Carbon, Energy and Business Travel

We have achieved our carbon neutrality commitment and are progressing toward our goal of 100% renewable power for our global electricity needs by year-end 2020 (98% coverage to date). Additionally, in 2019, we surpassed our 2020 goal of a 10% absolute energy reduction by reducing our usage by 12% across our operationally-controlled facilities. 

2025 Commitments around Carbon, Energy and Business Travel

  • Reduce energy intensity 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

Carbon Neutrality

We have pledged to be carbon neutral from fiscal year 2015 onward.  This commitment includes global direct Scope 1, indirect (market-based) Scope 2 and Scope 3 business travel emissions.

In 2019, 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 (through Green-E certified Renewable Energy Certificates and Guarantees of Origin) and high-quality certified carbon offsets that support the growth of low carbon markets where we operate.  In doing so, we continue to explore the evolving marketplace of green power purchases and carbon offsets. 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.

Renewable Energy

We are committed to procuring 100% renewable electricity to meet our global needs by 2020, which enables us to achieve carbon neutrality while supporting the expansion of renewable energy projects. Our strategy focuses 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.

In 2019, we have continued our procurement of Green-E certified RECs to cover 100% of our US and Canadian operations, as well as Guarantees of Origin for 100% of European operations. Additionally, we achieved 100% renewable electricity procurement for our Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and UAE operations. Having achieved these milestones, our total procurement of certified renewable energy credits was equivalent to 98% of our global electricity needs in 2019.

Long Term PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)

In April 2019, we signed a Long Term PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) to bring online a 1.4 megawatt solar carport system to the new headquarters of our Ayco business. This solar carport system is the firm’s first major large scale on-site renewable energy project that powers 60% of the building. The system is expected to be operational in summer 2020.  


Maximizing the Energy Efficiency of Our Offices and Data Centers

In 2019, we surpassed our 2020 goal of a 10% absolute energy reduction by reducing our usage by 12% 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

We completed several energy efficiency projects in our global offices in 2019, and commenced several others. We invested approximately $1.2M in energy efficiency retrofits that will result in annual carbon savings of over 3,000 metric tons. Some examples of our projects include retrofitting our lights to LED (most recently our global headquarters in New York and Jersey City office).

Additionally, 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: Our power-management solution, which is deployed on approximately 40,000 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 (Zoom, BlueJeans, 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.

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 them and by optimizing the efficiency and utilization of technology equipment.

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.


Additional Links

Carbon Accounting & Reporting Methodology

2019 Carbon Emissions Verification Statement

2019 Verification Statement Water Withdrawal

Sustainability Report