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Reducing our CO2 emissions

Office energy efficiency

The energy we use in our buildings accounts for 49% of our emissions. In early 2007 WPP completed detailed energy reviews of three buildings in the UK (see case study). These studies monitored sources of energy use and identified opportunities for reductions. We installed meters in selected parts of these buildings (eg the server room) to measure energy use in those areas. This enabled us to identify where we are using the most energy and to eliminate waste.

Using this initial energy review as a model, we conducted eight energy audits in properties in three regions globally: two in Europe, three in Asia Pacific and three in the Americas.

We will use the results of these studies to make recommendations to all of our operating companies on how to achieve the most significant and cost-effective energy reductions.

Some of our companies operate accredited environmental management systems, for example BDGworkfutures has achieved certification to international standard ISO14001.

We estimate that we can reduce our CO2 emissions by 22,000 tonnes quickly and with no capital cost by:

  • Educating employees to switch off all electrical equipment at the end of the day.
  • Ensuring all lights are off at night.
  • Matching heating and cooling accurately with occupancy hours.
  • Reducing cooling by one degree in summer and heating by one degree in winter.

In the medium term we can save an estimated 36,000 tonnes of CO2 by upgrading energy-savings systems during refurbishment or when buying new properties. Our pilot projects will help us determine the most efficient and cost-effective ways of achieving these savings. These may include:

  • Fitting timer switches to ensure lights are not left on overnight.
  • Adding movement and daylight sensors to ensure lights are only on when needed.
  • Installing energy-efficient lamps.
  • Fitting flow restrictors to hot water taps.
  • Fitting power management controls to vending machines and refrigerators.
  • Improving air-conditioning controls.
  • Installing building management systems that monitor and control ventilation and lighting.
  • Applying green building design standards.

Sustainable IT

WPP’s personal and network IT equipment accounts for a large proportion of our energy use. We aim to cut the energy used by our computers by up to 30%. We have already begun introducing requirements to improve the energy efficiency of our IT equipment. For example:

  • All new computers must comply with our new power consumption standards for desktops, laptops and servers. Only approved devices can be purchased.
  • Power management features must be enabled on all computers. For instance screens are set to sleep after five minutes and screen savers are disabled. PCs are set to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity and hibernate after 60 minutes of sleep.

We are also encouraging WPP companies to:

  • Set printer default settings to double sided and black and white.
  • Establish a ‘turn-off’ culture for all ICT equipment including computer equipment, projectors, TV screens and set-top boxes.
  • Avoid using stand-by.
  • Switch off chargers when not in use.

In the next two to three years we aim to achieve significant savings by reducing numbers of servers from over 7,500 to around 3,000. We will also improve the energy efficiency of data centres and server rooms.


Employee business air travel has a significant climate impact. We aim to provide alternatives to make it easier for people to meet with clients and colleagues without having to fly. Video conferencing facilities are now available at most of our major offices.

We have previously collected data on air travel emissions from our central travel centre. In 2007 we asked our operating companies to report this data and in future we will encourage companies to set their own reduction targets. We are encouraging operating companies to publish their business travel carbon footprint internally to raise awareness among their employees.

We are also looking at how we can make it easier to work from home to help reduce the impact of our people travelling to the office.


All our people can help save energy through simple steps like making sure computers and screens are switched off overnight. We need to raise internal awareness of WPP’s policy and encourage our employees to adopt low-carbon behaviour.

During 2007, we produced information on our climate change strategy which has been distributed internally, to key clients and other stakeholders.

It describes the thinking behind our climate strategy and contains useful tips on what the reader can do to help, both at work and in the home. It is also available to employees on our intranet.

Buying renewable energy

We purchase renewable energy where we can and regularly review energy sourcing across all markets to identify new opportunities. During 2007 major green energy contracts were agreed in the UK and Italy providing approximately 70% of the total WPP electricity consumption in both countries. In November 2007, Ogilvy New York, one of WPP’s largest offices, took a green electricity contract for 12 months. Together our renewable electricity will save approximately 20,600 tonnes of CO2(8% of the Group total) each year.

WPP parent company office and 13 of our companies in the UK have been supplied with green electricity (from biomass, wind and hydroelectric) since 2006.

Carbon offset

We are reducing our CO2emissions as much as possible and offsetting the rest. This means paying someone else to reduce their carbon emissions by an amount equal to our own footprint which will save one tonne of CO2elsewhere in the world for every tonne that WPP creates.

Our operating companies meet the cost of offsetting their emissions. This provides an incentive to cut their climate impact as the more they reduce their emissions the less they will have to pay in offset costs.

We work with the CarbonNeutral Company, an offset provider, to source sufficient carbon offset agreements to neutralise the Group’s footprint. All carbon offset projects supported by WPP are renewable energy projects (eg wind, hydro and solar).

We do not support forestry offset. We currently fund seven projects, including wind farm and hydroelectric projects in China, and wind and solar generation in India.

One of these is the Longwangtan Hydro Power Project located in the relatively undeveloped province of Guizhou, China. The hydro power facility has a total capacity of 15MW and supplies electricity to the southern power grid. This helps to meet growing energy demand in the region without the need to increase power generation from fossil-fuel sources. The development of renewable energy supplies in China brings local as well as global benefit. The project provides jobs and helps stabilise the supply of electricity on the local grid, benefiting local people and their businesses.