Standard Life goes green

News & Insights

Sandy Macdonald

4th November 2014 at 11:57am

Last weekend, I took advantage of a rare free day to drive up north and climb Schiehallion, a munro near Aberfeldy. A few years ago, the estate of East Schiehallion was taken over by the John Muir Trust, who have built a new path that can deal better with the volume of people walking to the top. And in so doing they’ve made it easier and more accessible for people to engage with and appreciate the natural landscape without damaging it.

As someone who loves the great outdoors and cares passionately that it’s preserved so future generations can love and appreciate it too, it got me thinking about how a large business like ours plays its part in looking after the environment.

So, what do we do?

At Standard Life we started out, like many businesses do, by looking at how we could minimise our own impact. We set our first long-term environment targets back in 2006, and we established ‘green teams’ to encourage our people to come up with ideas to help us achieve these targets. Over the 8 years since then we’ve continuously stretched our targets for the energy we use, the amount we recycle, and the amount of resource we use in the first place.

This year, we’ve made a Resource Efficient Scotland pledge to aim for zero waste to landfill – and we’re on track to meet it.This year, we’ve made a Resource Efficient Scotland pledge to aim for zero waste to landfill – and we’re on track to meet it. Our paper and energy usage are 25% less than they were in 2006, despite greater customer demand. And in the UK, we purchase our electricity entirely from renewable sources.

We’re far from perfect, and we continue to work hard to improve even further. Our main focus over the past year has been on how we can reduce emissions generated from travel. As a growing, global business, we need a certain amount of travel to achieve our business objectives. However, we’ve invested in technology that can help us reduce the amount of travel we need to do. And we’ve run various initiatives to engage our people in how they can reduce the travel they do, or choose more environmentally friendly options.

We encourage people to travel by train rather than plane for domestic business travel. Last year we ran our first group-wide ‘green travel’ week and this week it’s green travel week again. Air travel is banned for the week and we’re running sessions to promote the ways technology can help reduce costs and help the environment. Last year we ran our first group-wide ‘green travel’ week and this week it’s green travel week again. Air travel is banned for the week and we’re running sessions to promote the ways technology can help reduce costs and help the environment. We’re also encouraging our people to consider cycling or walking to work.

Focusing on our operations is good but we’re using our influence as a supplier and investor to make a difference too.

So what does this actually mean?

  • Our procurement team ask our suppliers to meet minimum standards in relation to the environment
  • Our real estate team look at how we can improve the environmental impact of our building portfolio
  • Our Responsible Investment team ensure that the companies we invest in are limiting their environmental impact
  • Our Governance and Stewardship team ensure we hold companies to account where we feel they could do better.

We believe responsible, sustainable businesses make for a better investment over the longer term.

Hopefully all of this means that future generations can appreciate the beauty and wonder of our natural world as much as we do. Who knows, they may even climb Schiehallion on a day when they can see something other than grey cloud and rain from the summit.

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