The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How BT helps customers cut carbon emissions

Case study: How BT helps customers cut carbon emissions

As one of the world’s leading communications services companies, providing a variety of communications services to businesses and consumers, based in the UK but with customers in 180 countries around the globe, BT seeks to use its technology to help customers reduce their emissions, contributing to global action on climate change.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the 2015/16 Delivering our purpose Report by BT published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

Layout 1


Using its technology to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time – climate change –, minimising not just its own environmental impacts but also helping others do the same, is a top priority for BT. In order to help customers cut carbon emissions BT took action to:

  • help customers reduce emissions through broadband
  • provide flexible working solutions
  • offer collaboration, audio and videoconferencing solutions
  • provide data centre and cloud solutions

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2015/16 Delivering our purpose Report BT identified a range of material issues, such as privacy & data security, customer experience, network investment, business ethics. Among these, helping customers cut carbon emissions stands out as a key material issue for BT.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups BT engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Government bodies
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics BT engaged with stakeholders through day-to-day interactions by phone or in meetings, online discussion forums, focus groups, social media and participation in industry collaborations, online surveys and interviews.

What actions were taken by BT to help customers cut carbon emissions?

In its 2015/16 Delivering our purpose Report BT reports that it took the following actions for helping customers cut carbon emissions:

  • Helping customers reduce emissions through broadband
  • Broadband enables people to work from home or remotely (telecommuting) and save time, fuel and emissions from travelling to and from an office daily. Broadband also supports a range of technologies that remove or replace the use of physical products (dematerialisation) and the need to travel to get these products or access services (e.g. online news instead of newspapers, music and movie streaming that replace CDs and DVDs, and online services such as banking and shopping). In addition, superfast broadband makes telecommuting even easier for people, helping them make the change from physical to virtual products and services. Broadband also supports e-commerce, decreasing the need for physical shops.
  • Providing flexible working solutions
  • BT offers services that let staff work flexibly, like secure remote access to an organisation’s systems. Accordingly, desks can be shared as people aren’t all present at once, reducing the need for office space and cutting the amount of energy needed to power, heat and cool buildings. Flexible working also reduces commuting, offering people the opportunity to work from home. This can bring significant overall savings, even after taking into account the additional energy employees use to power, light and heat their homes when working there. BT also offers productivity solutions: Field Force Automation improves efficiency and productivity for organisations with staff travelling around to appointments during their working day (for example, sales teams, engineers or district nurses). Online services and automated scheduling mean employees don’t have to go to their base to get their call sheet in the morning and report in at the end of the day. Additionally, staff can be allocated to tasks near them to minimise travel, doing less mileage and fitting more visits into their day.
  • Offering collaboration, audio and videoconferencing solutions
  • BT’s audio and video conferencing services enable customers to meet remotely from anywhere, instead of travelling to meet up. In addition, BT offers organisations a single global network to support all communications – including voice, email, web and videoconferencing, as well as mobile devices – so that teams can work together effectively – whether sitting across a table, or across the world.
  • Providing data centre and cloud solutions
  • BT’s cloud services release organisations from the burden of having their own IT servers – which take up space and use energy on organisations’ premises. Instead, BT hosts their data and, by hosting such vast quantities of data, it can achieve economies of scale and reduce the energy required to power and cool its data centres. Additionally, BT makes data centres as efficient as possible, well above the industry average for energy efficiency.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is:

Disclosure 302-2 Energy consumption outside of the organization

Disclosure 302-2 Energy consumption outside of the organization corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

FBRH GRI Standards Certified and IEMA approved Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.



1) This case study is based on published information by BT, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:




Note to BT: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.