Carbon and energy

Finding new ways to do more with less

Carbon footprint

Reducing our impact and using resources efficiently make sound environmental and economic sense. We’re working hard to reduce our carbon footprint, focusing on improving energy efficiency throughout our network, our offices, contact centres and retail stores. We also purchase the majority of our electricity from renewable sources.

In 2015/16 our total carbon footprint from grid electricity use was 378,187 tonnes of CO2 equivalent for our combined operations including fixed line network, mobile networks, retail and offices. Our carbon footprint was calculated using the latest edition of the “Greenhouse Gas Protocol” published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). It is dominated by indirect (scope 2) emissions from electricity consumption which accounts for 74% of the total footprint.  The scope was extended in 2015/16 to include additional scope 3 emissions associated with transmission and distribution of electricity resulting in an increase in our carbon footprint from the previous year.  However, comparing like-for-like emissions we achieved a reduction of 15% or 52,192 tonnes, from the previous year. This is due to factors including site rationalisation, refurbishments and the roll out of energy efficiency programmes such as free cooling.

Saving energy where we can

Network efficiency

Most of the energy we use goes to run the network (83%). We work with suppliers to find the most efficient components for new network sites and base stations, and to replace less efficient equipment across our estate.

For our network to work properly, it must be kept cool. Air conditioning needs a lot of energy so we have been actively deploying alternatives. Direct air cooling of our radio base stations uses small fans to carry heat away from the base station cabin, and requires 90% less energy than traditional air conditioning. We’ve fitted direct air cooling systems to more than 3,000 of our radio base station cabins so far. As we update our remaining base stations, we’ll include new direct air cooling technology.

We are continuing to invest heavily in sub-metering across our largest data centres and technical buildings and are actively monitoring and targeting energy efficiency opportunities, many of which are being implemented and could save us up to 10% of the energy consumed by these sites.

Offices, contact centres and stores

We save energy in our offices and stores by setting lighting, heating and ventilation to run only when buildings are occupied. We use movement sensors in corridors, meeting rooms and washrooms so lights aren’t left on unnecessarily.

We monitor electricity usage across our stores and other buildings using automatic metering and billing records. This activity helps us identify and tackle any sites that have higher than expected consumption; we can take measures such as adjusting heating and lighting controls, replacing inefficient building services and helping our employees to take ownership of energy use.

State of the art contact centre in Stoke-on-Trent

Our UK contact centre in Stoke-on-Trent was designed with the environment in mind. It was built along a north-south axis and features:

  • Roof overhangs for solar shading
  • Full-length window strips to maximise natural light
  • A curved roof for rainwater harvesting
  • Recycled filing cabinets and reused PCs
  • Shared printing facilities to avoid unnecessary paper use

Employee travel

We encourage employees to work flexibly and remotely, and provide them with the communications technology they need to do so – this is at the heart of our Better Ways of Working strategy. Employees can communicate with each other through voice, video, instant messaging or web conferencing simply by clicking their colleague’s name on their PC. We also have state of the art video conferencing facilities to reduce the need for employees to travel for face-to-face meetings.

We encourage cycling by providing regular promotions such as Green Travel week, during which we sponsor employees to cycle to and from work. We also provide ample cycle parking, showers and lockers, and offer free Bike Doctor maintenance sessions on certain dates.

For employees that will be using public transport we offer interest-free loans for season tickets. At our Newbury HQ and Bracknell offices we provide free shuttle buses between the campus, the town, and the train/bus stations.

We encourage car sharing through offering priority parking to car sharers, and through providing a car sharer matching service on a dedicated car-sharing site.