Commonwealth Bank drives sustainability through volume certification

"Green Star certifications provide a reputable benchmark to align our activities in the retail space with our sustainability goals"

JENNIFER SAIZ

Executive General Manager, Group Property and Security

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia believes that businesses play a crucial role in facilitating sustainable development.

Green Star Certification is a key part of the bank’s long-term sustainability strategy with the impressive certification of 20 branches to a 5 or 6 Star Green Star level during the past two years.

“Green Star certifications provide a reputable benchmark to align our activities in the retail space with our sustainability goals,” Jennifer Saiz, Executive General Manager, Group Property and Security, explains.

“The efforts of our sustainability program, with a particular focus on energy efficiency, have seen our carbon footprint drop by 53.5 per cent since 2009.”

Jennifer says this is partly due to energy efficiency across the bank’s branch network, which has used Green Star Volume Certification to boost its sustainability credentials.

To recognise their industry leading Green Star commitments, Commonwealth Bank was awarded the CitySwitch Signatory of the Year in 2017 for energy and sustainability projects across their commercial and retail portfolios.  The Green Star volume certification program played a pivotal role in the achievement of this award; the standard application of energy efficient lighting, equipment, appliances and on-site solar were called out as key stand-out features for retail.

In a nutshell, volume certification allows a team to take the best sustainability practices from one project and use them as a benchmark to replicate across multiple sites.

For Commonwealth Bank, this means 19 5 Star ‘Australian Excellence’ Green Star branches and one 6 Star ‘World Leadership’ Green Star branch are now certified. 

“We embarked on volume certification in 2015 and it has allowed us to emphasise and document sustainable choices regarding materials, equipment, processes and procedures against the Green Star – Interiors v1 framework.”

“We have a large number of retail branches nationally, which means our teams typically specify bulk materials, equipment and products to save costs, maintain uniformity and consider environmental impact,” explains Jennifer.

Working alongside JLL Sustainability Consultants, the Commonwealth Bank’s Property team originally set their sights on a 5 Star Green Star – Interiors rating, demonstrating Australian Excellence to local industry. It was then the team discovered that the sky’s the limit.

 “The journey to 6 Stars began as a way of exploring as many standard credits as possible so we could replicate it across both metro and regional sites in a wide range of building types,” says Jennifer.

“Coupled with the base building sustainability attributes at 200 George Street in Sydney, the first branch certified under the program became the flagship of the volume program and a signal to market that sustainability can be embedded in the design, construction and operation of retail branches as the norm.”

In order to achieve this, the bank launched a national procurement strategy focusing on the environmental credentials of the products and materials used to build branches across its portfolio.

The average lighting intensity, based on the installation of LED lighting, is repeatedly performing 50% more efficiently than currently allowed for under the National Construction Code.

“In addition to the Green Star program, we have now installed solar panels on 48 retail sites resulting in 769 kWp with a goal to increase this to 1,000 kWp during FY19,” says Jennifer.

But it’s not just environmental sustainability that the business has focussed on during the process. Flexing its green thumb has enabled Commonwealth Bank to look at social sustainability as a core aspect of its practices, including:

  • Contractor education – workshops are run with the managing contractors working on new projects to provide education on the global effects of climate change, sustainability initiatives being implemented on specific sites and opportunities in the supply chain.  The majority of sites are located in regional and rural areas, therefore spreading sustainable practices outside of metro hubs.
  • Bulk procurement – adopting a policy around bulk procurement of products with sustainability credentials ensuring continual support for responsible products.  Many suppliers are now operating under the stewardship arrangements developed specifically on behalf of the bank.
  • The company is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and actively considers key developments such as the Sustainable Development Goals to evolve and refine its approach to corporate responsibility.
  • Commonwealth Bank recently signed up as one of our Carbon Positive Partners to help deliver a program of activities that will continue to transform the property industry.

It’s one of just many businesses who are championing sustainable change within their industry through Green Star.