Norwich Union Financial Services Group

Environmental Audit of Office Management (1991): Norwich Union Financial Services Group


Courtesy of Norwich Union Financial Services Group

 For an outlay of about $55,000 on new equipment and processes, Norwich Union has estimated savings of $217,000 per annum on its office running costs. The savings were in costs of energy, stores and stationery, car fleet management and waste management. Norwich also found that the initiative boosted staff morale, and has introduced similar procedures in its inter-state offices.


Norwich Union Financial Services Group is part of the International Norwich Union Group. With operations in 14 countries, the worldwide group manages more than A$124 billion of funds. In Australia, Norwich comprises a number of companies in the financial services industry, whose core businesses are funds management, retail investment, life insurance and superannuation. In Australia, the Norwich Group has a staff of 590.

The process

The office involves a myriad of small tasks, rather than a factory production line. Key inputs were energy, stores and stationery. Operating issues include car fleet management. Finally, waste management covers significant quantities of paper, aluminium cans, glass and PET bottles.

Cleaner production initiatives

In 1991, a consultant was engaged to undertake an environmental audit. The aim of the audit was to reinforce existing environmentally responsible procedures and educate staff through the establishment of an Environment Committee.

Key improvements identified in the environmental audit included:


The air conditioning unit at head office was modified at a cost of $20,000 to improve efficiency through the implementation of 'liquid pressure amplification' and liquid injection pumps. The expected payback period is 1.6 years.

One of the chillers in another property has also been converted to run on CFC-free gases which are not harmful to the ozone layer.

As part of the review, a follow-up night audit was conducted to determine the number of electrical appliances left on. The audit revealed that only 30 terminals and printers were left on, out of a total of 570, indicating the success of the initial environmental education program. The original audit estimated that the energy cost of leaving terminals on came to $36,000 per annum.

The lack of individual light switches for meeting rooms, store rooms and individual offices meant lights often ran for long periods when rooms were vacant. Changes were estimated at delivering savings of approximately $7,000 per annum, with a payback period of 3.3 years.

An electronic timer was installed in the social club bar at a cost of $700 so that air conditioning and heating runs only when the bar is in use. Savings are estimated at $2,000 per annum.

Stores and stationery

Reports are electronically dispatched to the relevant staff, reducing paper use and wastage.

The group has trialled 100% recycled paper but found it caused problems for the high speed printers. They now use paper made from managed forests in Gippsland. The consultant has recommended using Xerox's 80% recycled paper as an alternative to the 100% recycled paper.

The Printing Department is using recycled products which are chlorine- and dioxin-free for all advertising brochures and consumer publications. Business cards are also produced on environmentally sound, oxygen-bleached board. 95% of envelopes used are manufactured from recycled paper, and most areas are using recycled post-it note pads.

Printing and stationery departments spent more than $30,000 per annum on recycled laser cartridges and computer ribbons. It would have cost the company $77,182 to use new cartridges. Use of recycled cartridges has resulted in savings of $42,000 per annum.

A staff member converted the internal phone directory for use on e-mail, allowing frequent and efficient updating, and eliminating the need for paper copies.

Car fleet management

By October 1994, 70% of the car fleet had converted from petrol to LPG. The cost of conversion is generally paid back within the first year and the vehicles kept for 3 to 4 years, resulting in substantial cost savings and environmental benefits.

In 1993, the consultant’s review found that the cost of LPG for the 27 converted vehicles was $43,500. If they had used petrol, the cost would have been over $87,000 per annum.

Commercial waste

All Norwich sites in Melbourne are recycling waste paper, and the office headquarters are also recycling aluminium cans, glass and PET bottles. Savings in waste removal costs are approximately $6,240 per annum.

Disposable plastic cups have been replaced by ceramic mugs.

100% recycled toilet paper and hand towels are provided in rest rooms.

Advantages of the process

The cost of the consultant’s environmental audit was $7,000. Capital costs have been less than $50,000, while total savings have amounted to an estimated $217,000 per annum.

Cleaner Production Incentives

The financial benefits were exceptional. After the success of Norwich Melbourne, the consultant who undertook the audit was sent to the Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane offices to implement the same process.

The implementation of environmental management systems had boosted staff morale, reflecting staff interest in environmental issues. The project also has strong backing from the Norwich Board. Norwich believes that the inclusion of all staff - from the top down - is crucial to the success of the project.


Continued monitoring of environmental performance was necessary to maintain the savings achieved and find new measures. This can be difficult once the ‘easy’ gains have been made. The consultant continued to monitor the progress of the program, producing a review report in 1994. A review process enables constant adjustment to the environmental program, making it dynamic, rather than a one-off response to the initial environmental audit.

Subsequent to the implementation of the audit, the consultant established an Environmental Advisory Team made up of staff from various departments.

Customer comments

No comments were found for Environmental Audit of Office Management (1991): Norwich Union Financial Services Group. Be the first to comment!