Absa Bank is accelerating its efforts in reducing the carbon footprint of its operations and pursuing green certification in its pursuit of being a net-zero carbon emitter by 2040.

This is by focusing on among others green energy after the lender’s assessment found that fuel powering its vehicles and generators as well as generation of electricity it buys, were the biggest polluters.

According to Absa Bank Kenya’s latest sustainability report, “Our company cars and fuel generator consumption emitted 1.21 tones CO2e” which is in addition to, “1.24 tones CO2e emitted during the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed.”

This is 92.1% of carbon emitted from the lender’s operations in its assessment for 2022. The remaining 7.8% (0.21 tones CO2e) of the carbon footprint is from water supply, paper and business travel.

“Absa has been tracking our carbon footprint for the past four years. The Bank has seen a decline of total CO2 equivalent emissions year on year. Initial interventions and process optimizations resulted in an initial 26% reduction in emissions from 2019 to 2020. An additional 3% reduction has been achieved from 2020 to 2022,” says the sustainability report.

Such efforts are already being noticed and recognized by both local and international institutions. Locally, Absa Bank Kenya was in November 2023 crowned the best Bank in Sustainable Finance in Kenya by Kenya Bankers Association Sustainable Finance Catalyst Awards.

In addition, the bank received the International Finance Corporation’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) global Certification in 2022 after integrating green building technologies in accordance with global standards.

This was after the lender reinstalled environmentally friendly energy and water systems at five branches namely; WestEnd, Bishopgate, Queensway and Nkrumah (in Nairobi) as well as Mombasa and Kisii. “We plan to roll out this to all our Absa buildings,” says Absa Bank Kenya says on its website.

The retrofitted energy efficiency installation comprised LED lights, automatic motion and occupancy sensors, solar photovoltaics, smart meters and photoelectric sensors for security lights.

Further, the lender is increasingly choosing the option of utilizing natural ventilation in its business premises as well as having reflective film on windows to reduce solar heat gain. “Installation of a 60Kw solar photovoltaics plant at the Kisii Branch helped offset 23% of power,” Absa Bank Kenya says.

The water efficiency reinstallations comprised low flow taps, as well as water efficient urinals using less than two liters per flush and bottle-less eco-friendly drinking water dispensers.

“After noting that one of the key resources consumed in all buildings is water, we chose to replace existing water dispensers with water purification units that are eco-friendly. These units eliminate the storage and removal of plastic bottles from our workspace. The elimination of the collection and delivery of large plastic water bottles furthermore reduces our business’s carbon footprint,” says Absa Bank Kenya in its 2022 Sustainability Report.

The report indicates that the lender’s water cost reduction stood at Kshs 4.6 million in 2022 supported by the continued use of tap water purification technology.

“These investments have reduced Absa’s energy and water costs by up to 30% and 33% respectively, saving the bank up to Ksh. 25 million per year,” the lender says.

In 2020, Absa Bank Kenya became the first financial institution to join the Kenya Green Building Society (KGBS), a non-state actor seeking to lead transformation of the built environment in Kenya towards environmentally sustainable buildings, promoting a healthy and efficient built environment to achieve environmentally, socially and economically progressive built environments.

The bank is also a signatory to Principles for Responsible Banking at a group level and signed up to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) principles through the Global Compact Kenya Network locally.