Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further Explanatory Memorandum from the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions (EST 98B)

  As I mentioned to you, unfortunately the annex on accounting officer responsibilities and the copy of the press notice which is referred to in Part V: Energy use on the Government Estate, were omitted from your copies of the Memorandum.

Helen Kelly

Finance Programmes


  The Government estate is progressing towards achieving the target of a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency in the nine years to 31 March 2000, Energy Efficiency Minister Angela Eagle said today.

  New performance indicators, which for the first time would enable comparisons with independent standards of good practice, are also being drawn up, she said.

  In answer to a written Parliamentary Question from William Etherington (MP), Sunderland North, Ms Eagle said:

    "By 31 March 1997, energy efficiency in Government Departments had improved by just over 15 per cent since 1990-91.

  "Full details are given in the attached tables; the overall improvement is shown in Table 4. The tables include revisions to figures for earlier years revealing better performance than previously reported. All results reported here relate to periods before this administration took office. Energy management in individual Department is a matter for those Departments and their Green Minister. The Government aims to be at the forefront of good practice to improve energy efficiency, and will be looking to ensure that momentum is maintained through the strengthened role of Green Ministers under the Chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment. We are also working on the development of new performance indicators which will, for the first time, enable comparisons with independent standards of good practice across the economy.

    "The results for the former Department of the Environment in 1996-97 were affected by relocation and rationalisation of its accommodation in London and elsewhere. This resulted in the need to run a number of old and new buildings while changes took place. The department's two new headquarters buildings at Eland House and Ashdown House will be fully occupied by the end of March 1998. Both include a number of energy efficient measures including a combined heat and power system and a displacement cooling system."


  In 1990, the Government announced an energy efficiency target for the Government estate of 15 per cent savings in energy consumption in the five years to 31 March 1996. In December 1996 the target was extended to 20 per cent by 31 March 2000, measured from the same, 1990-91, baseline.

  The target is based on energy expenditure using constant prices and taking account of weather variations and changes in the estate. Progress of the initiative is shown in the last six columns of table 1 to the Parliamentary answer, and it is shown as "Total cost" in other tables.

  Additional indicators provide more information on carbon dioxide emissions and changes to fossil fuel and electricity consumption, as well as expenditure on energy and energy efficiency.

  The results for the former Department of the Environment for 1996-97 were affected by the process of relocation of several Government Offices and of its headquarters buildings and the consequent need to bear overlapping energy costs at some of them (such as at Marsham Street and Eland House: partially occupied from December 1996 but not fully occupied by 31 March 1997). A further headquarters building, Ashdown House, was undergoing refurbishment during the reporting period. Relocation from Marsham Street and Romney House is now almost complete, and the Department will have finally left these buildings by 31 March 1998. Whilst the overall amount of occupied space fell by nearly 11 per cent during 1996-97 as a result of the accommodation changes the proportion of the former Department of the Environment's estate which is air-conditioned increased by about 9 per cent. However, the new headquarters buildings in particular also include energy efficient displacement ventilation and static cooling and heating systems.

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