Government reduces its carbon emissions by 13.8% in 12 months

The Prime Minister announced on 14 May 2010 that this would be the ‘greenest government ever’ and that, as part of this, central government would reduce its carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months. The government has achieved this target, saving a total of 13.8%. Never before has central government achieved this level of reduction in such a short space of time.

This target spanned 3000 central government office buildings – everything from Whitehall headquarters to Jobcentre Plus Offices, HM Courts and Driving Test Centres. Over 300,000 civil servants played their part, and many made a personal contribution by changing their own behaviour, for example turning off lights and equipment when not needed.

Over the 12 months to 13 May 2011, government reduced carbon emissions from its office estate by 104,532 tonnes on the previous year (from a baseline of 764,141 tonnes CO2) - enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall 587 times over. The saving amounts to a reduction of nearly 238 million kilowatt hours in energy consumption, and we estimate that this will reduce government’s energy bills by £13 million this year.

When the data and the baseline are weather corrected, the total reduction is 103,316 tonnes against a baseline of 749,547 tonnes. Weather correction is a data process which eliminates the effect of unusually warm or cold weather.  It has been conducted independently of government, by the BRE, and is an accepted industry method for ensuring that energy performance can be evaluated independently of weather fluctuations.

The chart and table below show the pan-government position and the performance of departments through the reporting year.

This shows what is achievable if organisations focus on managing buildings more efficiently, making the best use of green technologies and mobilising 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, including:

  • 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 such as 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 such as 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.

Achievement of this target sets government on an excellent footing to approach the new commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2014/15 across a much broader scope both in coverage of departments’ and their arms length bodies’ buildings and including emissions from business related transport.

Further details on the 10% programme (including a short film on how Government achieved the 10% target, the end of programme report, and information on scope and the weather correction process) are available from the links below.

Chart of profiled usage

this information is also available as a CSV file below