Financial firms hit by the credit crunch are increasingly focusing on energy efficiency to cut costs and combat the impact of a potential economic slowdown, says the UK's Carbon Trust.
Around 17% of 60 managers in the accountancy, banking and financial services sector surveyed by YouGov say cutting carbon emissions has risen up their agenda in the last six months, compared to just three per cent who say it has slipped.
Of the 65% of companies in the sector that have or are looking to trim costs, 23% would prioritise general energy efficiency.
This outranked redundancies (13%), recruitment freezes (19%), holding salaries or giving below inflation pay rises (17%) as the favoured cost-cutting option.
"Our new statistics provide stark evidence that if companies are starting to feel the bite from the economic downturn, the first place to look for cost savings should be their energy bill. There are literally millions of pounds going out of the window every day, across the UK," says Hugh Jones, solutions director, the Carbon Trust. "We're talking about money that could be saved by making quick and easy changes such as encouraging staff to turn off computers and lights, turning down the heating, or maintaining equipment properly."
The Carbon Trust says UK businesses could collectively save nearly £2.5 billion during the next 12 months by implementing cost effective energy efficiency measures.
However research released earlier this year from Datamonitor and commissioned by BT Global Services found that a general lack of planning means UK banks are failing to use technology effectively to improve environmental sustainability.
The survey of 50 senior executives in UK financial institutions with more than 500 employees found that the vast majority of financial institutions - 94% - believe that sustainable practices are important to their reputation and 90% believe that IT has a role to play in improving their record.
But only half (51%) have a proper plan in place to utilise technology to help their organisation operate in a more sustainable way.