Our Carbon Footprint

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A win-win-win situation

A smaller carbon footprint, more modern workplaces, lower costs – Jörg Salzer demonstrates that a green approach makes sense on many counts.

When the project was launched, it was largely the object of ridicule. A lift that generated energy on its way down, concrete that stores heat and a toilet whose water consumption is capped at three litres per flush – what’s the point? The answer: saving energy and fighting climate change. “It was an ecological and architectural first at the time,” enthused Jörg Salzer when talking about the renovation of Deutsche Bank’s head office twin towers in Frankfurt, which was completed in 2010 and remains a landmark achievement. As Group Head Corporate Services, Salzer is responsible for the bank’s buildings: “Standards were set at that time and they remain our benchmark – for the systems and equipment installed in the building, the construction materials, the climate control and generally the way we use the office space.”

In Frankfurt, the the twin office towers are commonly referred to as “debit and credit” in allusion to our business as a bank. That name is no longer appropriate following the renovation, because since then the company’s head office has been self-sufficient. The twin office towers demonstrated to many architects for the first time that conventional concrete can also be ecological and store heat – and that smart reuse systems can drastically reduce water consumption. The energy consumption of heating and air conditioning systems dropped by 67 per cent, while water consumption fell by no less than 74 per cent.

The ridicule is now a thing of the past. The erstwhile showcase project has since become the model for many other Deutsche Bank buildings which are seeing their own carbon footprint shrink from year to year. In 2007, Deutsche Bank set itself the objective of making its business operations carbon neutral, which it has achieved since 2012. CO₂ emissions – in office buildings or from business travel – have been reduced from 750,000 tonnes to around 360,000 tonnes since 2007. The bank now powers up to 80 per cent of its buildings using electricity from renewable sources. These are all milestones. The bank has now set further targets. By 2050, it is aiming for “net zero CO₂ emissions”. And renewable energies are to be the only source of power from 2025.


Group Head Corporate Services

But the best thing, as far as Jörg Salzer is concerned, is when no energy needs to be consumed. “We have to become much more efficient and reduce consumption,” he says. Progressing towards this objective will require fundamental changes in the buildings portfolio, among other things. Wherever the bank is modernising, it attempts to implement flexible space utilisation models. By choosing open-plan office concepts, the office space occupied is reduced and lower energy consumption is the result. And the head office towers are a shining example. Where individual offices or rooms for two people used to be the norm, open spaces were created that cover entire floors in some cases. Salzer: “At our Frankfurt head office we managed to create some 270-degree views where dark corridors used to be.” At the same time, desks are being equipped with advanced, energy-saving technology. Investment in modern workspaces reduces the bank’s space usage and energy consumption. Salzer calls it a “win-win-win situation.”

»We have to become much more efficient and reduce consumption«

What this looks like in practical terms can be seen around the globe at Deutsche Bank – in Australia, Singapore, China and Holland, projects to cut energy consumption are underway. At its new London address, “21 Moorfields”, Deutsche Bank will reduce its CO₂ emissions by some 3,800 tonnes and its electricity consumption by more than 15 gigawatt hours every year. Salzer: “Compared to today, our energy consumption there will decline by more than 60 per cent.” And this will apply over the long term – the rental agreement runs for many years.

But Jörg Salzer is still not satisfied with all that. “We are only starting to tap our potential; each individual, us as a bank and society as a whole. We can still do a lot more.” Use less plastic, travel by train more, expand the charging infrastructure for electromobility – Salzer has a long list. Even though the experience with the coronavirus crisis shows that a lot is conceivable in an emergency situation, he also recognises that the realm of possibility does have bounds. “We cannot stop all travel of course. That would mean we would never see our clients in person.” But much less travel is possible: in 2019 the bank reduced its air travel by a further nine per cent. From 2017 to 2019, the CO₂ emissions caused by employee air travel fell by 22 per cent. We have to carry on in this vein. “This course of action,” says Jörg Salzer, “is non-negotiable.”