Our Approach

DMA, G4-EN19, G4-EN23, G4-EN27, G4-EN32, G4-15, G4-18G4-PR8, G4-SO9

Nielsen is committed to responsible environmental practices around the globe. We address our impact by improving our efficiency and conserving resources, using a multi-stakeholder approach to reduce our footprint and drive sustainable outcomes. We achieve these outcomes by:

  • Working with internal business leaders across functions to understand the environmental impact of our business where we live, work and travel;
  • Partnering with our clients and vendors to influence and drive long-term sustainable change and embed sustainability into the work that we do every day; and
  • Driving a grassroots impact by leveraging our onsite volunteer Green Team leaders from around the globe to identify and launch initiatives that drive day-to-day impact across Nielsen offices.

Environmental programs are administered and governed by our Director of Sustainability in partnership with our volunteer Green Teams and other leaders across departments including Supplier Diversity, Vendor Management, Facilities and Sourcing. Launching in 2016, Nielsen will be using an external tool for global facility-based environmental data collection and reporting. This will include electricity used in our buildings, fuel for running heaters or generators, water consumption and landfill waste generation. The tool’s database will eventually expand to include other waste, like recycling and e-waste, along with travel. More information about our overall efforts is available for review in Nielsen Environmental Guidelines for Operations and Nielsen Environmental Programs and Policies.

As a professional services company, the main environmental impact of our operations is energy use in our office buildings and data centers. Based on our most recent non-financial materiality assessment, which surveyed our internal and external stakeholders about the most significant issues affecting Nielsen, the top environmental issues that emerged were energy, travel and waste (particularly e-waste and paper). Nielsen’s energy use is both consumed at its company-owned offices and data centers and at shared and/or contracted facilities. Water use is not a material risk to Nielsen’s direct operations; however, it is recognized as a societal issue that affects our employees around the world.

NGID volunteers in Kenya

While these topics generally reflect the material environmental issues of other professional services firms, we recognize that the overall global impact of climate change creates an opportunity for Nielsen to expand our commitment to reduce our environmental footprint. In the coming years, we are committed to gathering more detailed environmental data about our global operations so we can better understand the company’s impact. New data collection processes and tracking systems are being implemented as a result of our efforts to both respond to stakeholder feedback and to enhance our overall sustainability and transparency. For example, in 2016 we intend to strengthen the environmental component of our new core supplier contracts through our Vendor Management team.


NGID volunteers in Thailand

With that in mind, our goals in the area of Environmental Sustainability are to:

  • Reduce global energy use per square foot of facility space by up to 5% by 2020.
  • Ensure that virtually none of our global e-waste is sent to landfills by 2020.
  • Upgrade our data center storage to energy-efficient all-flash by the end of 2018.

As mentioned, energy use is Nielsen’s most significant environmental impact. This includes energy use categorized by the GHG Protocol as Scope 1 (heating excluding electricity; generator fuel consumption) and Scope 2 (electricity usage in owned and leased offices and in company-owned and -operated data centers).

For our energy reduction goal, we plan to set a baseline in 2016 based on 2015 use. The baseline will initially be focused on North America, with the intention to add geographies as our data scope expands. Challenges to this effort include decentralized records of energy use and limited reporting by utilities companies and landlords. For context, we plan to accurately report the scope of our data as represented by the percentage of Nielsen’s total square footage. As we solidify our data, we may also note extrapolation of data as a way to establish our benchmark.

To report and achieve our goals, we intend to take the following actions in 2016:

  • Implement a new EMS program to automate data collection through an external tool that is a Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Enterprise Resource Platform Partner and is certified according to ISO 27001-ISO 207001;
  • Establish a benchmark of energy usage to show yearly progress toward energy use reduction on an annual basis;
  • Activate data collection processes in more operations across the globe to increase the scope and accuracy of our energy use and GHG carbon emissions reporting;
  • Outline current and future initiatives designed to reduce energy consumption to meet our stated goals; and
  • Negotiate new and renewed leases with landlords to include the contractual obligation to share data on energy, as well as waste and water usage as a way to continually increase our scope of reporting.

NGID volunteers in India


Within each of our material environmental issues–and other focus areas–our main internal initiatives include:

Waste Management

Promote strategies and programs to reduce landfill of all waste, particularly electronic waste (e-waste).

Repair Centers

We encourage the reuse and repair of equipment, rather than buying new equipment. We maintain three repair centers in strategic global locations to service equipment and ensure that wherever feasible, old parts are reused for other purposes or to build new prototypes. For 2016, a key continued goal for all our repair centers is to extend the service lifecycle of our equipment and to further standardize our repair center model and cycle-time metrics.

  • Our Philippines repair center services Asia, Africa, Greater China and our MENAP region. In 2015, 1,942 units were repaired or refurbished there. Only 40 units were found to be “beyond repair” in 2015 and were either kept at the repair center to use as parts or returned to their source. Of particular note in our Philippines repair center in 2015, our processed volume increased by 72% compared to 2014.
  • Our Americas repair center services both the North America and Latin America regions. There, 221,381 units were repaired or refurbished in 2015; 26,976 units were found to be “beyond repair” in 2015. Compared to 2014, our processed volume has increased by 35%.
  • Out of our Italy repair center that services Europe, 143,922 units were repaired or refurbished in 2015. Only 170 units were found to be “beyond repair” in 2015 and were either kept at the repair center to use as parts or returned to their source. Since 2014, our processed volume has increased by 24%.
  • Our India repair center, launched in early 2016, will serve the India region and all of its lines of business. This is part of our effort to reuse equipment instead of purchasing new equipment. The repair center will follow the same methodology as the other repair centers.

Electronic Waste

Nielsen works with its third-party disposal partners to direct as much of our e-waste into recycling and refurbishment programs as possible, with a 2020 goal of sending virtually none of our e-waste to landfills. Currently, of the data being tracked, all of our e-waste such as desktop computers, laptops, keyboards, monitors and other office equipment are reused or refurbished for as long as possible before being recycled. Nielsen also donates refurbished technology to nonprofits and schools at no cost. During 2015, Nielsen donated 165 laptops in the U.S. to nonprofit organizations via TechSoup, a nonprofit that connects donors with nonprofits in need of updated technology.

Disposal and Destruction

Disposal and destruction of electronic equipment occurs using third-party vendors. Nielsen is an e-Stewards Enterprise committed to using e-Steward’s certified recyclers to safely, ethically and responsibly recycle our IT assets.

Nielsen works with sustainable e-waste vendors like CloudBlue to dispose of our electronic waste in safe and environmentally friendly ways. CloudBlue manages most of Nielsen hardware in North America and less than half of our hardware internationally. By recycling our electronic waste through CloudBlue, Nielsen has responsibly disposed of 46,568 kilograms of solid waste, the equivalent of the waste of 25 U.S. households in one year. Working with another e-waste recycling provider in Asia, SPW Enterprise IT, we safely disposed of 752 units and donated 52 additional units in 2015.

Security and E-waste

The Nielsen Information Security Policy specifies disposal and destruction requirements that ensure the security of the information on various types of media. These requirements are defined by:

  • Type of media or information asset;
  • Classification of information contained on those assets; and
  • Industry standard disposal or destruction techniques appropriate to the type of media (Nielsen policy aligns with the current National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, requirements).

Third-Party Vendor Requirements

  • Vendors undergo a security risk assessment process to validate that they can meet Nielsen’s Information Security requirements;
  • Vendors must provide certificates of disposal or destruction for assets;
  • Vendors are contractually required to comply with requirements of the Nielsen Information Security Policy;
  • Vendors are contractually required to abide by all regulations pertaining to appropriate disposal or destruction of assets in the specific city, country or region the service is provided;
  • Vendors retained by Nielsen to assist in the transfer, disposal or sanitization of equipment or media must comply with the terms of our third-party vendor requirements in this area; and
  • Nielsen’s Request for Proposals (RFPs) include a section on sustainability to evaluate our potential supplier’s commitment to the environment as part of our standard contract review.

Other Waste

Our comprehensive waste management programs make focused efforts to increase recycling and composting across Nielsen offices. Additionally, Nielsen has specific programs to reduce our paper waste, such as our global duplex, or double-sided, printing initiative. This initiative has shown a decrease of overall paper usage in North America by 5% since 2013, a reduction of over one million sheets of paper. Compared to 2014, according to Iron Mountain based on data calculated by Quantis, we reduced the amount of paper recycled in North America by 25.89 tons and 37,498.9 lbs. of CO₂.

In 2014, our North America expense reporting process was moved online to avoid the use of paper receipts. A year in, more than half of all expenses in North America are processed online. We continue to focus on moving this process to zero paper usage.

Electricity/Power Management

We promote better building energy performance through innovative strategies, like reducing the environmental footprint of our data centers.

For new leases, we continue to drive focus on identifying more energy-efficient spaces such as those that use LED lighting.

Materials and Resources

We encourage the use of sustainable building materials, such as the use of furniture and carpets made from recycled materials.


We reduce our carbon emissions by focusing on ways to cut, optimize and offset our business travel. Nielsen leverages virtual meeting technology through teleconferencing in order to enable teams to meet virtually whenever possible.  There has been a 9% reduction in travel and the associated carbon, between 2014 and 2015.


We spread knowledge and awareness by educating colleagues and vendors on the urgent need for action in promoting environmental sustainability. We are continually rethinking our collaborative partnerships to ensure that we are all acting as efficiently as possible.

Water Management

We promote smarter and more efficient use of water through controlled or reduced consumption.

Indoor Environmental Quality

We maintain productive workspaces for all employees, through better indoor air quality and unobstructed access to daylight. This commitment is part of every aspect of our offices, including using low or no volatile organic compound (VOC) cleaning supplies to ensure reduced concentrations of air pollutants everywhere we operate.

Public Research

Nielsen conducts research for clients about environmental perceptions, issues and concerns. This information helps our clients more effectively develop products, services, partnerships and internal actions that consider environmental impact. An example of environment-related research from 2015 is our global report, The Sustainability Imperative, a thought leadership piece that focuses on the sustainable behaviors adopted by consumers and how businesses can react strategically by offering more products aligned with positive social and environmental impacts.

2015 Environmental Data

Coverage for all data is explained within each section below for carbon emissions, electricity consumption, landfill waste generation and travel in 2015.

Data for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions along with electricity consumption have been verified by an external provider; the verification statement is included in the Appendix.

Carbon Emissions

Nielsen utilizes the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) to report its carbon impact. As previously discussed, data collection is in its early stages, expected to significantly change and expand in the coming years. In 2015, we are only reporting Scope 1 and 2 due to constraints in data collection. The scope and boundary of the data is explained below.

Scope 1 emissions are primarily from natural gas used to heat and cool Nielsen’s operations. In 2015, Nielsen’s scope 1 emissions totaled 1,940.00 CO2e metric tonnes, representing 1,196,488 square feet. This represents data collected from select Nielsen facilities in North America, excluding Nielsen square footage that is subleased to others. This square footage represents 22% of Nielsen’s total global square footage.

Scope 2 emissions primarily represent electricity use at Nielsen facilities. In 2015, Nielsen’s scope 2 emissions totaled 30,927.30 CO2e metric tonnes, representing 1,919,202 square feet. This square footage represents data collected from select Nielsen facilities in North America, excluding Nielsen square footage that is subleased to others. This represents 35% of Nielsen’s total global square footage.

Electricity Consumption

In 2015, Nielsen’s total electricity consumption was 83,503,092.43 kilowatt hours (KWH), representing 1,919,202 square feet. This square footage represents data collected from select Nielsen facilities in North America, excluding Nielsen square footage that is subleased to others. This represents 35% of Nielsen’s total global square footage.

Landfill Waste Generation

Nielsen’s reported waste metric consists primarily of landfill waste, excluding composting and recycling. In locations where recycling/composting is not set up or separated, all waste is assumed to be landfill. In 2015, Nielsen’s total waste was 74.74 short tons, representing 171,153 square feet. This square footage represents data collected from select Nielsen facilities in North America, excluding Nielsen square footage that is subleased to others. This represents 3% of Nielsen’s total global square footage.


Nielsen’s total mileage for business travel in 2015 was 92,547,364 miles with carbon emissions (in kg) of 16,658,525. This represents a decrease in total mileage from 2014 of 101,414,400 miles with carbon emissions (in kg) of 18,248,863. This travel data represents mileage data available through American Express, including all tools used by Nielsen employees to arrange business travel globally.

Data Center Updates and Consolidations Yield Green Results


Data centers are one of the major sources of Nielsen’s environmental impact due to their energy consumption. In 2015, we began a multi-year plan to upgrade data storage technology and consolidate operations—all with an eye on long-term performance improvements, emissions reductions and cost savings. Components of this initiative include:

Upgrade to all-flash storage

Compared to the traditionally bulky spinning disk storage, all-flash storage uses less power, has greater capacity in less floor space and requires less cooling. In 2015, Nielsen began the migration to all-flash storage in three primary U.S. data centers. For the systems migrated to all-flash storage, the benefits of the conversion were clear: 70% reduction in maintenance costs, 90% reduction in floor space requirements and 50% improvement in performance. Environmental benefits included an estimated 691,000 lbs. in avoided CO₂ emissions annually. These upgrades represent 10% of Nielsen’s total data storage footprint and we aim to transform the rest of our global storage facilities over the next four years.

Facility consolidation

Acquisitions, aging technology, limited expansion space—these are just a few of the reasons why Nielsen strategically consolidates data centers around the world. In 2015, data centers in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines were consolidated into the Hong Kong regional center. This eliminated 73 servers, avoiding annual CO₂ emissions of almost 200,000 lbs.

Similarly, data centers in Argentina and Chile were moved to the Americas regional data center in the U.S., eliminating 63 servers and avoiding almost 400,000 lbs. of annual CO₂ emissions.  Also in the U.S., the San Francisco data center consolidated, virtualized and moved to Lebanon, Ohio, eliminating over 100 servers and avoiding more than 1 million lbs. of CO₂ emissions annually.

Altogether, data center consolidation projects resulted in the avoidance of CO₂ emissions that are equivalent to taking more than 300 cars off the road for a year.

Caricuao NGID

Nielsen Employees: 2015 Environmental Initiatives

Nielsen Green Teams, led and organized by Nielsen employee volunteers, initiated both local and national programs around the world to cut waste, reduce resource usage and promote conservation. In 2015, some of these initiatives included:

  • More than 30,000 employees participated in Earth Week in 2015, a week of sustainable activities to promote green awareness, impact and advocacy.
  • In San Juan, Puerto Rico, an electric suppressor was installed in the office, reducing energy consumption and billing. Cost savings between November 2014 and November 2015 equaled $43,213.16, with energy savings of 89,488 kilowatt hours (kwh).
  • In Oldsmar, Florida, a “Haz-to-go E-cycling event” attracted 70 participants who delivered 5,300 pounds of waste for recycling.
  • In Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, volunteers cleaned local walking/biking trails to raise awareness for environmental concerns.
  • Offices in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panamá have collaborated to move from paper cups to reusable cups.
  • Battery recycling in Moscow and New York City, among other locations, focuses on managing the improper disposal of batteries by placing bins in the office to collect and dispose of them more efficiently.
  • LED bulbs have made office and desk lighting more efficient in Lisbon and Moscow offices.
  • A “Reuse Single-Side Print Campaign” in Malaysia focused on collecting all single-side printed paper for reuse in the office.
  • A focus on sustainable janitorial services in San Francisco led the office to change vendors to ensure that only Green Seal-certified sustainable cleaning products are used in the office building.
  • Water aerators in Sao Paulo were installed on all faucets of the bathrooms, reducing the water pressure and therefore saving water.
  • The Cincinnati office has been given the designation of “Transit Friendly Destination” under the ‘Green Umbrella,’ a group of nearly 250 governments and corporate and nonprofit organizations throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Nielsen Green Team

Climate Change Research: COP21

In 2015, representatives of 195 countries signed an historic agreement to address climate change by capping emissions and acting to keep the inherent temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. This agreement, which goes into effect in 2020, was known as the COP21. In conjunction with the COP21 conference, Nielsen worked on Scenario 2015, a survey of 6,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 in 12 countries around the world, giving them a chance to voice their opinions about climate and their job situations. The results were shared during COP21 in Paris. The research showed that young people tend to see climate change more as an opportunity (60%) rather than a threat (40%) for social and economic development. For example, nine out of 10 young people believe that job markets will transform due to climate change: a majority of them (83%) believes that these changes will lead to the creation of new jobs rather than the elimination of existing positions (59%). The Scenario 2015 project was carried out by Nomadeis, a sustainable development consulting firm, in conjunction with AXA and Nielsen, with further support from Mazars and Saint-Gobain. It also received the COP21 label granted by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

updated COP21 photo