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Government achieves 13.8% reduction in carbon emissions

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on 6th July that central Government cut carbon emissions by 13.8% in the year following his May 2010 commitment to a 10% reduction.

Over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided across 3,000 buildings – from Whitehall headquarters to Jobcentre Plus Offices, HM Courts and Driving Test Centres – occupied by over 300,000 civil servants. An estimated £13 million has been saved on energy bills.

David Cameron welcomed the achievement and promised further reductions:

“A 13.8% cut in emissions in just one year is a great result and the civil service should be very proud of this achievement. But to be the greenest government ever we need to do more to stamp out energy waste in Whitehall, and make it easier for people and business to use energy more efficiently. That’s why I’m committing the Government to go further by reducing emissions by 25% by 2015.”

The Cabinet Office has published a short film and a report on how Government achieved the target:

The new commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2014/15 covers a broader range of departments’ and their arms length bodies’ buildings, and includes emissions from business related transport. It is part of the wider Greening Government Commitments on greenhouse gases, waste, water and sustainable procurement.

Managing to reduce

The Government’s report on the achievement of the 10% target argues that it demonstrates what can be achieved by organisations that manage buildings more efficiently, make the best use of green technologies and mobilise staff to take simple actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition to behaviour change, a range of measures were implemented to reduce energy use, all contributing to the carbon reduction:

  • Facilities management
    Improving controls over energy consumption, using building management systems to target excessive consumption, aligning operating temperatures for general office space and server rooms with best practice, shutting down buildings effectively over periods of low demand, etc);
  • Investing in energy efficient equipment
    Including voltage optimisation kit (which matches the electricity supply to that which is actually needed by appliances), boiler upgrades, variable speed drives, software upgrades to building management systems and energy efficient lighting;
  • “Greening ICT” measures
    Including activating settings to power down desktops when not in use, installing thin client (where computer processing is done centrally) and installing lower-energy monitors;
  • Estate rationalisation
    Efforts to concentrate accommodation in more energy-efficient buildings and reducing the m2 of office space per staff member;
  • Staff behaviour change
    Covering behaviour in lighting use, electrical appliances, kitchens, IT, and lift use;
  • On-site renewables
    A small proportion of the 10% carbon reduction was delivered through the installation of new on-site renewables such as biomass boilers and solar panels.
10% carbon reduction by initiative type

10% carbon reduction by initiative type

The report offers lessons from the year on the important prerequisites for any successful carbon reduction programme:

  • Establish the mandate, and demonstrate strong senior leadership throughout the project;
  • Put in place clear governance structures and strong central control; provide dedicated programme management;
  • Don’t micromanage but instead be flexible; adapt to local circumstances;
  • Ensure that data is accurate, timely and transparent;
  • Plan ahead and communicate effectively;
  • Ensure there is sufficient funding;
  • Engage staff; think about incentives to behaviour change;
  • Build in opportunities to monitor and evaluate outcomes.

Further reading

User comments

  1. Tannith Cattermole says:

    Interesting considering that BusinessGreen reported last week that Defra is facing a judicial review for breaking European pollution laws.

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