The employees at PricewaterhouseCoopers' new London headquarters will consume 45,000 liters of cooking oil per month, a firm announcement suggests, enough to fill 9,000 deep fryers and clog 9,000,000 arteries. That last figure is probably inaccurate, but no matter; instead of drinking the recycled bacon grease and vegetable blubber, the PwC troops will be using it to power their brand-new office, opening later this year on the south bank of the Thames.
Every week, the firm says, two tankers carrying 6,000 liters of cooking oil collected from bars, restaurants, and other local businesses will roll through London en route to the Big Four giant's new eco-friendly headquarters. Before dropping off its payload, the tankers will travel to Uptown Biodiesel, a London refinery that converts kitchen scraps and plant matter into low-carbon biofuel, an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Post-conversion it's on to PwC, where nearly 6,000 PwC consultants and staffers will enjoy the comforts of clean, responsible energy.
The headquarters is an impressive feat in sustainable architecture. The biofuels will cover about 25 percent of the building's electricity demand and 20 percent of its heating and cooling processes, while solar panels generate another quarter's worth of energy on-site. State of the art heat/cold retention units and intuitive lighting systems round out the low/zero carbon technologies that power the building.
Meat sweats: The culprit and the cure.
PwC sources the raw materials for its biofuels with the help of caterer/food service provider Aramark, which collects organic waste for the effort from local eateries, pubs, and even other PwC offices.
Jon Barnes, PwC UK's building and facilities head (is that like head janitor?), was proud of the accomplishments. "When you think of green technologies you don’t think of used oil from a kitchen," he admitted, "but the reality is these technologies offered us a real low carbon alternative to traditional fuel. It was an ambitious plan, when you realize a small restaurant might use 10 to 20 liters a week, and you see the scale of the deal we’re talking about, for just one site." Barnes also noted importance of keeping the whole operation local, thereby ruling out the carbon-heavy cost of transportation from the equation.
This particular sustainability effort is part of a PwC initiative started in 2007 to reduce energy consumption firm-wide. If the stated goal—25 percent reduction in energy usage per square meter of office space by 2012—is attainable by next year (PwC says its achieved 16 percent so far), this is a positive sign of the firm's willingness to aggressively pursue that noble end.
For more information:
PwC: Recycled cooking oil energy deal for new London office