Why this topic matters to UOB
We are committed to conserving environmental resources for the well-being of our stakeholders and future generations. Asia is seeing rapid economic growth and as our business keeps pace with that growth, we also need to ensure that the environmental footprint arising from our extensive operations across the region is sufficiently mitigated. We are cognisant of the direct environmental impact resulting from our network of offices and branches and have initiatives in place to build a more energy- and resource-efficient real estate portfolio and to encourage environmental stewardship at the workplace.
How we approach this topic
Our approach to managing our direct environmental impact centres on the principles of the three Rs, namely to Reduce, to Reuse and to Recycle. We manage our environmental footprint by focusing on energy efficiency, waste management and resource conservation in our operations across the Group.
Our direct impact to the environment results primarily from the consumption of resources including energy, water, paper and other supplies. The waste products resulting from the extraction, production, transport, consumption and disposal of the resources we use include greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater and office waste. As such, we focus our efforts on energy optimisation, water conservation, reducing paper consumption and diverting office waste to recycling options. With operations at our office buildings and branches accounting for the majority of our direct environmental footprint, we have implemented a range of programmes throughout our diverse workspaces to conserve resources and to manage waste effectively.
Globally, approximately one third of energy-related carbon emissions comes from buildings. This is why we are committed to managing our own premises in an efficient manner that meets the best practices recognised by green building standards. Green-certified buildings are also more cost-effective to operate.
To benchmark our progress, we use the Green Mark criteria developed by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for
newly-acquired or retrofitted buildings and office spaces, wherever applicable. The BCA Green Mark is a green building certification scheme that evaluates the environmental performance of buildings and the practices of its occupants. Among other aspects, it takes into account the design, construction and operation of each space. The criteria for a Green Mark rating include energy, water and waste efficiency, environmental protection, indoor environmental quality and green innovations.
We first adopted the BCA Green Mark Existing Non-residential Building Standards in 2013. Since then, we have achieved and maintained
Green Mark GoldPlus certifications for our main office buildings in Singapore – UOB Plaza 1, UOB Plaza 2 and UOB Tower Block (Alexandra Building). In 2019, we achieved Green Mark Platinum certification (excluding data centre facilities) for UOB Phetkasem in Bangkok, Thailand.
Green Mark Platinum Award for UOB Phetkasem Building
Both Tower A and B of the UOB Phetkasem Building in Bangkok, Thailand were awarded the highest rating in 2019 by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA): Green Mark Platinum. The building features:
thermal efficient glass windows;
LED lighting systems;
on-site water treatment plant for irrigation purposes to reduce water usage;
extensive vertical greenery along the east and west facing façade of the car park floors;
occupied spaces designed to maximise the use of natural lighting; and
car parks, chiller plant room, staircases and toilets designed to enable natural air ventilation.
In addition to the BCA Green Mark Award, both towers in Phetkasem also received the Energy Efficiency Building Design Award at the Thailand Building Energy Code (BEC) Awards 2019. The BEC is the benchmark for energy efficiency for buildings regulated by the Ministry of Energy in Thailand.
Tower A met the BEC regulation at the “Good” level while Tower B has met the BEC regulation at the “Excellent” level. The design of the towers has helped UOB save up to 60 per cent in energy compared with the average conventional building’s energy consumption levels. Through a combination of LED lighting and thermal efficient glass panels for windows, which prevent unwanted heating of interiors, the building’s energy-efficient features yield annual savings of about $175,300 for the Bank.
The UOB Phetkasem Building also met the standards set by the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) in 2019 to support a cleaner environment in Bangkok.
Achieve green building certification for all UOB wholly-owned key buildings. 
Electricity use intensity: 14 per cent reduction by 2030, with baseline year of 2018. 
Greenhouse gas emissions intensity (Scope 2 only): 6 per cent reduction by 2030, with baseline year of 2018. 
Our performance in 2019
Four of our 12 wholly-owned buildings are certified with BCA Green Mark.
We achieved a 0.7 per cent overall reduction in electricity use intensity compared to 2018.
Greenhouse gas emissions intensity showed a corresponding decrease of 0.7 per cent over the same period.
Energy efficiency initiatives in 2019
Across our three main buildings in Singapore, our energy efficiency initiatives have yielded reductions in annual energy consumption of approximately 9.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). This is equivalent to cost savings of close to $2.3 million each year. In Bangkok, our BCA Green Mark Platinum certified Phetkasem building yields annual energy savings of more than 137,000 kWh, equivalent to cost savings of about $175,300 each year.
In the commercial buildings where our offices and urban branches are located, the water we consume comes from the main utilities provider in the area. In our key markets, we are mindful that Singapore is classified by the World Resources Institute (WRI) as a country that is under ‘extremely high water stress’, while Indonesia is listed as being under ‘high water stress’. We do our part to conserve water by installing water-efficient fittings in our buildings and encouraging water-saving behaviour among our colleagues. 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 efforts to conserve water.
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 use licensed contractors to ensure that office paper waste is shredded in secure facilities before being recycled.
In Singapore, all general, non-recycled waste is processed in Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incineration plants, where the volume of solid waste is reduced by more than 90 per cent. This approach has also helped land-scarce Singapore to reduce the country’s reliance on landfills, hence contributing to a more sustainable waste management framework.
Key energy efficiency initiatives implemented in UOB Singapore
Estimated annual energy reductions
Estimated annual cost savings
Chiller plant optimisation of 0.65 kW/ton
Variable Speed Drives (VSD) for pumps and
Heat recovery systems for Precision Air Handling Units (PAHUs)
Energy efficient LED lighting for carpark
Carbon monoxide sensors for mechanical ventilation in the carpark
Chiller plant optimisation of 0.63 kW/ton during office hours
Energy efficient LED lighting for common areas
Carbon dioxide sensors for Air Handling
Chiller plant optimisation of 0.59 kW/ton
High Efficiency AHUs with VSDs
Energy efficient LED lighting for common areas
CONTRIBUTION TO THE UN SDGs
As part of our Managed Print Services, we have placed printer toner recycling bins at selected office and branch locations in Singapore to enable our colleagues to dispose used toners properly for recycling. Since we implemented Managed Print Services in April 2018, we have collected more than 3,600 printer toners for recycling.
In Greater China, we implemented a light bulb recycling programme at our headquarters building in Shanghai in August 2017. Since then, we have collected 282 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.
Raising environmental awareness
To raise environmental awareness among the users of our buildings – colleagues, customers, tenants and visitors – we organise a range of programmes and initiatives each year. For example, we participate in the annual global Earth Hour campaign by turning off the lights at our buildings and encourage changes in workplace behaviour among our colleagues and building tenants. Among our tenants in Singapore, we also promote and encourage the adoption of the BCA Green Mark Office Interior certification.
Our environmental performance in 2019
In 2019, our energy consumption across the region decreased by 0.7 per cent compared to the previous year, totaling to 131.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh). Overall energy intensity, measured in kWh per square metre (m2) of floor space, increased slightly by 0.7 per cent. However, excluding data centres, the energy intensity of our office and branch locations improved significantly with a reduction of 3.5 per cent over a one-year period.
Similar to our energy performance, overall greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 2) decreased 0.7 per cent to 71.4 thousand tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) compared to the previous year. Our overall emissions intensity (measured in kg of CO2-equivalent per m2 of floor space) decreased 0.7 per cent. However, excluding data centres, the emissions intensity of our office and branch locations was 2.9 per cent lower than in the previous year.
Our overall water consumption decreased 4.2 per cent, compared with 2018, to 770.2 thousand cubie meters (m3). Water consumption intensity (measured in m3 per m2 of floor space) declined 4.2 per cent in that same period. This indicates that our locations across the region were on average more efficient in their water usage in 2019.
We purchased 1,198 tonnes of office printing paper in 2019, almost one per cent less than in the previous reporting year. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper (including both FSC 100 per cent and FSC Mix) made up 14.7 per cent of our purchased printing paper.
Our recycling of paper and board material increased 2.7 per cent to 453 tonnes, compared with the previous year. Altogether, paper and board recycling made up about 89 per cent of overall recycling, primarily because the vast majority of our waste paper is recycled after the shredding process.
The amount of waste sent for disposal remained relatively steady. In 2019, we generated 1,373 tonnes of unrecycled waste. About 54 per cent of that waste was processed at WTE incineration plants. Overall, waste disposal intensity (measured in kg of waste per m2 of floor space) remained relatively constant. However, total recycling increased 3.4 per cent to a total of 510 tonnes.
Go to pages 123-124 of this report for the full set of our environmental performance figures.
Methodology and adjustments
The consumption and waste data with regard to UOB’s business operations is based on invoices or data obtained from our providers. For greenhouse gas conversion factors, we rely on sources such as local environment agencies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Our Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions are derived in accordance with the most recent directives of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, developed by the WRI and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) are sourced from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol guidelines.
Scope 2 emissions are the main component of our emissions profile. Our Scope 2 emissions, in turn, result primarily from our purchase of grid electricity. For this report, all Scope 2 emissions are calculated based on the location-based method as currently we do not have any contractual instruments for separate emissions data under the market-based method. We also report Scope 3 emissions derived from air travel undertaken by employees for business purposes. At present, Scope 1 emissions from the use of vehicular fuels and stationary combustion fuels, which comprise a comparatively insignificant proportion of our overall energy consumption and emissions, are excluded from reporting.
As the vast majority of our real estate is in Asia, our current data includes only locations in Singapore, where we are headquartered, and our four largest subsidiaries – Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Greater China. Unless otherwise stated, reported figures include our office locations, branch locations and data centres. Our methodology excludes UOB-owned spaces that are leased to tenants, known as downstream leased assets, from Scope 2 accounting.
Further, when the Bank acquires any property with greenhouse gas emissions which if counted, would alter the country baseline by more than one per cent, we now include the full-year emissions of that property back to the year in which it came into existence or first came into operation. Similarly, when the Bank divests any property with greenhouse gas emissions which if discounted, would alter the country baseline by more than one per cent, we now deduct the full-year emissions of that property back to the year in which it first came into existence or operation. This is done in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard and to maintain consistency over time.
Case Study: UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk Sustainable Event Management
In support of environmental sustainability, we ensure our events are run conscientiously through sustainable procurement, employee engagement and partnerships with government agencies and social enterprises. We also embed sustainable event management practices in our community programmes. For example, in 2019 we stepped up on our ‘Go Green’ efforts for the annual UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk, our flagship regional volunteer and fundraising event, to reduce the environmental impact while doing good for the community.
Our ‘Go Green’ initiatives for the event, held across seven markets in Asia on the same day in July 2019, included:
digitalising our processes to cut down on printed materials, saving more than 130 kg of paper;
eliminating single-use plastics in all eco-friendly race packs across the region, with a reduction of more than 100 kg of plastics used in Singapore;
replacing more than 20,000 plastic cups with biodegradable corn starch cups and encouraging all participants to bring their own water bottles on the event day;
installing 10 sets of recycling bins across the event site to encourage recycling of all plastic water bottles, metal cans and general waste;
collecting more than 30 kg of banana peels for composting into organic fertilisers; and
donating more than 150 bento sets to Food Bank Singapore to reduce food waste.
Through our collective efforts to reduce, to reuse and to recycle, the 2019 UOB Heartbeat Run/Walk was awarded the Eco-Events Certification by the Singapore Environment Council.
The event is the first charity run in Singapore to achieve this accolade and the fourth in Singapore to obtain this certification since its inception in 2019.
We will continue to undertake eco-friendly initiatives that will positively impact the environment and our communities.