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For SGS, action on climate change should be measurable, credible and target-driven. Our targets are relatively short-term to align with the strategic priorities in the 2014 Plan and make action on climate change a business imperative for today. Our two global CO2 targets are a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions per FTE (full time equivalent employee), and a 10% reduction in CO2 per unit revenue by 2014, against a 2010 baseline. These targets will be met through use of more energy efficient technologies and behavioral change. In addition, we will offset our residual 2013 emissions to become a carbon neutral company.  

Our action plan towards carbon neutrality includes:

  • Reducing energy consumption and emissions wherever possible: 53 projects are now underway to reduce energy across the company
  • Sourcing renewable electricity: we buy renewable energy certificates from hydro-electric power plants in Norway equivalent to the annual electricity consumption in our trend European countries
  • Purchasing credible carbon offsets

In November 2013, SGS was recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project for outstanding performance on emissions reductions and transparent reporting of carbon data, resulting in the company being listed in the Climate Performance Leadership Index. SGS has reported its carbon data to investors through CDP for the past seven years, and this award recognizes our performance on carbon data reporting and carbon emissions reduction. Read more about Risks and Opportunities Associated with Climate Change.


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  • Reducing Our Emissions

    Energy efficiency in buildings (EEB)
    The electricity used by our buildings accounts for almost 62% of our global carbon emissions. As part of our target to reduce CO2 emissions intensity by 10%, there are 21 projects within our Energy Efficiency in Buildings program, spread over 24 affiliates. The Green Building guidelines and Self-assessment checklist applies to all affiliates. See an example of how these have been used in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.

    Two specialists joined the Corporate Sustainability team in 2013, and are working across the affiliates to implement our Green Building guidelines globally and support local programs through energy audits, technical notes, best practice-sharing workshops and providing technical expertise. In 2013, we produced five technical notes on issues such as energy efficient lighting and power factor correction; EEB topics were covered in 10 internal workshops, and best practice sharing conference calls were held with 12 affiliates.

    The EEB program includes both new facilities and the refurbishment of older premises. See some examples of our innovative EEB projects in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.


    SGS is a signatory to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD’s) Energy Efficiency in Buildings Manifesto. Under this manifesto, we have committed to a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions for all offices and for all laboratories we own that are larger than 2,000 m2 by 2014, and a 20% reduction by 2020, against a 2010 baseline. 

    Progress against our EEB targets is tracked via the SGS Energy Rating Tool for Offices and Laboratories, and reported to WBCSD. In 2013 we expanded the coverage of the data collection by 39%.
    Green IT

    Our Green IT policy requires us to procure equipment responsibly, use IT to enable our operations to be greener, optimize the energy efficiency of our data centers and implement responsible disposal practices.

    Virtualization and centralization are used to reduce energy demand in our major data centers. Cold aisles are used to contain the temperature-sensitive equipment in one chilled compartment, instead of air conditioning a whole room. Excess heat extracted from the cold aisle in Geneva is used to warm our offices. Where data space is rented, options for energy efficiency include virtualization and purchasing renewable energy; a leased data center in Geneva uses 100% hydraulic power. 

    In 2014, we will work with our supplier to source laptops which consume less energy. There will also be an audit of major suppliers of data center equipment and software for quality, which will include sustainability criteria. 

    Read more about our Green IT projects in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.

    Green Travel

    We are increasing video, audio and web conferencing to reduce travel costs, cut CO2 emissions, and improve work-life balance. A pilot project in Spain, substituting conferencing for flights, reduced travel costs by an estimated 33% on key routes. In 2014 we will promote the benefits of audio and videoconferencing within the company, starting with the most well-travelled routes.

    Read more about our Green Travel projects in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.

    Green Cars

    We have 12 green car initiatives, covering topics such as eco-driving, purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles and vehicle maintenance. Our target is to reduce average carbon emissions to 130g per kilometer across the fleet by 2014. In 2013, fleet procurement has continued on an affiliate-by-affiliate basis. For example, in Taiwan, we are experimenting with leasing hybrid electric cars, alongside a program of safety and quality driving lessons and promoting car pooling. In the US, we have chosen models with lower fuel consumption to cut carbon emissions and save fuel costs (read more about this in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights). In November, SGS Netherlands purchased its first fully electric car. In 2014, we will be reviewing fleet procurement for the Europe region, incorporating sustainability criteria.

  • Carbon Neutrality

    In 2012 we set ourselves a target to become carbon neutral by 2013. After reducing emissions through energy efficiency initiatives and purchasing renewable energy, we purchase carbon offsets to cover emissions which cannot be practically addressed under current technology in accordance with the PAS 2060:2010 standard. In early 2014, we will purchase carbon credits equivalent to our 2013 emissions. We intend to develop our own carbon offset projects, focusing on schemes which support local communities, in addition to purchasing offsets from the European carbon market. In our 2014 Sustainability Report, we will report fully on the type of offsets we have purchased.