We are gradually withdrawing from financing coal-based industries. We also meet environmental and social standards in terms of our lending activities: we take environmental risks into account when evaluating risk and in our risk management processes. By implementing internal company measures we save energy and reduce our own emissions.
Helaba endorses the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement, whose aim is to limit the Earth’s warming to significantly below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. On this basis, Germany intends to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990. We make a contribution to achieving this goal in the scope of our business activities by, for example, prioritising the financing of carbon-neutral technologies.
As a credit institution, Helaba produces fewer emissions than manufacturing companies. The main sources of our emissions include the utilisation of office buildings, business travel and the electricity consumption of our IT systems. In 2017, we were directly and indirectly responsible for 11.2 kilotons of CO2 emissions (2016: 11.1 kilotons). The majority of these emissions was related to the consumption of electrical and heating energy (about 65 percent). About 32 percent of emissions stemmed from business trips by train, car and aeroplane as well as from the operation of our IT systems. These are the areas in which we are taking action to reduce our direct emissions.
As a financial service provider, we consider the primary means by which we can have an impact on protecting the climate to be in the financing of energy-efficient technologies and renewable energies. Whether photovoltaic, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal energy or the use of biomass, we have extensive and fully up-to-date specialist knowledge in all of these fields. In the financing of technical facilities and processes, we advocate the best available technology and drive the expansion of renewable energies even further ahead. Helaba offers project finance for renewable energies since 1997. The business volume for renewable energy projects already surpasses our engagement in conventional forms of energy generation.
We have introduced a standardised process for granting loans with an environmental background in which environmental risks form a component of the risk assessment and risk management processes. In this way, we take responsibility in our lending activities and ensure that minimum environmental and climate standards are adhered to. You can find out more about this in our sector-specific guidelines (Business activities).
In order to strengthen financing activities of Sparkassen in this segment even further, lending specialists focus on supporting projects by medium-sized companies and the public sector. A nationwide Competence Centre provides advice, structuring and financing solutions and also includes the option of using public development subsidies. In this way, Sparkassen makes a contribution towards ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises also support the energy transition.
Helaba is active in a number of ways in the field of energy efficient buildings and makes a practical contribution to achieving Germany’s climate goals.
As a major residential property company, GWH Immobilien Holding GmbH pays strict attention to sustainability in the new construction, refurbishment and operation of its approximately 50,000 apartments. Home trends such as smart homes and supporting the transition to renewable energy are at the focus of its activities. For its existing property portfolio, it invests in insulation, energy-efficient window replacement and energy-saving heating technology. With investments of around EUR 68 million in 2018 (previous year: 59 million) for modernisation and maintenance GWH could reduce CO2 emissions of its portfolio by about 1.300 tonnes (previous year: 1400tonnes).
OFB Projektentwicklung GmbH fulfils both ecological as well as sociocultural requirements in the project development and project management of new construction projects thanks to a catalogue of planning, building and operating criteria. The majority of OFB’s projects significantly exceeds the requirements of the German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV).
In future, almost all projects are expected to be built and equipped in accordance with the sustainability criteria of the Ger-man Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED, according to the US Green Building Council, USGBC). OFB is a member of both DGNB and USGBC. The possibility for sustainability certification according to their standards (DGNB and USGBC) is determined as early as during the acquisition phase of a new project.
As the development bank of the State of Hesse, Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank) has a particular obligation to act in a socially responsible way. For this reason, issues of sustainability, such as energy efficiency, conserving resources and protecting the environment as well as the long-term social and economic development of the State of Hesse, play a key role in WIBank’s promotional loan activities.
Private owner-occupiers are able to take advantage of the subsidised Hesse building loan, for example when building a passive house. Innovative start-ups and companies have the possibility to top up their equity using investment capital. In this way, they are able to realise investments with the aim of conserving resources, protecting the environment, reducing CO2 emissions and tackling climate change.
Using subsidies, WIBank enables small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in reducing their CO2 emissions. Moreover, it supports local authorities with the goal of equipping new public buildings with particularly high energy efficiency standards.
The financing of energy efficient building renovation work is a central business field for Landesbausparkasse (LBS) Hessen-Thüringen. One example is the product LBS-Energiekredit, which enables owners of houses and apartments to carry out energy-efficient renovation work.
In order to protect our basic natural resources, Helaba organises its business activities in such a way as to limit the use of resources as much as possible and takes into account sustainability standards in its operational processes. Up to now, we have managed our resources based on individual measures that have been initiated and managed independently by each individual unit in the Group. Since 2017 we systematically collect data on the operational ecology of our activities across the entire Group in a centrally controlled process, in order to measure the most significant levels of consumption. In the scope of this process, we included all locations with more than twenty employees. Therefore, the environmental data collected cover around 80 percent of the entire workforce and more than 95 percent of our office locations worldwide.
The use of Helaba’s office buildings has the largest influence on the amount of resources that the bank consumes. Our goal is to continually reduce the consumption of resources at all our locations.
Helaba’s main building, the MAIN TOWER, is a low-energy building with 56 floors. Since 2011 is has been certified accord-ing to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as an environmentally-friendly, resource-saving and sustainable building. In 2016, we achieved LEED Platinum status – the best possible assessment - by imple-menting specific measures to increase the efficient use of resources. The usable area of 62,000 square metres is heated using the building’s own micro combined heat and power (CHP) unit. In additions, the building has its own geothermal heating system. In order to monitor the efficiency of our energy management, we regularly collect and evaluate our energy consumption data.
Frankfurter Sparkasse has been compiling environmental data since 1996 and published it in a validated environmental statement until 2015. In 2016, the Sparkasse launched a shakeup of its existing environmental management system. Until the bank’s Board of Managing Directors has taken a final policy decision in this regard, certification according to the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) has been suspended. Frankfurter Sparkasse adheres to the environmental stand-ards it had previously achieved. Relevant processes have been put in place and will continue to be applied regardless of a voluntary certification. Therefore, in case of possible re-certification, the bank will be able to ensure almost seamless conti-nuity from existing standards (EMAS, ISO 14001).
Apart from our emissions, our business activities only have little impact on the environment. We mainly use water in toilets and washrooms and in the canteens.
In addition to waste paper, the main source of waste is equivalent to household refuse. In order to reduce our paper con-sumption, we are increasing awareness among our employees of the need to work in a resource-saving way, e.g. when printing documents. Helaba has almost completely switched to using environmentally-friendly paper for its internal and ex-ternal correspondence, which is certified by recognised sustainability labels. At the moment, we are conducting an evaluation of our paper consumption across the entire Group and examining the possibility of switching to certified recycled paper for all internal correspondence.
Since Helaba is a credit institution, its IT infrastructure is a vitally important component of its activities. For this reason, we are paying closer attention to sustainability criteria when selecting IT suppliers. In the scope of a sustainable supplier management system, we have developed a code of conduct for suppliers, which includes mandatory requirements such as adherence to environmental standards, safety and ethical values. We give priority to working with suppliers who have an environmental management system in line with accepted industry standards and who make use of renewable energy throughout their entire value-added processes.
The SparkassenEinkaufsGesellschaft (SEG), the central procurement organisation of German Sparkassen, applies a similar code of conduct. We purchase our consumables and stationery from SEG. These suppliers already conform to the relevant minimum standards.