You are here: Homepage > About Defra > About us > Environmental performance

Environmental performance

Energy use in Defra

In support of the Prime Minister’s commitment for this to be the greenest government ever, Defra is making real-time energy consumption data available for its main London headquarter building, Nobel House. All departments have committed to making energy consumption data available.

The online tool displays real-time energy information in units of energy, cost and carbon. As more data is collected it will become available in different formats, for example, for the past week, month and year.

What else have we been doing?

We’ve already made significant progress in reducing our carbon emissions. In 2008/09 we exceeded our target for our office estate by 6%, and have achieved an average 4% year-on-year reduction in CO2 since 2006.

That’s equivalent to 5500 tons of CO2.

In our London Headquarters office building, Nobel House, and more widely across our offices, we have taken the following action to reduce our energy consumption since the 10% target was announced.

  • We reduced the temperature range we heat our buildings to by 1 degree centigrade this October, something the Carbon Trust says can save 8% of energy a year.
  • We’ve adjusted the air-conditioning temperature in our server rooms
  • We’ve continued to replace inefficient lighting
  • We’ve made adjustments to our boiler settings and to the settings that control how air is circulated through our buildings
  • We are continuing to install more insulation and draft-proofing
  • We’ve been asking our staff for their ideas and tips for reducing energy consumption and reminding them of the simple things that they can do to help reduce the amount of energy they use.

In addition, we had already

  • installed equipment to reduce the voltage of the power that enters our buildings. 33 units have been installed so far saving 4000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
  • replaced inefficient lighting saving 30% on lighting costs, and so far 780 tonnes of CO2 a year.
  • installed Combined Heat and Power plants at our London HQ, and our laboratories in Weybridge and Sand Hutton (FERA). Electricity produced by a CHP plant produces a quarter less carbon emissions than energy generated from the grid.

Outside of our London Headquarters building:

  • We’ve piloted new technology to make heating boilers more efficient and this has delivered an average 10% reduction in gas consumption.
  • We have installed eight Biomass boilers across the estate. These burn woodchip instead of gas or oil, significantly reducing carbon emissions.
  • All major refurbishment projects and construction projects carried out by the department over the past five years have been designed to be as sustainable as possible. All of these projects have been showcases for Defra as a leader in sustainability and have won awards for their green credentials. These include: Nobel House (2006), Alnwick (2008), Kings Pool, York (2008) and the Weybourne building at Weybridge (2009).

What else are we doing?

  • We are continuing with our programme of replacing inefficient lighting with energy efficient systems.
  • We are installing a further 15 units that reduce the voltage of the power that enters our.
  • We are standardising the temperature in our buildings at set temperatures at different times of the year, and where possible setting more specific opening times for our buildings at the weekends and evening so energy is not wasted out of hours.
  • We are improving the insulation in our properties to reduce the heat wasted through windows, doors and from plant and machinery

Sustainable development in government

The Government is committed to leading by example in the way that  it manages its estate and operations.

Government has a significant contribution to make to sustainable development, not just through its policies and services, but also through all the support activities that go on every day.

Decisions about energy, water and waste management, and the goods and services departments buy, all say a great deal about the Government’s commitment to sustainable development.

All central Government Departments and their Executive Agencies to produce Sustainable Development Action Plans (SDAPs) and to report and update them regularly. Defra’s third SDAP sets out our actions until March 2011. We used the learning experiences from our second SDAP, published in November 2007, to develop this plan.

Page last modified: 9 November 2010