Sustainable Practices Ensure SurvivalWed, 02/24/2016 - 14:07
“HSBC has been around for 150 years, and we believe that if we want to be around for another 150 years, we need to be sustainable.” The words of Miguel Ángel Laporta, Director of Corporate Sustainability for México and Latin America at HSBC, highlight the importance of sustainable practices in the bank’s corporate culture and daily activities. For HSBC, sustainability means taking care of its operations before looking after its investments. In this sense, the bank has implemented a campaign aimed at reducing 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent per year for each employee. “In Mexico, our employee- created CO2 emissions equate to 3.2 tonnes per year, so by 2020 we have to reduce this number to 2.2 tonnes. Accomplishing this goal is challenging because there are more than 17,000 HSBC employees in Mexico,” explains Laporta, adding that this model is being implemented in each country in which the bank operates.
HSBC is also keen on adopting sustainable models for its assets, like the HSBC tower, which became the first double- LEED certified building in Mexico. It was first certified upon its construction in 2008, and then it was awarded another certificate for operations and maintenance in 2013. The bank’s penchant for sustainable buildings was taken a step further a year ago, when HSBC partnered up with the Green Building Council to certify 25 branches. “All of our branches are built under the same protocols and using similar prototypes, which allowed us to obtain LEED certification for the 25 branches. No other bank in Mexico has carried out a similar program,” Laporta boasts.
In order to reduce its carbon footprint, HSBC implements various initiatives, such as carrying out energy consumption awareness campaigns with its employees or adopting a paperless scheme. According to Laporta, several reports show that these initiatives have helped reduce the bank’s energy use. In spite of this success, HSBC will not sit on its laurels and will strive to become even more energy efficient. “When comparing our energy consumption with other countries like Brazil, we can see that our consumption is similar in terms of kilowatts. However, the CO2 emissions in Mexico are higher because of fossil fuels used in electricity generation,” Laporta explains, adding
that HSBC has been analyzing the possibility of signing a PPA to become an off-taker of renewable energy. “HSBC has an important alliance with KPMG, which is helping us make this deal, and we are evaluating how much of our energy consumption will come from clean sources.”
Becoming an off-taker would make sense, considering HSBC’s participation in the energy sector. “It is important for HSBC to motivate its customers to participate in climate business, which consists of economic activity that has a positive impact on the environment,” Laporta explains. In 2014, HSBC collaborated with NAFINSA in the creation of the Impulso Energético fund, which is focused on giving credits to CFE and PEMEX suppliers. There is a significant market surrounding the parastatal companies, as SMEs are seeking credits so that they can grow and improve their service offering. So far the fund has been successful, as evidenced by the fact that HSBC has already distributed 60% of the resources.
Laporta says the bank is pleased to see an increase in demand for financing in the solar energy segment, and HSBC is analyzing potential new projects. According to him, the financial sector’s challenge lies in the risk analysis of these projects, which should vary given the project’s duration and capital requirements. “Normally, banks, including HSBC, do not provide credits to projects lasting longer than seven years, and energy projects last between 15-25 years.” HSBC has created specialized areas to analyze these projects. Once a project is approved in Mexico, a group of experts based in London analyze the project. Sometimes the bank provides consultancy services to our clients so that they can obtain certifications, making it easier for them to obtain a credit. It is worth saying that the bank is aligned with the Equator Principles, so it analyzes every project with investments of over US$10 million. In addition to financial indicators, HSBC looks at elements such as the social and environmental impact of these projects within the areas where they are to be implemented. “In fact, we have rejected significant projects because of their negative environmental and social impact,” Laporta comments.