The battle has commenced

It has never been clearer that one of the most urgent issues facing our generation is the impact of climate change.

It has never been clearer that one of the most urgent issues facing our generation is the impact of climate change. Perhaps belatedly, this is now starting to get the attention that it requires and at Direct Line Group, we are aware that vital action is needed to address the challenges it poses. We understand that we have a responsibility to do all we can and are determined to make our own contribution to tackling this pressing issue.

We have invested in several initiatives to reduce our environmental impact, many of which are designed to help us significantly reduce our CO2 emissions. We set ourselves the ambitious target to reduce our Group wide emissions by 57% on a like for like basis by 2020 This effectively requires us to remove a third of the emissions from our utilities and buildings – and with 38 sites across the country, this is no mean feat. 



Reduction in Group-wide energy consumption on a like-for-like basis by 2020

One of the ways we are working to achieve this is through the introduction of ‘travel free weeks’, which have been very successful at reducing carbon emissions from business travel. We now have one ‘travel free’ week each quarter and estimate a CO2 reduction of 167,332 emissions.

But our environmental initiatives don’t stop with reducing our CO2 emissions. We have also diverted 100% of office waste from landfill - what can’t be recycled is burned to produce electricity; and in 2014 made a commitment to source 100% of our electricity from renewable sources. This a commitment we have met and are determined to maintain, and all our offices and autocentres are now powered from renewable energy sources.


Reduction in Group-wide emissions on a like-for-like basis by 2020

Our new Bristol office has provided us with a great opportunity to consolidate a whole host of environmental sustainability measures and provides a useful case study to help us understand what can be translated over to other, existing sites. When we initiated the refurbishment of the building, we ensured that all our supplier contracts included a commitment to undertake as green an operation as possible; we ensured that sustainable materials were used, and environmental considerations were central to the design. For example, we are utilising the innovative “free cooling” concept in how we manage the air temperature of the site.

We are able to provide a comfortable working environment by optimising the use of our chillers, air handling units and boilers and by using the exiting cool air outside, as well as warmth from body heat. We are still working on how we can further maximise the opportunities these systems offer but have already seen a 25% reduction in our gas use in Bristol and are implementing similar strategies in our Bromley and Leeds Wharf offices.

The Bristol office refurbishment has also introduced greater connectivity, giving colleagues more opportunities to hot desk and work from home. Indeed, we are changing working practices across the whole Group and have consolidated office floor spaces during low occupancy hours to ensure we run building equipment and lighting efficiently. In addition to Bristol, we have implemented these strategies in Bromley, Glasgow, Ipswich and Leeds Wharf to make smart use of the Building Energy Management system.

In March this year, we introduced the use of Vegware products to our Bristol site, as a plastic-free catering solution. Products such as food containers, drink cups and cutlery are made from plant-based materials which are then fully compostable after use; they are collected as food waste and taken to a local farm in Gloucestershire for composting. It has been a hugely successful initiative, which our Bristol colleagues have embraced wholeheartedly, and plastic use is now minimal across the site. However, we aren’t stopping here. We’ve rolled Vegware out to our Glasgow office and are aiming for our Bristol site to become completely plastic free in the near future.

Of course, in existing sites our challenges are harder. Older buildings are more difficult to optimise than new ones. But we are determined that we will make significant changes to ensure that all sites are as environmentally responsible as possible. A key part of this is replacing older equipment – including chillers, boilers, lighting, pumps and lifts - and we are delivering on our planned investment programme to continually replace older assets with new energy efficient ones across our buildings.

We are also currently undertaking a feasibility study of energy reduction initiatives at two of our Auto Services buildings in Edinburgh and Manchester. As part of these measures, we are looking at power factor correction, LED lighting, energy efficient compressors and Building Energy Management systems with smart controls.
We know we have a long journey ahead but are proud of the changes that we have already made. Our Bristol office is a great example of what can be done, if the commitment and determination are there. And when it comes to tackling climate change, we are not short of either.

To find out more about the impacts on climate change click here