 10% between 2011 and 2016. This goal spans all of our global operations in more than 40 countries and represents an overall global reduction in aggregate GHG emissions of more than 35% from our 2006 baseline. At year-end 2013 we were on track to achieve this goal, having reduced our carbon footprint by approximately 33.5% since 2006. This is equivalent to eliminating the annual GHG emissions of more than 22,030 passenger vehicles.
2013 Footprint: Sources Breakdown
Creating Sustainable Facilities
Our Real Estate team has built upon a foundation of tested strategies to systematically reduce our environmental impact, minimize capital cost to the business, and improve employee satisfaction.
In 2013, over 400 energy initiatives were implemented globally including infrastructure-based lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, Building Management System optimizations, and retro-commissioning audits.
Despite the decrease in energy consumption of most of our facilities through these optimization initiatives, we expect the electricity usage for our data centers to increase in the next five years due to the digitization and growth of our business. To offset that trend, and because we believe it is important to use cleaner forms of energy, we have been buying green power since 2010. We estimate that 23 percent of the electricity purchased in 2013 was carbon-free, using a mix of wind, biogas, biomass and solar energy.
Our sustainable facilities story is also woven into the fabric of our employees' daily routine. BlueWork, our flexible workplace program, allows American Express employees to better utilize company work space and work remotely. The installation of 63 telepresence studios in 46 office locations encourages virtual meetings, reduces the need for travel, and contributes positively to our carbon reduction target.
Finally, we are continuously seeking to improve the environmental profile of our buildings. We invest in processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle. To date, five of our biggest facilities were recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council and other international standards for environmental best practices. This past March our 200 Vesey Street Global Headquarters was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification under the "Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance" (EBOM) v2009 rating system. Features include low-flow water fixtures and energy supply that utilizes 100-percent green power.
Engaging Our Suppliers and Employees to Act More Sustainably
While paper is still an important communications channel for us, we are encouraging employees to use this renewable resource more efficiently, recycling when feasible, and working with suppliers to ensure that fiber is sourced from well-managed forests.
The paper-related eco-initiative launched in 2005 by the Direct Marketing Service team has saved over 11 million pounds of paper by reducing the paper weight of envelopes and shrinking the size of our catalogues. In 2013, 91% of the paper used in the U.S. direct marketing areas was certified from responsibly-managed forests and 84% by the Forest Stewardship Council, the most recognized standard in the industry. The installation of network printers and default double-sided printing resulted in a 20% reduction of our office paper consumption in the U.S. in 2013. Finally our continuous efforts to promote online account services for customers resulted in an increase in the number of paperless customer statements and electronic payments, by 9% and 7% respectively since 2010.
Engaging employees in the company's environmental responsibility programs is also a priority. We do so through regular communications, events and trainings, volunteer opportunities, and involvement in projects that conserve energy and resources in the workplace. In 2013, more than 895 employees volunteered with their families and friends in 120 "green events" such as planting trees, beach clean-ups and caring for community gardens. We also give our employees the opportunity to donate to environmental organizations through our Give2Gether partnership with EarthShare - the leading network of environmental charities.
We realize that business growth has implications for our environmental footprint and that we will need to engage all our stakeholders, including suppliers and employees, to successfully continue reducing our impact. We are also seeking continuous improvement to our Environmental Management System, which encompasses data quality, reliability and transparency. We will continue to incorporate environmental responsibility into our operations, act on opportunities to help our customers reduce their own footprints through innovative products, services and materials use. Finally, where we can, we will also aim to raise awareness of environmental responsibility through our spheres of influence.
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P.S. CSR Now! will be on summer hiatus until Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Enjoy the rest of the summer!