The GPT Group is an active owner and manager of a diversified portfolio of high quality Australian retail, office and logistics property assets. Together with the Group’s Funds Management platform, assets under management total over $18 billion. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) since 1971, GPT is today one of the top 50 listed stocks on the ASX by market capitalisation.
The GPT Group believes that looking after the environment to meet the needs of current and future generations is essential to ongoing business success. The Group, and its employees, recognises the need to continue to reduce environmental impacts to a point where resources are sustainably used and emissions are at or below levels that can be reabsorbed without harm. GPT experiences strong employee engagement as a result of our carbon neutrality and we are better able to demonstrate to investors and the community our willingness to transition to a carbon neutral economy.
The business case for obtaining carbon neutral certification
GPT’s Climate Change and Energy Policy sets a target of zero emissions. To meet this target, we needed to explore the boundaries, measurement techniques and communication methods that would support the achievement of this important goal.
Our initial carbon neutral certification relates to the management offices where over 500 GPT staff work. Carbon neutral certification demonstrates to our employees GPT’s commitment to reducing emissions. Internal surveys show that 95 per cent of our employees think GPT should be taking deliberate action to reduce emissions. Most of them suggest that GPT should be taking urgent action, demonstrating community leadership on this issue.
The strategy also allows GPT to align with other important stakeholders. Investors are increasingly applying sustainability filters to select businesses that are effective in the management of environmental and social issues. A number of GPT’s tenants, our customers, are already certified as carbon neutral.
Achieving carbon neutrality
In GPT’s base reporting year of 2011, we had a total carbon footprint of 3,843 t CO2-e across all facilities under our operational control. The emissions boundary includes:
• Office energy use
• Base building energy use (prorated to tenancy size)
• Employee commute
• Business air travel
• Other scope 3 emissions
The application of emissions reduction activities has seen GPT reduce the emissions of the property portfolio by 57 per cent since 2005, with substantial savings flowing to the business and our customers.
Emissions have been avoided by moving to paperless offices which has seen the introduction of electronic filing systems that have reduced paper use. GPT has also facilitated better office to office communications, reducing the need for travel and installed energy efficient lighting to ensure lights are only on when required. We have increased our use of renewable energy on GPT properties and introduced innovative waste programs that are focussed on closing the materials loop, avoiding landfill and recycling materials. By working with our energy supply chain we were able to ensure that at least 30 per cent of electricity is powered by GreenPower across GPT managed assets.
Remaining emissions are offset through purchasing credits from projects that support renewable energy such as wind power projects.
Benefits and outcomes of carbon neutral certification
GPT has been able to demonstrate affirmative action to employees, investors and the community by reducing carbon emissions and exploring what it will take to transition to a carbon neutral economy.
Through carbon neutral accreditation, we’ve learned more about the activities that comprise our carbon footprint and how we might avoid or manage them.
Most importantly, GPT knows that the claim of carbon neutrality is supported through adherence to a standard and methodology supported by the Australian Government.
Challenges and learnings
One of the main challenges for businesses is to understand the emissions boundary and emissions factors. GPT worked with Pangolin and Associates to develop our annual carbon inventory. In addition to engaging with Pangolin, GPT has its carbon footprint audited biennially by Ernst & Young (EY). EY provides assurance over the inventory, giving the whole organisation confidence that the collected information and carbon factors used are appropriate to our business and in accordance with the Standard and the certification requirements.
By working with our internal team and our consultants, GPT is able to effectively manage our carbon neutrality under NCOS and promote our carbon neutral story to employees, investors and the community.
“As we head towards a carbon neutral economy it’s important that there are reliable, consistent and useful standards and guides. The Carbon Neutral Program Guidelines and the National Carbon Offset Standard support an important program that allows market leaders to engage with, understand, account for and claim carbon neutral status.”
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