MOD exceeds energy reduction target

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The MOD has reduced energy consumption on its office estate over the last 12 months by 14.8 per cent, saving over 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), it has been announced today

The reduction follows a commitment by Prime Minister David Cameron in May 2010 for central government to reduce its carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.

The Cabinet Office and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced today that the government has achieved this target, saving a total of 13.8 per cent.

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan, said today:

Achieving 14.8 per cent against the Prime Minister’s commitment to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent in 12 months is a fantastic achievement for MOD, and I would like to thank the sites involved for their hard work and initiative in making this happen.

This achievement is doubly valuable since reducing energy use saves money as well as cutting carbon emissions.

The 10 per cent target spanned 3,000 central government office buildings - everything from Whitehall headquarters to Jobcentre Plus Offices, Her Majesty’s 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.

How MOD set out to meet the challenge

10 per cent may not sound like much, but, in actual fact, for a department as large as MOD, it is a whole lot of energy. Reducing our energy by this much saves around 6,000 tonnes of CO2 or, in our case, an actual achievement of 9,000 tonnes of CO2, which is approximately the equivalent of heating 3,000 average three-bedroom semi-detached houses for a year.

As the commitment applied to central government offices, for MOD this covered 25 key sites. Heads of Establishment/Commanding Officers at each site were responsible for deciding how to meet the target and for implementing and communicating specific measures at local level.

A central programme team consisting of Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Director Business Resilience Sustainable Development staff provided direction and advice and co-ordinated efforts across the department. Two workshops were held for representatives of the sites so that they could share best practice and learn from each other’s experiences. This helped find solutions to problems and generate and spread new ideas.

Some of the actions implemented by the sites included:

  • adjusting heating and cooling temperatures, and the times at which these come on and go off
  • reducing unnecessary lighting internally and externally
  • fitting movement-activated sensors to lights
  • installing energy efficient boilers
  • improvements to insulation in buildings
  • reducing the number of lifts in action in quieter areas
  • putting timers on hot water boilers to shut them off when not in use
  • removing personal electrical equipment such as desktop fans and heaters
  • replacing existing light bulbs with energy saving ones
  • implementing weekend and holiday shutdowns (turning off heating, lights etc as much as possible).

How staff contributed

Staff contribution has been vital, and word was spread throughout the sites using e-mail, display stands, noticeboards and posters, as well as articles in newsletters to explain the target and how everyone could get involved. At some sites, staff volunteered as energy wardens or green champions to raise awareness of the project, report issues and disseminate information to colleagues. This was invaluable, particularly in the depths of a very cold winter when heating controls had been turned down. They also helped reassure colleagues about non-functioning lights, lifts and vending machines that had in fact been turned off to save energy.

Staff on all the sites made big contributions in a number of other ways, including:

  • turning off monitors at the end of the day or when away from their desks for long periods of time
  • switching off lights, printers and faxes when going home
  • only printing when necessary and printing double-sided
  • responding positively to energy saving changes such as changes to temperature controls.

Security guards and orderlies also got involved by conducting end of day checks as they did their rounds, either switching off lights/equipment or reporting where these had been left on. They also adjusted their walk-rounds where possible to minimise the times the automatic light sensors came on.

The way forward

The Cabinet Office and DECC have just announced a new carbon target for the government estate to reduce emissions by 25 per cent by 2015. This new target will cover a wider scope of the government estate and include business-related transport emissions which, along with the previously announced new waste, water and sustainable procurement targets, reinforces its pledge to be the ‘greenest government ever’.

More detailed information on the 25 per cent target will be coming soon from DIO, but other targets are already included in the 2011-2015 Delivery Plan in the MOD’s new Sustainable Development Strategy as published in May 2011. The strategy also outlines longer term direction on what Defence needs to do to become increasingly sustainable.