You are here: Sustainable Development in Government > What Government is doing > Greening Government > Greening Government Commitments

Greening Government Commitments

Our vision means that we must take action to significantly reduce the impact we have on our environment: cutting our waste, bringing down our water usage and making our procurement more sustainable. We have therefore agreed the commitments for greening Government operations and procurement detailed below.

Annual Report on Government Departments’ Progress against 2015 Targets in 2012-13
The second annual report on progress against the Greening Government Commitments was published in December 2013. More information and report available to download…
A brief report on the second annual report was published in SD Scene. Read more…

Annual Report on Government Departments’ Progress against 2015 Targets in 2011-12
The first annual report on progress against the Greening Government Commitments was published in December 2012. More information and report available to download…

To reduce our environmental impact, by 2015 the Government will:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from a 09/10 baseline from the whole estate and business-related transport
    1. cut carbon emissions from Central Government offices by 10% in 2010/11 and all ministerial HQs to publish online real time energy use information
    2. cut domestic business travel flights by 20% by 2015 from a 09/10 baseline.
  2. Reduce the amount of waste we generate by 25% from a 2009/10 baseline*
    1. Cut our paper use by 10% in 2011/12
    2. Government will go to market with a requirement for “closed loop” recycled paper in 2011, subject to approval from the Government’s Procurement Executive Board**
    3. Ensure that redundant ICT equipment is re-used (within government, the public sector or wider society) or responsibly recycled
  3. Reduce water consumption from a 2009/10 baseline, and report on office water use against best practice benchmarks***:
    1. ≥6 m3 water consumption per FTE poor practice
    2. 4m3 to 6m3 per FTE good practice
    3. ≤4m3 per FTE best practice
    4. % offices meeting best/good/poor practice benchmark.
  4. Ensure government buys more sustainable and efficient products and engages with its suppliers to understand and reduce the impacts of its supply chain:
    1. Embed the Government Buying Standards in departmental and centralised procurement contracts, within the context of Government’s overarching priorities of value for money and streamlining procurement processes
    2. Improve and publish data on our supply chain impacts, initially focussing on carbon, but also water and waste – setting detailed baselines for reducing these impacts

* This commitment will be subject to review to ensure that it is sufficiently challenging in light of the structural changes (i.e. reduced staff numbers and building closures) that will follow from the Spending Review. This will include further analysis of the costs and the benefits. The Government will also announce its ambitions for diverting waste from landfill following the outcomes of the Waste Policy Review to ensure that the ambition for Government’s action on waste is consistent with that set for the household and business sectors.

** This measure will be informed by a feasibility study to be completed in 2011.

*** For non-office water use departments will set their own water reduction targets focussing firstly on areas which are subject to water stress.

Government’s impact and ability to show leadership stretches beyond the headline commitments, for example through the way we promote and conserve biodiversity on our estate, and the standards we set for construction projects.  Departments will therefore be open and transparent  on the steps they are taking to address the following areas:

Climate Change Adaptation: steps taken to adapt the estate to a changing climate.

Biodiversity and Natural Environment: including action taken to promote, conserve and enhance biodiversity, including use of Biodiversity Action Plans or equivalent and the management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Procurement of food and catering services: including action taken within the context of overarching priorities of value for money and streamlining procurement, to encourage the procurement of food that meets British or equivalent production standards where this does not lead to an overall increase in costs; and to reduce the environmental impacts of food and catering services and support a healthy balanced diet.

Sustainable Construction: including the management of construction waste to best practice standards, the application of BRE’s Environmental Assessment Methodology, and the extent to which standards used at the London 2012 Games are being applied/exceeded.

People: including for example, reporting on social and environmental assessment of office re-locations, and action taken to promote staff wellbeing*.

* In addition to reporting on actions taken to promote staff wellbeing, staff volunteering is a priority within the work on Big Society, on which the Cabinet Office leads. In future, reporting on numbers of staff volunteering will be incorporated into departmental staff surveys and the data will be shared to inform this reporting process.

The 2009/10 performance data from the targets for the Sustainable Operations of the Government Estate will inform the baseline for these commitments. This data is available at SOGE performance data 2010.

For detail on the scope of coverage for these commitments please see Greening Government Commitments: operations and procurement Defra, February 2011 (pdf, 495KB).

Page last modified: 17 January, 2014

You may also be interested in:

Documents and downloads: