Sustainability: Managing Our Footprint on the Planet

From the way we run our business to the way we collaborate with clients and other partners, we are part of a vast and interconnected world of shared resources. As a services firm, our environmental footprint is modest compared to that of many manufacturers, but with more than 60 offices around the world, our operations have an impact. We track and report our carbon footprint and our efforts toward greater energy efficiency and reduced emissions, as well as our water use and our responsible procurement practices.

At Edelman we understand the significance of the environment to our people, our clients, and the communities in which we operate. We believe that every company has a clear responsibility to do its part to help protect our shared environment and conserve our precious natural resources. We recognize that reducing our impacts across all aspects of our business helps preserve our planet for future generations. As such, Edelman ensures that our business strategy is closely aligned with our policy on the environment, with committed leadership on environmental issues. 

– From the Edelman Global Environmental Policy, effective January 2012

Since the announcement of our hub offices’ carbon reduction target in the previous financial year, important decisions have been made to tackle the company’s environmental impact as a whole. While each hub’s strategy was gradually taking shape, Edelman’s global carbon emissions in fiscal year 2012 were 17,647 tCO2e, accounting for the carbon emissions of 53 offices in five operating regions. While absolute emissions during fiscal year 2012 increased by 9 percent from the fiscal year 2011 baseline due to continued business growth, carbon intensity per full time equivalent (FTE), however, achieved a 3 percent decrease from baseline, at 3.9 tCO2e/FTE.


The fiscal year 2012 footprint follows the same emissions profile as previous years, with emissions from business air travel accounting for the most significant part (74 percent) of Edelman’s global carbon impact, followed by that of purchased electricity use (22 percent) and mobile fuel combustion (2 percent). This is typical of an international services firm. Emissions by region display a similar pattern that reflects our business focus. A total of 68 percent of our global emissions come from the 14 U.S. offices, with offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific occupying slightly more significant share than previous years. Note that our regional structure changed slightly at the beginning of fiscal year 2014 (beginning July 1, 2013). Our environmental performance data is reported here according to the regional structure in place when the data was collected and not according to our current regional structure.

The absolute emissions increase was largely due to business air travel, which increased by 8 percent from baseline. The increase in emissions from flights is attributable to business growth and a 12 percent increase in the number of full-time equivalent employees. Absolute emissions from purchased electricity use (Scope 2) increased by 14 percent, commensurate with a 14 percent increase in office space around the world. Through conscious efforts to manage paper use and adopt office paper with higher recycled content, impressive reductions were achieved by offices across Canada, Europe, Latin America and the U.S., which delivered a 17 percent absolute emissions decrease against emissions from the same source in fiscal year 2011.


Values may not add up exactly due to round-up.


GHG Emissions by Region

GHG Emissions by Region

Progress Toward Our Targets

Noting the key role of our hub offices in global footprint management, four of our hub offices have committed to a 5 percent carbon-intensity target by end of FY2015, based on FY2011 levels.

5 percent Target Carbon intensity reduction per full time equivalent by end of FY2015, against FY2011 levels
Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and London offices

One year into their targets, two of the four hub offices, London and Washington D.C., have reduced their carbon intensity (expressed as tCO2e per full time equivalent – FTE) from baseline by 13 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Largely thanks to the reduction in emissions from business air travel, these offices are well on their way to meeting the targets. The other two hubs, New York and Chicago, recorded increases in carbon intensity of 0.02 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Both offices underwent major expansion during the year. Chicago’s total occupied floor area increased by 25 percent, while New York’s increased by 19 percent, contributing to the increase in energy consumption. Despite all four offices’ efforts to encourage video-conferencing use — and New York’s use of the technology almost reaching 10 percent of office hours — performance by our two largest hubs is not yet on track due to business air travel.

New Hubs, New Targets

In fiscal year 2013, two new offices, San Francisco and Silicon Valley — already sustainability leaders in many ways — also committed to helping Edelman reduce its global footprint. The two California offices have committed to a 4.8 percent (San Francisco) and 4 percent (Silicon Valley) carbon intensity (per FTE) reduction targets, respectively, against fiscal year 2011 levels.

Five New Global Environmental Goals

Edelman has committed to rolling out five global actions towards reducing the company’s environmental impacts:

  1. Improved printing and paper management. This new policy will set existing network printers and copiers to print double-sided by default, and Edelman will purchase letter and A4 paper with a minimum of 50 percent recycled content. Offices with the highest emissions will be engaged to explore the potential for implementing managed print services to reduce energy use as well as paper consumption.
  2. Improved lighting energy efficiency in 10 largest emitting offices. All offices are recommended to review current office lighting fixtures to check office lighting levels for optimal luminosity and avoid over lighting. The 10 highest emitters are advised to seek lighting or office energy audits to gauge savings potential. The Chicago office is implementing a lighting retrofit project as a pilot.
  3. 10 percent videoconferencing usage target and increasing virtual meeting technology use. All offices are encouraged to actively promote videoconferencing as a means of limiting air travel. A monthly usage target of 10 percent of office hours for all high-definition Polycom videoconferencing units (in 20 offices) has been established. Several Edelman offices, including Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi, have achieved more than 10 percent of office hours’ usage rate, with the Indian offices also adopting videoconferencing for recruiting and other human resources activities.
  4. Enhancing local green teams. Edelman is recommending that all offices enlist more members into their green teams so that each team has enough participants to take care of key responsibilities on environmental data reporting, videoconferencing coordination and e-waste recycling. Of 49 offices that responded to a 2013 survey, 88 percent have active “Green Teams.” These teams help garner office support for recycling, energy conservation and other activities, and we want to make sure this is done in every Edelman office.
  5. Global E-waste recycling. While many Edelman offices donate or recycle used IT equipment, it is not always known where donations end up. Edelman has committed to engaging with CloudBlue, an e-Stewards® Certified Partner, to recycle e-waste globally. Annual environmental benefits expected include energy savings, solid waste and toxic materials reduction and reductions in greenhouse gas, water and air emissions, among others.

Responsibly Disposing of Electronics

In 2009, selected Edelman offices began working with CloudBlue to recycle or otherwise responsibly dispose our computers, phones and other electronics. Equipment is collected and taken offsite to remove all software and other information. During fiscal year 2012, CloudBlue collected 840 electronic items weighing nearly 1 metric ton (1,923 pounds) from our U.S. offices. The items recovered were worth an estimated U.S.$62,500. Their recovery delivered energy savings sufficient to power 48 households for a year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

The service will roll out early in fiscal year 2014 for other offices around the world, including throughout Europe, where Edelman will comply with the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive well ahead of the 2016 deadline.

Public Transportation

In fiscal year 2012 28 percent of U.S. employees participated in Wage Works, the U.S. pre-tax public transport voucher system. Each year, Edelman re-engages employees to encourage the use of public transport via WageWorks.

“Edelman’s focus on citizenship is a spirit, not just an activity. I carry that spirit home by taking public transport three days a week instead of driving every day, and share my experiences to influence my friends, too.” 

– Julia Chu, administration manager, Edelman Taipei

Sustainability: Next Steps
In January 2012 Edelman issued its first global environmental policy. The policy outlines our beliefs, our approach and our actions toward our environmental responsibility as a company. Additionally, we stated our commitments to achieving meaningful impact reductions at scale and raising the awareness of our people, our clients and other stakeholders about opportunities to work, live and play more sustainably.

Through our Supplier Code of Ethics and other means, Edelman encourages our suppliers to consider the environmental impacts of goods and services in their business dealings with us. Such impacts include minimizing carbon footprint through efficient travel, recycling and responsible wastewater and solid waste disposal. Together, Edelman’s Supplier Code of Ethics and Environmental Policy help to ensure high environmental standards throughout every step of the business cycle.

Going forward, we will continue tracking global emissions, while striving to improve data quality on an ongoing basis. We are moving away from our historically decentralized approach, working instead to develop an all-office-inclusive, formalized team structure to help us deliver on our energy and carbon goals.

Tracking our Progress

In 2013, we began developing a new report to help our global offices more consistently monitor their social and environmental activities and outcomes. When rolled out in fiscal year 2014, the Edelman Citizenship Dashboard will help our local offices track and report their performance on indicators covering the environment, volunteerism, society and governance. The dashboard will also provide a way to benchmark our performance across the company. Six to eight months after roll-out, we will assess use of the report, with the long-term goal of integrating into business operations through staff reviews and other means.

Edelman Citizenship Dashboard
E1) On-time regular reporting of GHG data: updated every quarter
E2) All regular paper purchase (A4 or Letter size) is of at least 50 percent recycled content
E3) Improvement of energy efficiency (kwh/ft2) against baseline
E4) Increasing average monthly VC usage rate to 10 percent of office hours
E5) E-Waste recycling through CloudBlue is implemented
Hub offices extra indicator: EH) – Meeting GHG targets
V6) At least 4 Hours of skill-based volunteering/FTE
V7) More than 80 percent of employees participated in volunteering
V8) On-time, regular reporting on volunteerism: updated every quarter
S9) Ensure that 50 percent of leadership positions (Level 6 or above) are held by women
G10) More than 85 percent of applicable FTE employees are trained on company global citizenship policies (including at least anti-corruption, environment and energy, diversity and inclusion)


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