Making DECC sustainable
Since its creation on 3 October 2008, DECC has been engaged in an ambitious and wide-reaching programme to reduce its energy consumption and increase its overall sustainability. This has been very successful so far, with significant reductions in our emissions from the department’s estate and business travel. Emissions from our London HQ have been reduced by 50% in the last 3 years. We will not be resting on our laurels however – we have an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions even further, as well as targeting water and waste
Greening Government Commitments
The Greening Government Commitments are the UK government’s commitments for delivering sustainable operations and procurement for the current parliament (to 2014/15). More detail on the GGCs can be found on Defra’s Sustainable Development in Government website.
The scope of the department’s reporting for the GGCs is the combined data of core DECC and the core Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The table below shows our performance against the main GGC targets.
*The waste target was re-baselined in August 2012 from 196 tonnes to 228 tonnes to take account of missing data in the baseline year. Paper use figures are just for the NDA, as DECC have no baseline data for this target.
We have already exceeded the target level of savings for the targets on emissions, domestic flights and paper use, though we need to maintain this level and improve on it where possible. However, we have only achieved a 3% reduction in waste so far, and our water consumption is higher than in the baseline year. These targets will be a significant challenge, but we have plans in place to reduce both our water consumption and our waste..
Carbon management in DECC
DECC launched its first ever Carbon Management Plan in July 2011. This ambitious plan aims to cut carbon emissions from DECC’s estate and business travel by 25% by 2014/15 compared to 2009/10. We also aspire to a zero-carbon footprint from our estate by 2050, in line with the challenge for the rest of the UK built environment. The plan was developed with the help of the Carbon Trust as part of the Carbon Trust’s Central Government Carbon Management Service. It covers the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2015.
A year on from its publication we have taken the opportunity to review the Plan and our progress to date. The result is a revised Carbon Management Plan which reports our performance against the targets in the Plan, outlines our carbon reduction projects for the coming year and highlights key changes to the original Plan.
DECC has been implementing a carbon reduction plan since April 2009 and measuring progress on a monthly basis. The initiatives put in place have resulted in a significant and sustained improvement in energy performance. The energy consumption from our estate and operations has almost halved over the past three years and our carbon emissions have fallen by more than a third.
The graph below summarises the monthly carbon dioxide emissions from the DECC estate over the past four years (before DECC’s creation in October 2008 these buildings were occupied by other government departments). In 2011/12 our estate expanded to take on an extra building (55 Whitehall). Despite this we still managed to reduce the emissions from the estate overall by 10.4% in 2011/12.
The 10% challenge
On 14 May 2010, the Prime Minister committed central government to reducing its carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months. DECC worked hard to contribute to the achievement of this target, reducing its emissions by more than 21% over the target period, and contributing to a reduction across central Government of 13.8%.
DECC's real-time energy display
DECC’s real-time energy display went live in June 2010 – less than one month after the Prime Minister’s visit to the Department. Capturing electricity and gas use in our two London buildings, the online tool displays real-time energy information that is updated every five seconds. It provides an at-a-glance view of energy use over the last 24 hours. As more data has been collected, options for displaying the data in different ways – for example, to show electricity and gas consumption separately or to show information over longer periods of time – have been developed.
You can see the assumptions behind the tool and access the raw data collected on the Carbon Culture website. Look for the feedback link on the tool itself. The online tool has three main purposes: first, we want to be transparent about the amount and costs of the energy we use; second, we want the tool to provide a further incentive to reduce our energy use; third, we want the tool to demonstrate how easily others can use real-time information to make their own savings.
CarbonCulture at DECC was a pilot project looking at the use of technology to engage staff and stimulate behaviour change to reduce carbon emissions and drive sustainable outcomes. DECC piloted this innovative approach in partnership with behaviour change specialists at More Associates in 2010 and 2011. During this time a range of web-based engagement tools were developed and trialled including applications, games and a blog. A report providing more information on this project was published on 1st October 2012.
CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme
As a central Government department, DECC are a mandated participant in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. In the 2010/11 performance league table, DECC were joint 1st, but maintaining our position will be a huge challenge, especially as we had already reduced emissions in our London HQ by 34% in the two years before the start of the CRC.
Carbon Trust Standard
DECC has successfully achieved re-certification against the Carbon Trust Standard. DECC was originally awarded the Standard in October 2010 for our carbon reduction at 3 Whitehall Place and we have now increased the scope of our certification to include 55 Whitehall and have also added business related travel emissions.
The department demonstrated a 31.5% absolute reduction in our footprint, and was found to have exemplary energy management practices.
Display Energy Certificate (DEC) performance
Public buildings are required to display a Display Energy Certificate (full version attached), which represents actual energy use. The rating is calculated based on historical energy use throughout the previous 12 months and is represented as a letter between A and G, with A being the most efficient. It is also given a numerical score, which represents comparative energy efficiency. A typical score for a building like 3 Whitehall Place would be 100, which is the boundary between a D and an E. Further information can be found on the Communities and Local Government: Display Energy Certificates web pages.
3 Whitehall Place DEC rating
DECC’s HQ building, 3 Whitehall Place, has been awarded a new Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating. On moving into 3 Whitehall Place in Autumn 2008 we received a ‘G’ rating with a score of 165 but by July 2012 have improved to a ‘C’ rating with a score of 75. We have achieved this by cutting energy consumption by 60% over the past four years and slashing carbon emissions by half. This is even more impressive when you consider that staff numbers in the building have increased over the period - not something factored into DEC assessments where an empty building is treated much the same as a full one.
55 Whitehall DEC rating
55 Whitehall had a ‘D’ rating with a score of 79 when DECC took over the building at the beginning of April 2011. This has gone up to a B rating with a score of 49 from January. This improved rating reflects the basic energy saving measures we have introduced since taking control of the building which include reviewing and reprogramming building management controls including hot water delivery schedules, reprogramming zip taps, controls over radiator thermostats and adjusting passive infra red (PIR) controls. 55 Whitehall is a more energy efficient building than 3 Whitehall Place, right next door, as it is naturally ventilated (i.e. we rely on opening the windows in the summer rather than air conditioning).
The Government has made a commitment that Departments should only procure food, subject to no overall increase in costs, that meets UK or equivalent standards of production and should publish information on this. Catering is provided on DECC’s estate through a shared contract with Defra and data on the food procured through this contact is available on the Defra website.