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New government to cut carbon footprint across Whitehall estate

The new Government’s commitment to reduce its own carbon footprint by 10 per cent could lead to an overhaul of air conditioning and heating systems across departments.

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition government signed up to the 10:10 carbon reduction commitment in its first week in power, committing to reducing carbon emissions by 10 per cent across its entire estate.

Several departments had already signed up to the commitment, with the Department for Energy and Climate Change having cut its energy use by nearly a third over the past year through an overhaul of its air conditioning system.

The department has saved 250 tonnes of carbon between October 2009 and March 2010.

A spokeswoman for DECC, which is the lead department on the policy to cut carbon emissions,
said it was likely that other departments would look to what DECC has done to achieve its cuts.

She said: “A number of changes have been made to the airconditioning system in 3 Whitehall
Place over the past 18 months.

“These have included installation of variable speed pumps to ensure that energy used by the pumps is in proportion to the cooling demand.

“Future works include the installation of passive infrared sensor controls of fan coil units in meeting rooms and cellular offices.”

Number 10 Downing Street also signed up to the commitment, introducing a series of measures
ranging from intelligent lighting systems to replacing a 40-year-old boiler.
The push towards green building

is expected to progress quickly under the watch of the new Secretary of State for Energy  and Climate Change, the Liberal Democrats’ Chris Huhne.

The Liberal Democrats had arguably the most extensive range of environmental commitments in its manifesto of all the three main parties, all of whom made a number of sustainability pledges.

Construction Products Association chief executive Michael Ankers said: “The Liberal Democrats are very pro-environment and the moves towards zero-carbon homes by 2016, and zero-carbon non-domestic buildings by the end of the decade, will be supported.”

Other green commitments of the new government include the establishment of a smart grid and the roll-out of smart meters.

The coalition will fully establish feed-in tariff systems in electricity while pursuing its own provision for home energy improvement paid for by savings from lower energy bills.

Home information packs have been scrapped, though energy performance certificates have been
retained. Along with DECC, the Foreign Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and 10 Downing Street had previously signed up to the pledge to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent, but now it will apply to the entire central government estate.

Measures have already been introduced at the Prime Ministers’ residence, ranging from intelligent lighting systems to an automated heating and cooling system.

The government estate covers 250,000 ha and is responsible for 1 per cent of UK carbon emissions or 600,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to the whole of Liverpool.

Combined Heat and Power Association director Graham Meeks said the new Government was
“absolutely right to start ‘at home’, securing carbon savings across the government estate”.

He added: “This is a positive start, but in truth the Government should be prepared to set even more aggressive targets. With the right level of ambition from this new government, we can build the low-carbon industry to deliver their goals.”