Minimizing Our Impact on the Environment
October 26, 2015
Climate change and resource scarcity are among society's greatest challenges. As a global company, American Express recognizes its responsibility to minimize its operational impact on the environment whenever and wherever possible. Our programs focus on reducing the impact of our activities on the local and global environment by reducing GHG emissions, conserving energy and other resources, influencing the behavior of all our stakeholders, and investing in green building design.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction
As global citizens, we take our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions seriously. We follow the GHG Protocol for measuring and reporting our emissions, most of which are indirect (Scope 2) and result from the generation of purchased electricity. We also report Scope 3 CO2 emissions from employee air, car and train travel. We are transparent about our environmental sustainability efforts and have submitted an annual response to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) since 2007.
On-site green power generation, energy efficiency initiatives, and the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) helped American Express reduce its carbon emissions by 27.5% between 2007 and 2012. Building on this achievement, American Express has committed to reduce absolute GHG emissions by 10% globally (vs. 2011 baseline) by 2016.
- At year-end of 2014, we were on track to achieve our new goal with an absolute carbon emissions reduction of 9%. We avoided the emission of 16,529 tons of CO2 since 2011, which is equivalent of the CO2 emissions of 3,480 passenger vehicles.
Investment in Renewables
The Environmental Protection Agency recognized American Express as a top user of sustainable energy, naming us number 48 on its annual National Top 100 list of the largest green power users in the United States. We will continue to maximize our positive impact through purchasing of renewable energy credits, on-site and distributed solar generation.
- In 2014, 55% of the electricity used to power all American Express U.S. operations (including 100% of the electricity used to power company headquarters) was carbon-free, utilizing a mix of wind, biogas, biomass and solar energy.
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. Our flexible workplace program BlueWork better utilizes work space, reduces our carbon footprint and encourages telecommuting and virtual meetings.
We also promote ridesharing, cycling to work and taking public transportation through various programs. In Phoenix and Florida, we have formal car pool options for employees. In New York, we launched the Point2Point free bike-share program for employees to use around our local headquarters.
- 30% of our facilities square footage is green-building certified, a 150% increase from last year.
- 40% of our global square footage is designed under BlueWork standards.
- We increased our Telepresence studios by 15% from last year with a total of 73 Telepresence studios in 49 office locations.
Data centers are crucial to our ability to deliver the products and services our customers rely on. They house thousands of servers and data storage and networking equipment, accounting for nearly 34% of American Express total energy use globally.
- In 2014, 70% of the electricity used by our U.S Data Centers came from green power.
- Our U.S. Data centers are certified for ISO 14001-2004 and ISO 9001-2008.
- Our newest Information Processing Center located in North Carolina is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified and incorporates solar and thermal energy.
- American Express Information Processing Center in Arizona is EPA Energy Star certified, consuming 35% less energy and generating 35% less carbon emission than buildings of similar size and function in the U.S.
Paper Usage and Green IT
When it meets our quality standards, we prioritize the sourcing of environmentally preferable paper, electronics and other commodities. We are pursuing initiatives to reduce our overall paper consumption and encourage customers to opt for paperless statements and electronic payments. We are also working with our suppliers to ensure that fiber is sourced from well-managed forests and our electronics follow energy efficiency standards.
- In 2014, 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.
- Between 2011 and 2014, we reduced our office paper consumption by 18%.
- 39% of customer statements were paperless in 2014.
- 85% of customer payments were electronic in 2014.
- 100% of our laptops and monitors are Energy Star certified.
We realize that business growth has implications for our environmental footprint and that we will need to engage our stakeholders, including our employees, to continue reducing our impact. We do so through regular communications, events and trainings, volunteer opportunities, and involvement in projects that conserve energy and resources in the workplace.
- Over 4,000 employees participated in our Green2Gether Promise during Earth Month.
- 80% of our global real estate portfolio participated in Earth Hour
- 1,000 employees participated, with their friends and family, in over 50 green volunteer projects in 2014, equivalent to more than 5,000 hours of environmental stewardship.
- We provided over $900k in support for environment and wildlife through Gift Matching and Serve2Gether grant programs.
If you have a question or comment, follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and post them there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog with your friends and colleagues.
Welcome to CSR Now!, a weekly blog designed to get at what’s happening in Corporate Social Responsibility today – from the point of view of a corporate practitioner.
Let's Be Green2Gether!
Reporting from the 2017 American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit
The Vital Voice