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Environment

At St.George we're committed to reducing the environmental footprint of our operations and helping our staff reduce theirs.

Greener Dragon loans

We encourage staff to reduce their own carbon footprint by taking advantage of interest free loans of up to $4,000 each year, which can be used for purchases such as solar hot water systems and energy efficient appliances.

Reducing paper

The average Australian worker uses roughly 10,000 sheets of paper a year. That’s the equivalent of pulping one full-grown tree. What’s more, nearly nine out of every ten sheets of office paper used in Australia go directly to landfill.

Paper represents one of St.George’s largest environmental impacts. That’s why we make sure the paper we buy comes from forests that are managed sustainably and from mills that have an industry-recognised accreditation such as ISO 14001. Where possible, we buy Australian-made paper. And we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce how much we use.

For instance we’ve given customers the opportunity to choose electronic over paper bank statements. Introducing eStatements in 2009/2010 has been part of our agenda to make it easier for our customers to do business – and a good example of how we’re embedding sustainability into our operations. Our aim is to save over 430 tonnes of paper in the next five years – and reduce our CO2 emissions by 1,090 tonnes. As of July 2010, we had 240,000 customer and staff accounts converted to eStatements.

Reducing energy

Lighting accounts for more than 20% of greenhouse emissions from commercial buildings. This figure could be reduced by as much as 70% through simple measures. That’s why we’ve introduced a range of energy saving initiatives such as lighting assessments, recommissioning and/or repairing existing lighting controls and installing timer delay switches.

St.George and BankSA branches turn off non-essential lights every night. We’ve installed automatic lighting control systems across our premises at 33-35 Pitt, 182 George and 316 George St, Sydney. The system allows the lights on each floor to be programmed according to business hours for that floor. We've also installed automated switching to control the lighting of our sky signs on our buildings at Kogarah, 182 George Street and Chifley Square in Sydney so that the signage is only illuminated at night. These switches are controlled by the sun: the signage switches on at dusk and turns off at dawn.

Work is under way on a number of other projects to further reduce our energy use.

Changing staff behaviour: On a weight-for-weight basis, computers are more environmentally damaging than cars. By leaving a computer on all day, every day for a year, you use nearly 1,000 kilowatts of electricity and contribute over one tonne of carbon to the atmosphere.

Mindful of this, we’ve installed screen savers on all our computers.

Participating in Earth Hour

For 60 minutes at 8.30pm local time on one day of the year St.George participates in Earth Hour. This is a global movement that aims to reach one billion people in 1,000 cities around the world and get them to act on climate change. Last year St.George switched off lights at 30 sites during Earth Hour. Key branches in capital cities participated, with St.George and BankSA turning off on-floor lights and sky signage in all corporate offices across Australia. In Sydney, 182 George Street was completely dark apart from essential security lighting. At all other corporate offices, all occupied floor lights were turned off. For more information visit www.earthhour.org.

Reducing water use

St.George has undertaken a range of initiatives to improve water efficiencies, from installing low-flow shower heads and aerators on taps to investigating the possibility of using rainwater tanks to supply water to the atrium in Kogarah. We’re members of Sydney Water’s Every Drop Counts initiative and continue to look for further ways to reduce our building water consumption.

Recycling and waste

We are rolling out a recycling and integrated waste management program at nine of the larger St.George and BankSA office sites. Phase one of the new program has already been introduced to St.George’s Sydney city buildings, 182 and 316 George Street and 33-35 Pitt Street.

Paper

Waste office paper is deposited in recycling boxes, supplied to all our staff through our stationery ordering system. They can also buy reusable coffee cups instead of disposable cups that often can't be recycled, at all St.George cafeterias across the country.

Ink cartridges and toners

We’re a member of the Cartridges 4 PlanetArk program. Our staff deposit used ink cartridges and toners in specially marked Cartridges 4 PlanetArk recycling boxes located near printers and photocopiers. 

Tips for home

Helping the environment starts at home. There are many easy everyday actions you can do to reduce your environmental footprint.

Case study

To make a difference in their environment, our Western Region’s Corporate and Business Bank team has made a concerted effort to change the way they operate.

The region, incorporating Phillip Street, Parramatta, and Victoria Street, Wetherill Park, has been a member of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water's 'Sustainability Advantage' program since 2008. Upon joining the program, a 'Green Team' of volunteers was established to formulate a sustainability strategy, set targets, and implement initiatives.

The team’s achievements have been notable. On World Environmental Day (3 June 2010) they were awarded a Bronze Partner accreditation in the NSW Sustainability Advantage Program. This recognises organisations that can demonstrate commitment to business sustainability. Their application detailed achievements to date against criteria set by the department.

In the 12 months to June 2009, the team decreased their electricity consumption by 8.3%. And it’s still falling.

Also on the decrease is their paper usage. A thorough investigation resulted in the cancelling of unused daily reports, saving five reams of paper every week. In total the Western Region has now saved a ream of paper a day, which equates to 260 reams a year. In monetary terms that’s an annual saving of over $1,100, and that’s not counting the savings in toner and electricity.