Sky fall: Telecoms giant sees carbon intensity plummet following energy efficiency drive

Global media company Sky Group has made strong progress with its carbon intensity reduction target after ramping up investment in energy-efficient buildings, according to its latest sustainability report.

The front cover of Sky's Bigger Picture Performance report. The company remains on track to halve UK emissions by 2020

The front cover of Sky's Bigger Picture Performance report. The company remains on track to halve UK emissions by 2020

For the first time in its Bigger Picture Performance CSR update, Sky plotted its performance using a science-based benchmark, against a 2010 baseline, in a bid to inform future target-setting in support of the global effort to keep global warming within 2C.

An 8% reduction in the group’s carbon intensity from 11.53 TCO2e/£m in 2015 to 10.57 TCO2e/£m in 2016 is the standout figure in the report - which marks Sky's first year of measuring environmental performance as a 'group'.

This fall in energy intensity was largely driven by energy efficiency improvements, the group says, with all new buildings certified through the LEED or BREAM environmental assessments. The company has also reportedly profited from the improved use of on-site renewables, including a combined cooling, heating and power generation system which was made fully operational at a UK site this year.

Sky Group chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “At Sky, we understand that our success is based not just on what we do, but how we go about it. Two years on from the creation of the enlarged Sky group our responsible business strategy is deeply embedded and we are creating even more opportunities to reach beyond our business and make a positive contribution in our communities.”

Sky's limits

In the UK and Ireland, Sky remains on track to halve emissions by 2020, having so far achieved a 44% reduction in carbon emissions relative to turnover against the 2008 baseline. Installations of more efficient LED lighting and automatic light sensors greatly improved the energy efficiency of contact centres in the UK, the group says. However, Sky’s fleet fuel efficiency performance dropped from 11% to 8% in 2015/16, as an energy-intensive vehicle fleet curtailed the company’s progress against a 15% target.

Meanwhile, an internal waste-reduction campaign engaging employees in the types of recycling available has helped to see an increase in performance against waste targets, with 1% of waste across the firm's main sites sent to landfill. Tonnes of waste recycled have increased by 9% since last year and the company is on track to reach a target of zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Beyond its own operations, Sky displayed leadership in global environmental issues through a variety of initiatives last year, including a pledge to the RE100 scheme which helped enhance the company’s existing commitment to 100% renewable electricity in the UK and Ireland. The firm reached the completion of the Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign last September - a six-year partnership with WWF which helped to raise more than £9m, save one billion trees in the Amazon and raise awareness of deforestation.

Sustainable media

Sky’s latest CSR report reflects a growing trend of global media companies managing environmental impacts through new measures such as energy efficiency and on-site renewable generation.

Rival telecoms firm Virgin Media recently recorded its "biggest ever" annual carbon reduction, with emissions falling by 6.1% between 2014 and 2015 as a part of the firm's 'Digital for Good' sustainability programme launched last year.

Meanwhile, BT is on course to help its customers reduce carbon emissions by three times the end-to-end carbon impact of its own operations by 2020, with the group's latest sustainability report revealing that it achieved a customer-to-business carbon reduction ration of 1.6 to one last year.

And, off the back of rising greenhouse gas emissions, Vodafone is championing 'energy innovation' as one of three new 'global transformation goals' under a new, 10-year Sustainable Business strategy.

George Ogleby


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