In an acceleration of its environmental and sustainability programme HSBC has committed $90 million (£180 million) over five years to a Global Environmental Efficiency Programme (GEEP). The world's local bank has already become carbon neutral but is intending to go further in raising its green credentials, with parts of the bank going carbon-negative.

Simon Martin, the bank's head of Group Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (HoGSaCR), said: "HSBC is determined to develop a sustainable business. Our shareholders, customers and employees consider these issues to be important - and this clearly demonstrates our continuing progress in placing sustainability at the very core of how we do business."

Main GEEP foci and completed projects

GEEP focuses on:
- Benchmarking - developing flagship buildings to recognised environmental standards which are independently certified;
- Footprint management and innovation - reducing energy and water consumption, business travel and carbon dioxide emissions, paper use and waste production. This will include piloting innovative and new technologies and working with our clients in the environmental sector,
- Behaviour - training, awareness raising, flexible working practices,
- Environmental Management Systems - systems and processes optimising the efficiency of the bank's operations.

Some completed projects include:
- Designing and building HSBC's first 'zero carbon' branch in Greece, New York, which optimises energy efficiency using geothermal ground source heat pumps;
- Installing solar photovoltaic panels at the First Direct offices in Leeds, UK;
- Introducing a bio-diesel plant for back-up generators in the Global Technology Centre, Pune, India; and
- Reducing waste by installing composting vessels in Hong Kong to recycle organic kitchen waste;
- Removing the majority of personal desk bins at the global HQ, London, in favour of a full recycling system.

HSBC's Global Technology Centre (GLT) in Pune, India, has installed technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 700 tonnes per year, representing a 20 percent saving.

HSBC wants to get its 315,000 employees engaged in this pro-environmental effort. Its HSBC Climate Partnership, a separate US$100m, five-year programme launched on 30 May 2007, will facilitate employee engagement by creating a 25,000-strong 'green taskforce' world-wide which will undertake field research and bring back valuable knowledge and experience to their workplace and communities. It will also help HSBC employees use their business skills and knowledge of climate change to help the Group build a more sustainable business.

There is no word that HSBC will modify its lending policies and investment decisions to favour clients also committed to affirmative environmental action or to help persuade clients with negative environmental policies to change them.

HSBC pats itself on the back, deservedly, by listing its recognised environmental credentials:
- HSBC was awarded the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 in recognition of the Group's contributions to global environmental protection.
- HSBC was awarded top spot in the Banks and Diversified Financials Sector of the Carbon Disclosure Project's latest Climate Leadership Index.
- HSBC was named as the best performing bank in the 2006 ethical reputation rankings published by Geneva-based consultancy Covalence.