Objectives of Xero’s work
Building on established efforts, we will continue to positively contribute to environmental sustainability. Our objectives are to:
reduce waste and increase recycling
reduce electricity consumption in buildings
evaluate our greenhouse gas emissions footprint
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging alternative modes of transport for employees
minimise carbon intensive travel options such as air travel, and encourage video and teleconference style meetings
enhance our procurement processes so that social and environmental impacts are a key consideration in purchasing decisions (e.g. minimising the carbon impact of transportation)
Net Zero @ Xero
At our half year earnings in November 2019, we announced Xero is taking action towards a net zero carbon footprint - we are calling this Net Zero @ Xero. As part of this, Xero has now offset 100% of our carbon emissions for the year to 31 March 2019. And we’re committed to doing this going forward. We’ve calculated our carbon footprint for FY19 through the following (but not exclusive of):
- Facilities (energy consumption, waste, water & paper)
- Employee commute
- Data centre usage (through partners)
- Building services
We have chosen to offset our carbon footprint for FY19 by investing in three environmental projects and conservation schemes across the globe which are recognised under international standards.
The projects are in New Zealand, Borneo and India and are designed to restore indigenous forests and protect endangered species, soak up carbon dioxide directly from the air and generate clean energy with the aim of reducing future emissions.
Read more about the projects and how we're making a difference in our blog.
We will be introducing more initiatives to optimise our carbon footprint so that ultimately, we are reducing our impact - not just offsetting it. This includes looking at ways we can deliver efficiencies with our data centre usage through suppliers, global premises, our people and our supply chain.
We are working on setting specific targets to complement our objectives to lower electricity consumption in all offices where we have sufficient control. Currently we can effectively monitor usage in 14 of our offices. In these offices we aim to reduce consumption to 226 kWh/m2 per year or less, as per the standards set in the UK WRAP green office guide.
Half (50%) of Xero’s office electricity consumption is in New Zealand, which has a high proportion of electricity generation from renewable sources. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) data, in 2018, 83.9% of New Zealand's electricity supply was from renewable sources.
In addition, we are working towards compliance with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme in the United Kingdom.
Heritage building reinvented as modern business premises
New Xero Wellington HQ officially opened
Inside Xero’s new Wellington HQ
First look inside Xero's trendy Auckland headquarters
Data centre storage
Xero uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform as our cloud services platform partner. AWS has a long-term commitment to use 100% renewable energy in its global infrastructure, and in January 2018, it achieved 50% renewable energy usage. We are working with AWS to determine how we can optimise infrastructure utilisation.
AWS and sustainability
We are committed to continually improving our recycling methods. We already:
recycle paper, glass, hard plastic, aluminium and tin cans and cardboard
undertake composting where these services are available in leased offices
have eliminated the use of bottled water in all offices
endeavour to source all paper for printers from FSC/PEFC sources
use paper hand towels and toilet paper from recycled/ FSC/PEFC sources where we have direct control of supplies
procure recycling services for printer toner cartridges, batteries and electronic waste
return leased IT equipment (principally laptops) at the end of their life to the leasing company
recycle non-leased IT equipment (printers, screens etc) where possible via certified e-waste companies
Proposed recycling improvements
We're looking at ways to make improvements to our recycling methods. In addition to company initiatives, we benefit from having employees who are committed to recycling efforts and have lots of ideas to offer.
Getting to work
We provide end-of-trip facilities, including secure bike parking, showers and well-equipped changing rooms in all our newer buildings to better support alternative modes of transport. Charging points for electric vehicles are also made available.
We set out to lease buildings that are Green Star, LEED, BREEAM or NABERS certified.
The Auckland office has a 5* Green Star rating (5,900m2, second largest office).
The new Denver office is LEED Platinum rated (2,786m2, fourth largest office).
The Wellington building, opened in 2017, is our largest office at 6,804m2. It was built with Green Star principles but is not certified.
Xero has recently signed an agreement to lease 7,580m2 of space in Melbourne, Australia. This building is due to be operational in 2021 and will be built to 5* Green Star rating.
Note: The Auckland and Denver offices together represent 30% of our leased space.
To ensure we’re taking responsibility for our impact, we’re continually looking at ways to make more sustainable purchasing decisions in our everyday work.
Some of the other ways in which we are making improvements through more sustainable decisions include:
Our 2019 annual report is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited and is printed with vegetable inks.
Our major vendor, Amazon Web Services has stated its long-term commitment to using 100% renewable energy in its global infrastructure. It exceeded 50% renewable energy for 2018. We're working with AWS to determine how we can optimise infrastructure utilisation.
For our 2019 annual global Xerocon conferences, attended by thousands of delegates, we're introducing more sustainable options for our delegates. You can read more about our improvements for Xerocon Brisbane here.
We switched to ethically sourced organic cotton from AS Colour for our staff t-shirts in 2019.
Case study: switching to organic cotton staff t-shirts
Xero sees sustainability as an opportunity for innovation and to be a leader in making improvements where it makes business sense. So we took a small step towards sustainable sourcing by having all of our 2019 Xero-branded staff t-shirts (from sizes XS to 2XL) made from AS Colour’s organic cotton range.
AS Colour’s commitment to sustainability
AS Colour is a New Zealand company with a commitment to sustainability. Its cotton is grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and is GOTS certified. AS Colour also has a responsible sourcing strategy whereby it has zero tolerance to bonded labour, and is part of the Child Labor Free and the Amfori BSCI initiatives.
Time to go organic
For Xero, we knew the time was right to make the switch. We’ve been using AS Colour for the past five years to source our t-shirts, so when they released their new organic cotton range last year, it was something we had to get on board with.
We also made a conscious decision to have the t-shirts sent to us in bulk without the use of individual plastic wrapping – another step towards improving our environmental impact.
Taking it further
We’re also looking to expand this initiative to the t-shirts that we provide externally – both at our events and on the online store.
This is part of our broader efforts to ensure that sustainability principles are part of our business planning and every day practice. We’re taking steps to grow our business sustainably and this includes taking responsibility for our social impact by respecting environmental resources.
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