At Sun Life, being a sustainable company means paying attention to a range of environmental, social and governance matters that intersect with our business. While the definition of sustainability has evolved beyond its financial roots, taking action today to achieve a greener tomorrow continues to be an important area of focus in our approach to sustainability.
We continue to focus on our environmental practices, making progress in such areas as sustainability certifications in our real estate assets, investments in clean and renewable energy projects and measuring and reporting on greenhouse gases. We constantly seek better ways to be more efficient in our premises and the way we carry out our business.
Sustainability is part of who we are as a company. It’s the very nature of our business: helping people around the world protect their families and manage personal financial risks throughout their lives. Ours is a business where we make promises that last 20, 30, 40 years or more – promises we know we will be able to keep tomorrow, because of the considered action we take today, believing the future is what we make it.
In our buildings
We’re taking significant steps to reduce our environmental footprint. How? By consuming less, diverting more waste and by adopting sustainable building and development practices.
We occupy approximately 2.8 million square feet of office space in Canada alone. In 2011, throughout our organization, we completed several energy and water efficiency projects and achieved substantial improvements in our overall sustainability profile. In our Canadian headquarters, we replaced washroom fixtures with low-flow models, expected to reduce water consumption by approximately 10,000 cubic meters per year. At several Sun Life locations in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., in 2011 alone, we removed more than 200 servers and replaced them with fewer, high-capacity models, significantly reducing our electricity consumption.
We actively monitor and manage the environmental footprint of our existing properties. In 2011, Philippines headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in Manila received both LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) CS Gold and LEED CI Gold certifications.. To date, 61% (by market value) of Sun Life’s commercial real estate has been awarded either a BOMA BESt or LEED® EB designation. These organizations identify industry best practices and develop programs to help landlords achieve optimal environmental performance.
BOMA stands for Building Owners and Managers Association.
BESt stands for Building Environmental Standards.
EB stands for Existing Buildings.
® LEED is a registered trade-mark of the U.S. Green Building Council.
In our business
In 2011 and early 2012, Sun Life received 7 commendations at the national, North American and global levels for our ongoing sustainability initiatives. That includes being the only North American life insurance company named to the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, and our 11th consecutive year listed in the FTSE4Good Index, which provides investors with a list of companies that meet globally recognized corporate responsibility standards.
We’re an international company headquartered in Canada with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and several countries throughout Asia. By linking our offices and departments with teleconferencing, videoconferencing and web conferencing technologies, we maintain business communication without the need to travel, minimizing our carbon footprint.
Our efforts to promote paperless, electronic services continued in 2011. Leveraging the use of online services, personal electronic devices and web-based transactions, we have been able to reduce the need for tens of millions of pages of paper each year, as well as saving the energy it takes to produce and distribute paper documents.
We also ensure that the mission, vision and values of our affiliates, subsidiaries and joint venture partners are consistent with those of Sun Life. MFS McLean Budden, for example, is a leader in socially responsible investing (SRI), defined as sustainable, socially conscious or ethical investing. And Birla Sun Life Insurance, our joint venture in India, has provided microinsurance products since 2007, ensuring that those living in remote, rural areas with limited means have access to small-premium, small-payout policies to provide these families some peace of mind.
Investing in clean and renewable energy
We’ve been investing in clean and renewable energy for more than 28 years. In 2011, we financed approximately $217 million in 5 clean and renewable energy projects. This includes natural gas / cogeneration projects, which are considered environmentally preferable as they use otherwise waste heat from neighbouring industries.
For more information on our renewable energy projects and other sustainability initiatives, see our Public Accountability Statement and Sustainability Report.