Absa Bank Kenya pivots Sustainable Banking through Green Practices

Banks are progressively turning into sustainable banking by adopting green practices, a move seen to entrench sustainability in the financial sector.

One such forward-thinking company is Absa Bank Kenya, which is intensifying its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by prioritizing green energy. Following an assessment of its operations, Absa recognized that the fuel used to power its vehicles and generators is a significant source of pollution.

According to Absa Bank Kenya’s latest sustainability report, their company cars and fuel generator consumption alone emitted 1.21 tons of CO2e, and an additional 1.24 tons of CO2e were emitted during the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling.

These emissions constitute a staggering 92.1 percent of the bank’s carbon footprint, with the remaining 7.8 percent (0.21 tons CO2e) attributed to water supply, paper use, and business travel.

Absa Bank Kenya is committed to accelerating its carbon reduction efforts by integrating environmentally friendly practices into its daily operations, yielding tangible results. This commitment aligns with its ambition to achieve green certification and become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2040.

The sustainability report reveals a noteworthy trend of declining total CO2 equivalent emissions over the past four years, with a 26 percent reduction from 2019 to 2020 and an additional 3 percent reduction achieved by 2022 through interventions and process optimizations.

These achievements have garnered attention both locally and internationally. In 2023, Absa Bank Kenya was recognized as the best bank in Sustainable Finance in Kenya at the Kenya Bankers Association Sustainable Finance Catalyst Awards. Moreover, the bank received the International Finance Corporation’s Excellence In Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) award in 2022 for integrating green building technologies in five branches—WestEnd, Bishopgate, Queensway, Nkrumah (Nairobi), Mombasa, and Kisii—setting the standard for eco-friendly infrastructure.

Absa’s sustainability efforts extend beyond building practices. In 2020, the bank became the first financial institution to join the Kenya Green Building Society (KGBS), championing environmentally sustainable buildings and promoting a healthy, efficient built environment.

Additional conservation initiatives within Absa’s offices include maximizing natural light and ventilation, installing reflective film on windows to reduce solar heat, using LED lighting, and implementing automatic motion and occupancy sensors and smart meters.

The sustainability report highlights the bank’s switch to eco-friendly water purification units, replacing traditional water dispensers and significantly reducing plastic waste. This change led to a water cost reduction of Ksh4.6 million in 2022.

“These investments have not only reduced Absa’s energy and water costs by up to 30 percent and 33 percent, respectively, but have also saved the bank up to Ksh25 million per year,” stated Absa.

Moreover, Absa Bank is committed to responsible banking principles, having signed the Principles for Responsible Banking at a group level and endorsed the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) principles through the Global Compact Kenya Network.