The last few months have been a busy time for the DECC Sustainability team, with lots of reporting on the 2011/12 financial year, and planning for future energy saving projects. With our 2011/12 sustainability performance now reported in our Annual Report & Accounts and having just achieved a new, improved Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating, it is a good time to reflect on our progress over the last few years.
When the department was created in October 2008, our London HQ building (3 Whitehall Place) had a lowly DEC rating of G – the worst possible. This was, frankly, quite embarrassing for DECC and we have worked hard to improve the building’s energy efficiency since then, cutting energy consumption by 60%, and emissions by 50%. As a result, the building achieved a C-rating on its Display Energy Certificate from July.
Similarly, with our other London building (55 Whitehall), we improved its rating to B, from a D-rating, in just nine months.
I am often asked how we achieved such a huge improvement in our energy efficiency. Obviously we would like other organisations to be able to follow our example, and so I have put together some case studies looking at projects we have undertaken in the last three years or so. I hope you find it interesting.
Probably our biggest individual project was the installation of a dedicated IT chiller in late 2010. Before this, the building always had one of its two main 60kW chillers running all the time, just to keep a handful of small server rooms cool. This consumed a lot of electricity, so we installed a dedicated 16kW chiller to cool our servers. This allows us to switch off the main chillers outside office hours, including evenings and weekends. The IT chiller has been in place for over a year and a half now, and played a major part in our reduced electricity consumption in 2011/12. We estimate that it has reduced our emissions by around 80 to 90 tonnes a year.
Not all of our projects have been so big – in fact a significant portion of our savings have come from making lots of small changes. The Building Management System (BMS) manages the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting in our London estate, and so controls most of our energy use. We have undertaken dozens of projects to improve these systems and the way they are managed, ranging from very small changes such as adjusting timing settings, to quite significant new bits of kit. Occupancy controls were installed in meeting rooms so that the lighting and air handling units only switch on when the room is occupied. LED lighting has been installed in most of the non-office areas of the building. Variable Speed Drives were installed on our heating and ventilation systems, so that they can use less energy at times of low demand. All in all the various changes to the HVAC and lighting systems have reduced our annual emissions by around 200 tonnes.
One of the most recent projects helping to reduce our emissions is the replacement of our printers in June. This involved replacing all of our network printers, photocopiers and scanners with faster, more powerful and more energy efficient devices. Although I would love to be able to take the credit for this work, it was actually managed by the department’s IT team, who are always looking for ways to make our IT more efficient and sustainable.
The new devices are multi-function (they can be used for scanning and photocopying as well as printing), and are also faster than our old printers. This allowed us to reduce the number of devices by more than 30%. They also reduce printing by around 10% by requiring staff to swipe their pass before they print – this ensures that documents are not printed and then left uncollected. The new printing system is expected to reduce our emissions by around 15 tonnes a year, and has a number of other benefits including a reduction in toner and paper costs and a reduction in waste paper.
With so many things going on, we have just updated our “Making DECC sustainable” page. This includes not only the new case studies document , but also a report on our progress towards the Government’s sustainability targets, and a revised version of our Carbon Management Plan.
Of course, we are not resting on our laurels when it comes to energy efficiency and emissions reduction – we have plans in place to further improve our performance and you can read about these in our recently revised Carbon Management Plan. We also have plans in place to reduce our water consumption and waste. Look out for future updates.