In 2018, UOB retrofitted more than 14,000 m2 of workspace in Singapore to meet the diverse requirements of our colleagues.
Throughout the design process, we aimed to locate built-up areas, such as enclosed spaces and meeting rooms, toward the centre of the buildings and installed lower panels wherever feasible. These help to ensure that the open office spaces are exposed to maximum natural lighting during daytime, thereby minimising our use of artificial lighting. Further, by opting for LED lights, we have observed a 40 per cent reduction in lighting-related energy consumption at these spaces.
The retrofitted workspaces also included plants to enhance office occupants’ exposure to natural elements. Indoor plants have been shown to help improve office air quality by reducing levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds.
In the restrooms, we installed water closets with the best rating of three ticks under Singapore’s Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme. These enable us to consume 43 per cent less water than average.
We designed our workspace to maximise natural lighting and to reduce our dependence on artificial lighting.
Optimising Energy Use
Across our three main buildings in Singapore, our energy optimisation initiatives have yielded annual reductions of about 9.3 million kWh since 2016. This is equivalent to cost savings of close to $2.3 million a year. In China and Malaysia, we have been upgrading the heating ventilation and air conditioning systems and chillers in our buildings since 2016. These efforts have also yielded annual reductions of more than 1.6 million kWh, the equivalent of more than $230,000 in savings.
Within the offices and common spaces of our buildings, we have installed energy-efficient LED lighting wherever feasible. We also actively promote the use of natural lighting during day hours to reduce the need for artificial lighting.
In Thailand, for example, we installed more energy-efficient LED lighting at our headquarters building in Bangkok and achieved annual savings exceeding 442,000 kWh, equivalent to more than $60,000. In Indonesia, our use of natural lighting in restrooms yielded annual reductions of almost 140,000 kWh and more than $19,000 in cost savings. The installation of smart day-night lighting controls at the carpark of our China headquarters building in Shanghai also enabled us to reduce energy consumption by about 55,000 kWh per year and to save approximately $5,700 annually.
We are also conscious of the higher energy demand from our data centres and server rooms as we continued to invest in our technology infrastructure. Despite this, the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of our data centres in Singapore has improved by 18 per cent since 2013 to the current value of 1.78, which is lower than the global industry average of about 2.0.
Minimising Paper Use and Printing
We encourage our people to minimise paper consumption. In 2018, we implemented Managed Print Services (MPS) at our offices in Singapore to help our colleagues be more conscious of the way we print and use paper. For example, the secure print feature of centralised printers helps us to minimise paper waste created by uncollected printouts or abandoned print jobs. This enabled us to save 5,600 reams of paper, equivalent to 12 tonnes or 330 trees, in 2018. With MPS, we also optimised our fleet of printers by cutting the total number by 50 per cent. This lowered power consumption and reduced the overall physical footprint occupied by our print devices by close to 280 m2.
We also continued to print on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper our red packets, which are distributed annually to colleagues and customers across our network in celebration of the Lunar New Year. In addition, we stopped providing the UOB Annual Report on CD-ROMs in 2017 and have reduced the printing of hard copies. We provide a print copy, which is on FSC-certified paper, only when requested.
We are mindful that in the countries where we operate, some face high levels of water stress. For example, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Singapore could experience extremely high water stress and face intense competition for and potential depletion of surface water by 2040.
At UOB, we conserve water through the use of water-efficient fittings in our buildings. Our main office buildings in Singapore, UOB Plaza 1, UOB Plaza 2 and UOB Tower Block, have all received the Water Efficiency Building Award from the Singapore Public Utilities Board in recognition of our water conservation efforts.
The waste we generate comes mainly from paper, general waste and decommissioned office equipment which we dispose of or recycle through licensed waste management contractors. For example, we shred and recycle waste paper through reliable and licensed contractors.
In Singapore, where UOB’s head office is, all general, non-recycled waste is processed by waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration plants, where the volume of solid waste is reduced by about 90 per cent. This approach has also helped the country to reduce its reliance on landfills, contributing to more sustainable waste management.
As part of our MPS, we have placed printer toner recycling bins at selected office and branch locations in Singapore to enable our colleagues to dispose of used toners properly for recycling. Since we implemented MPS in April 2018, we have collected about 800 printer toners for recycling.
In China, we implemented a light bulb recycling programme at our headquarters building in Shanghai in August 2017. Since then, we have collected 131 kilogrammes (kg) of fluorescent lightbulbs that would otherwise have been sent for disposal. As all fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, recycling them prevents the release of hazardous mercury vapour into the environment.