Carbon, Energy and Business Travel
We have achieved our carbon neutrality commitment and our goal of sourcing 100% renewable power for our global electricity needs by year-end 2020 (99.1% is market-matched according to criteria from RE100). Additionally, we surpassed our 2020 goal of reducing our absolute energy use by 10% and achieved a reduction of 27% across our operationally-controlled facilities off of our 2013 baseline.
2025 Commitments around Carbon, Energy and Business Travel
- Achieve Net Zero emissions in our operations and supply chain by 2030
- Reduce energy intensity (kWh / sf) by 20% from a 2017 baseline for offices under operational control
- Extend Scope 3 carbon neutrality commitment for business travel to include hotel night stays
- Ensure that 80% of renewable energy procurement is from long-term, impactful agreements, such as power purchase agreements or on-site generation
- Establish a green traveler program for Goldman Sachs employees to minimize the environmental impact of business travel
In 2015, Goldman Sachs achieved carbon neutrality across our operations and business travel, well ahead of our 2020 goal, and has maintained this commitment each year since. To continue setting ambitious targets, we are expanding our operational carbon commitment to include our supply chain, targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. For our own business operations, we are already looking to 2025 with a commitment to deepening our performance in key areas such as energy management and direct renewable energy sourcing, and net zero is the natural next step of our climate journey. Our road to net zero will include actions that are focused across three key areas: our vendors, our people and our communities.
Our vendors represent a notable expansion to the scope of our commitment. To begin dialogues with our vendors around their own emissions management programs, we have joined CDP Supply Chain as a lead member this year. Through this program, we plan to engage with key vendors to disclose their emissions to us, understand their climate actions and help them build their capacity to realize further carbon reductions.
Our people will also be key to reducing our firm’s emissions footprint through everyday decisions on how we work and travel. We plan to provide increased transparency around our work-related emissions so our people know how their decisions can support our progress.
Our communities are also part of the global journey to net zero. Ambitious actions to reduce the footprint of our vendors and our people is just one part of the story; addressing our remaining emissions to get to net zero will require investment in carbon removal, a market that is still nascent. By identifying opportunities to partner with our financing groups, we will aim to bring new carbon removal technology solutions to market, enabling achievement of net zero carbon not only for ourselves, but also for others to minimize their impact on climate change.
In 2020, we maintained our carbon neutral commitment through the implementation of our Carbon Reduction Framework, which prioritizes energy reduction initiatives across our facilities, followed by the procurement of renewable electricity and high-quality certified carbon offsets that support the growth of low carbon markets where we operate. We take a measured approach to build a portfolio of diverse assets balancing cost with:
- Third-party verification and accounting integrity
- Minimal delivery risk
- Social, environmental and health co-benefits and/or the benefit of furthering environmental market solutions
As part of our Carbon Reduction Framework, we factor an internal price on carbon into energy efficiency, renewable energy and other emissions reduction activities through the use of a return on investment model. This return on investment model prioritizes internal reduction measures across both our offices and data centers.
We achieved our goal of sourcing renewable energy for 100% of our global electricity needs in 2020, which enables us to achieve carbon neutrality while supporting the expansion of renewable energy projects. Our strategy continues to focus on reviewing direct renewable energy sourcing opportunities, like long term power purchase agreements and when this is not feasible, procuring high-quality, and credible, renewable energy certificates.
Long Term PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)
Ayco Personal Financial Management: In April 2019, we signed a Long Term PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) to bring online a 1.0 megawatt solar carport system to the new headquarters of our Ayco business. The project represented an approximately $3.5mm investment in the local community, creating approximately 50 construction jobs during the development. This solar carport system is the firm’s first major large scale on-site renewable energy project that powers 60% of the building.
Bengaluru Campus: We executed two PPAs to deploy 100%of the energy requirements for our Bengaluru campuses including a 10MW wind energy project in the Belgaum district of Karnataka and a 50MW solar power plant in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka. This signals great progress towards our 2025 goal to source 80%of our renewable energy from long-term, impactful agreements, including PPAs and on-site generation.
Iron Mountain Green Power Pass
Goldman Sachs was an Early Adopter of the Iron Mountain Green Power Pass, an industry endorsed accounting process established by the Future of Internet Power (FoIP) work group to accurately report energy consumed at colocation data centers. Green Power Pass identifies Goldman Sachs volume of energy used and validates that 100 percent of the power they use at Iron Mountain data centers is from qualifying renewable resources. This enables Goldman Sachs to report this power as zero emissions. We receive an annual audited certificate of attestation with full documentation on the source and chain-of-custody of the wind, solar or other renewable electricity associated with each data center. As an Early Adopter, we demonstrated our faith in the strength and merit of the Green Power Pass to our peers, encouraging broader adoption of the program and methodology.
As our workforce transitioned to their homes in response to COVID-19, our Asset Management Division and Corporate & Workplace Solutions teams partnered to work with Arcadia to offer all Goldman Sachs employees in the United States free access to renewable energy to offset their carbon footprint at home. Arcadia offers renewable energy to homeowners and renters nationwide by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and managing users’ utility accounts on their behalf.
Maximizing the Energy Efficiency of Our Offices and Data Centers
In 2020, we surpassed our goal of a 10% absolute energy reduction by reducing our usage by 23% from a 2013 baseline across our operationally-controlled facilities. We will continue to pursue further energy reductions through the utilization of our Carbon Reduction Framework.
Our strategy is to continuously move into more energy efficient real estate, consolidate our spaces and improve our technology offerings in order to reduce our carbon footprint.
Optimizing existing buildings
Over the past two years, we have completed several energy efficiency projects in our global offices, investing over $1.4M in energy efficiency retrofits, which yield annual carbon savings for over 3,400 metric tons. Some examples of our projects include retrofitting our lights to LED and upgrading HVAC systems.
In 2018, we received the Climate Leadership Award in the Innovative Partnership category, for our work with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and the Building Energy Exchange and in creating a Living Lab at our corporate headquarters by retrofitting lightings, shading and controls to pilot new technologies and promote continuous innovation. The most effective solutions developed have been released in a white paper that outlines key findings from the Living Lab, including ways to decrease operating costs, lower energy use and reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
I. Using space smartly
We have increased the efficiency of our real estate by adopting a Global Workplace Standard. As a result, we have decreased the floor area per seat by 25% or more, resulting in reduced energy costs and material use.
The Global Workplace Standard includes an open floor design and reduction of enclosed offices. Desks are located along the perimeter, and offices along the building core. These efforts enhance our operational efficiency, promote collaboration and communication by increasing our people’s access to each other and improve our working environment by increasing access to daylight and views.
We are also adopting a new workplace approach to support our flexible work patterns. Currently, more than 5,000 of our people have adopted this new way of working across multiple divisions and locations. With the opening of our new campuses in Bengaluru and London, 30% of our employees sit in flexible workspaces. Implementing this workplace approach will provide additional variety and choice of work settings while further decreasing the floor area per staff allocation which increases our energy efficiency.
Our new workplace also encourages flexibility and mobility, through the implementation of activity-based working, height-adjustable desks and centralized personal storage. Going forward, all new buildings and significant refurbishments will have height-adjustable desks.
II. Deploying new technology solutions
Our Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) enables a highly efficient desktop computing environment in our offices and facilitates:
Desktop Power Management: We have deployed globally refreshed our desktops and monitors offering lower power utilization and is combined with our power-management solution. Our power-management solution, which is deployed on approximately 50,000 Desktop Client PCs across our global offices, saves an estimated $1 million annually on power and associated cooling costs.
Desktop Video Conferencing: Our continued adoption of personal computer and smart device-based video collaboration solutions enables wider access to video conference services for our global communication needs. The strategy results in reduced global travel requirements, less energy consumption than traditional video conference rooms, and access to firm video services from any global location.
Work from Home Collaboration Tools: In light of COVID-19, we have rolled out a suite of collaboration tools (e.g., Zoom, Jabber) to enable our people to stay connected with each other, our clients and stakeholders. These tools are an opportunity to drive real change through our system and enable more modern ways of working without needing additional hardware which would drive up energy use.
III. Reducing the Impact of Our Data Centers
We work to maximize the operational efficiency of the building infrastructure and technology systems in our data centers by consolidating facilities, by driving efficiency in how we power and cool the facilities through deployments such as chiller plant optimization, LED lighting and partial free cooling infrastructure.
Environmental Data Verification
We ensure the accuracy of our environmental metrics and data collection processes by maintaining a robust internal inventory management plan, by continuously enhancing our carbon accounting methodology, and through obtaining third party verification of our Scope 1, 2, Scope 3 business travel emissions and water withdrawal. Our carbon accounting methodology will be updated accordingly, with the announcement of our commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in our operations and supply chain by 2030.
Green Business Travel
We offset all business travel emissions annually as part of our continued commitment to remain carbon neutral. In an effort to reduce absolute emissions, GS employees are equipped with information about how to reduce their environmental impact across firm programs (Air, Hotel, Rental Cars, Ride-sharing), including taking public transport if available or reviewing the carbon footprint of their flight before booking.