Our environmental and social impact

Given that the financial services industry generally has a low direct impact on the environment, our greatest opportunity for managing environmental risk lies in mitigating the potential impacts related to our financing activities. We are proactive in our approach to environmental and social risk management and go beyond minimum compliance.

Lending responsibly

Our approach is described under environmental and social risk assessment. During 2015, we closed nine Equator Principle deals. Read more

Environmental products and services

Clean energy and energy efficiency

In South Africa, we remain active in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme, which is aimed at securing a total of 17 800 megawatts of renewable energy for South Africa by 2030. Local manufacturing requirements are incorporated into the construction and operation of REIPPP projects, creating opportunities for job and wealth creation. Project deals also stipulate inclusion of local communities as equity participants, funded by local development finance institutions.

We have a R20 billion funding support agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC) for renewable energy projects in South Africa. Under the agreement, ICBC will co-lend into renewable energy projects with Standard Bank, where we are mandated as the lead arranger, through to 2025.

Domestic asset managers are keen to invest in such projects. ICBC’s involvement will help to reduce liquidity and capital pressure and further diversify our funding sources.

The various data and discussions in this section refer to SBSA only, unless otherwise specified. We continue to invest in our people and systems to enhance data collection and analysis for our operations outside South Africa, with respect to our environmental and social impacts.


Our direct impact

Given the large number of premises we occupy and manage, our investment in resource efficiency projects is making a positive difference to our direct impact.

Resource consumption and emissions

We have systems in place to track and manage our direct impact on the environment in terms of energy, water, carbon emissions and waste and processes are in place to reduce our environmental footprint.

We continue to improve the integrity of our data for all environmental indicators, with energy being our primary focus. For example, in 2014, we refined our carbon footprint calculation methodology and in 2015, made progress in improving the scope and accuracy of our water consumption in South Africa. A total of 44 sites are now being metered – up from 15 in 2014.


Managing and reducing our energy consumption reduces our direct environmental impact and lowers operational costs. Actively managing our energy consumption also mitigates the impact of rising electricity costs, pending carbon tax costs and energy supply concerns. Our three biggest energy consumers in our facilities are heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems; lighting and information technology (IT).

We participated in the Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) project, which aims to assist South African companies with implementation of energy management strategies with achievable targets. Through this project, we developed an Energy Management Strategy aligned with international best practices. Our online Energy Monitoring System is constantly improved to monitor an increasing number of our facilities in a more detailed manner in order to reduce uncertainty.

In 2015, we invested R12 million in energy efficiency improvements (a 10% increase on 2014), thereby reducing our energy consumption across our South African operations by 9.1% to 28 gigawatt hours. Our renewable energy solutions provided 782 320 kilowatt hours of renewable energy during 2015, reducing carbon emissions.

Carbon footprint

Our carbon footprint has been calculated according to the International Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol’s Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. We use the operational control approach to determine what is included in our scope of reporting. SBSA’s CO2 equivalent for 2015 was 294 984 metric tons, 2% lower than 2014.


Water consumption

During 2015, we installed additional meters at 44 key sites in South Africa and gathered historic consumption patterns. Using this data, we have developed a methodology similar to that used to measure electricity, which has enabled us to extrapolate water consumption for all our local premises. Water saving initiatives include the retrofit of water-cooled equipment with air-coolers, the installation of low flush toilets, timers for bathroom taps, rain water harvesting systems for irrigation and monitoring equipment that eliminates the need for garden sprinklers during the rainy season. These water efficiency improvements, together with better measurement systems, resulted in a reduced water consumption of 698 018 kilolitres in 2015 (2014: 980 117 kilolitres).

Waste generated

In South Africa, we prioritise waste practices such as minimisation, reuse, recycling and responsible disposal. We receive disposal, reuse and recycling certificates from our service providers. We also undertake campaigns to raise employee awareness about minimising and sorting waste, and specific interventions such as the reuse of stationery and the use of recycling bins are in place. As our branches are generally located in multi-tenanted buildings, we engage with our landlords on waste management services and recycling systems.

Paper consumption and recycling

We have completed our programme to make electronic statements available across all products and introduced digital imaging into the application process for new customers. The reduction in paper consumed, from 2 502 tons in 2014 to 1 925 tons in 2015, is mostly as a result of transitioning to electronic statements and the more controlled printing environment within offices.

Case study: financing renewable energy – where we can make a real difference

Standard Bank has financed more than 40% of the energy currently provided by the REIPPP Programme. This programme, which was initiated in 2011, has resulted in the allocation of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 92 projects after four rounds of bidding, with the projects that have already been connected to the grid currently contributing about 1 760 megawatts to South Africa’s total generating capacity.

Standard Bank has provided finance for 14 active renewable energy projects (the other four projects are either still in construction or pre-construction phase) which deliver power to South Africa through State-owned power utility Eskom’s main power grid, helping to alleviate a chronic energy shortage. These projects comprise wind and solar projects, providing a total of more than 700 megawatts. Of the 14 projects, nine are photovoltaic (PV) systems, including six in the Northern Cape – the 75 megawatt Kalkbult, the 20 megawatt Herbert, the 10 megawatt Greefspan, the 75 megawatt Solar Capital, the 10 megawatt Upington Airport and the 40 megawatt Linde projects; two in Limpopo – the 30 megawatt Witkop and 28 megawatt Soutpan projects; and the 75 megawatt Dreunberg project in the Eastern Cape. The remaining five projects are wind projects totalling about 350 megawatt, including the Eastern Cape-based 140 megawatt Cookhouse and the 27 megawatt Metrowind projects; the 80 megawatt RedCap project at Coega, near Port Elizabeth; the 75 megawatt Noblesfontein project in the Northern Cape; and the 27 megawatt Klipheuwel project in the Western Cape.

Refer to the following article for further information in this regard.


Standard Bank’s Mogale’s Gate conservation centre in the Cradle of Humankind of South Africa is an area of high biodiversity value. This 3 060-hectare farm has 148 hectares of wetland and covers three veld types which host over 700 plant and 21 game species. The centre works to conserve the biodiversity of South Africa’s savannah areas and provides quality environmental education to schools and communities.

Situated in the upper catchment area of the Hekpoortspruit River, the wetland which Mogale’s Gate forms part of, captures and naturally releases on average 24.17 billion litres of water annually into the catchment. Since 1988, 13 large mammal species have been reintroduced into the area, including oribi. To enhance the beauty and biodiversity of the area, the centre plans to propagate indigenous trees. The following vegetation types are protected within Mogale’s Gate:

  • 148 hectares of wetlands
  • Gold Reef Mountain Bushveld (least threatened)
  • Moot Plains Bushveld (vulnerable)
  • Andesite Mountain Bushveld (least threatened)

Red Data List fauna and flora protected in the Mogale’s Gate conservancy

Mammals Near threatened: Brown Hyena, Leopard.
Vulnerable: Small-spotted Cat.
Least concern: South African Hedgehog, Aardwolf, Honey Badger, Oribi.
Birds Near threatened: Martial Eagle, African White-backed Vulture, Blue Korhaan.
Vulnerable: Cape Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Blue Crane, Lesser Kestrel.
Least concern: African Grass Owl, Marabou Stork, Secretary Bird, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner  Falcon, Black-bellied Bustard, Half-collared Kingfisher.
Reptiles Near threatened: Striped Harlequin Snake.
Plants Endangered: Turk’s Cap.
Vulnerable: Climbing Potato, Red Stinkwood.
Declining: Pineapple Flower, Poison Bulb, River Pumpkin, Star Flower, Cape Holly.
Least concern: Copper Leaf, Large Turret Flower, Wild Pear, Cape Valerian.

Mogale’s Gate is involved in environmental education programmes for schools and organisations, including a number of Lions Clubs community service volunteer groups which give disadvantaged children the opportunity to learn about biodiversity. The centre is an active partner to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa in its drive to register schools on the international Eco-Schools Programme. It also cooperates with the College of Environmental Sciences at the University of South Africa by giving students the opportunity to undertake practical lessons in conservation.

Leadership for Conservation in Africa

We are a patron and corporate funder of Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA), a non-profit organisation that establishes links between the business community, governments and conservation institutions. The LCA aims to develop 20 million hectares of conservation land in Africa by 2020, including the restoration and development of land under conservation to the benefit of the environment, local communities and host governments.

Since its inception in 2006, the LCA has been actively involved in 19 African countries. With support from Standard Bank, the LCA has successfully facilitated a 25-year public-private partnership with various stakeholders to ensure the protection of the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, a 1 354 600 hectare rainforest in the Republic of the Congo. The rainforest hosts the planet’s largest population of endangered lowland gorillas, 10 000 forest elephants and 430 bird species, as well as over 100 other rare and endangered mammals. There is already high demand for the park’s facilities from tourists, ensuring a new flow of revenue to the country and job opportunities for many Congolese residents.

The LCA also signed agreements with the Congolese Government to replicate the Odzala model in and around the 400 000 hectare Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. Both parks form a critical part of the larger rainforest ecosystem in the Congo Basin.

The LCA also supports the partial protection of the 650 000 hectare rainforest in the Dzanga-Sangha National Park in the Central Africa Republic. With our support, the LCA has signed an agreement with the  President of Senegal to facilitate and spearhead the process of forming a public-private partnership for the protection of the Niokolo-Koba National Park, a one million hectare endangered World Heritage Site. Similar agreements are being negotiated in other African countries.

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