Nationwide rewarded with Carbon Trust Triple Standard after exceeding sustainability targets

The world's largest building society, Nationwide, has become the first high street financial services provider in the UK to achieve triple re-certification to the Carbon Trust Standards for its "holistic approach" to managing carbon, water and waste.

The re-certification comes off the back of positive year-on-year progress made across the triumvirate of energy, water and waste, with the Carbon Trust’s independent certification recognising Nationwide’s successful approach to measuring, managing and reducing its environmental impact. 

“As the world’s largest building society, we recognise our responsibility to build a truly sustainable business,” said Nationwide’s divisional director for branch and workplace transformation Jenny Groves. “Our vision is to be among the best performers for environmental sustainability in the UK financial services sector and becoming the first high-street financial services provider to be awarded triple certification to the Carbon Trust Standard in 2014 demonstrated our success. 

“Since then we have also achieved certification to the Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain, recognising that we are working with our suppliers to help them reduce their emissions as well.”

Renewables revolution

In 2011, Nationwide Building Society set a series of ambitious environmental targets, including ensuring that 2020/21 carbon emissions remain at or below 2011 levels; reducing water consumption by 10% by 2015, and achieve zero waste to landfill by 2015.

The firm has made good progress: its carbon footprint has reduced by 13.5% compared to 2011 (exceeding the target); it has used 23.6% less water than in 2010/11 (also exceeding the target), and 100% of waste is now diverted from landfill (meeting the target). Moreover, Nationwide recently put in place a new power purchase agreement which will ensure that at least 50% of total electricity use will be generated for the building society on a solar farm.

New sustainability targets have now been agreed: Nationwide wants to keep carbon emissions down to 2015 levels; reduce water use by 5% by 2020, and reduce waste by 100 tonnes and increase recycling to at least 80% by 2020.

Commenting on the triple re-certification to the Carbon Trust Standards, the Trust’s managing director of certification Darran Messem said: “We have been working with Nationwide since 2010 and over that period the organisation has consistently been one of the strongest performers on sustainability in the financial services sector. We are impressed by the holistic approach the team at Nationwide takes to reducing environmental impact and making ongoing improvements.”

Green finance

Nationwide is joined by a growing number of British financial institutions that are moving sustainability up the corporate agenda. Barclays Bank’s latest sustainability report revealed it had reduced its carbon footprint by 37% – far exceeding a two-year target of a 10% reduction. The Co-operative Bank, meanwhile, reported reductions in waste and water use and the sourcing of 99% of its electricity from renewables in its 2015 values and ethics report.

More broadly, financial institutions have moved into the spotlight when it comes to climate finance. At last year’s landmark conference on climate change in Paris, the World Bank led a charge towards providing more financial aid to the poor, to enable countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming.

The Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney recently claimed that close to $7trn will need to be spent on new green infrastructure across the globe in order to cut carbon emissions over the next 20 years.

Luke Nicholls

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