Embedding sustainable development across Government, after the Secretary of State’s announcement on the future of the Sustainable Development Commission

Written evidence submitted by the House of Commons Management Board


1 This memorandum provides a summary of 2009/10 Parliamentary environmental performance and plans to reduce the environmental impact of Parliament. It also provides an update on the memorandum submitted by the Management Board as evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Sixth Report of Session 2008-09, Greening Government.


2 In March 2009, Parliament’s high level environmental strategy was developed and approved by the House of Commons Commission, the House of Lords House Committee, and the Management Boards of both Houses. A joint policy statement setting out the arrangements for environmental management and high level commitments to continuous environmental improvement was approved by the Commons Management Board in December 2009 and endorsed by the Commission in January 2010 (Annex A). The policy was subject to review by internal stakeholders and external review by the Sustainable Development Commission.

3 Whilst Parliament is not covered by Government’s Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) framework, the 2009/10 Parliamentary environmental targets drew on the SOGE targets with specific focus on short term performance improvements. Following independent verification of baseline data and an assessment of environmental opportunities longer term, strategic targets have been set for 2010/11 and 2020/21.

4 An environmental improvement plan was developed to ensure Parliament meets its short term environmental targets. In line with good practice, departments were requested to include preliminary environmental objectives into their 2010/11 business plans.

5 At the end of 2009/10, and for the first time, Parliament reported an annual reduction in its carbon dioxide emissions resulting from energy use, reduction in water consumption and waste generation, as well as an increase in the total percentage of waste recycled.

Environmental Performance

6 In March 2009 environmental goals were proposed to the Commons Management Board. In this initial year of environmental performance assessment these goals were distinct from formal targets, in recognition of concerns regarding the validity of baseline data and uncertainty regarding the extent of the Houses’ ability to improve performance. The goals for 2009/10 were drawn up after discussion with the Sustainable Development Commission, and were:

• To reduce Parliament’s carbon footprint from energy and utility consumption by 3%, relative to 2008/09

• To reduce water consumption by 2%, relative to 2008/09

• To reduce waste generated by 5%, relative to 2008/09

• To recycle 50% of waste generated by volume

7 Performance against the 2009/10 goals and targets has been presented monthly to the Management Board. As part of its balanced scorecard, monthly performance data is provided on carbon emissions, electricity, gas and water consumption, waste generation and the recycling rate. This reporting process has proved robust.

8 Performance in 2009/10 was positive with all goals met and, for the first time, Parliament recorded a year on year reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. We achieved:

• A 3% reduction in absolute carbon dioxide emissions as compared to 2008/09, including a 1% reduction in weather corrected energy consumption and a 9% reduction in weather corrected gas consumption

• A 10% reduction in water consumption per m2 of estate area, as compared to 2008/09

• A 13% reduction in waste generated per person as compared to 2008/09

• A 56% waste recycling rate

Further details of 2009/10 performance are shown at Annex B.

9 The House continued in its aim to source electricity from renewable sources to the maximum available, and over 99% of the electricity used is from green tariffs. However, to better reflect changes in energy efficiency rather than purchasing, average carbon factors are used for the purposes of reporting our emissions from energy use.

Future Targets

10 Parliament’s environmental impacts were identified and prioritised at staff workshops in summer 2009. The significant environmental impacts were identified as energy consumption, resource use, waste generation, pollution and wildlife management. Parliament’s policy and strategy are based on the management of these areas. To ensure that the correct focus and prioritisation were applied, the policy and strategy were subjected to DEFRA’s Stretching the Web tool [1] which positively confirmed the approach being taken.

11 Following independent validation of baseline performance data and completion of an environmental opportunities assessment in 2009/10, short term (2010/11) and long term (2020/21) targets, based on wider UK commitments, best practice and Parliament’s operating arrangements, have been set and approved by the Management Board and the Commission (and by the Lords Management Board and House Committee). To provide assurance of the robust nature of Parliamentary environmental performance data and in line with best practice, independent validation was sought for our previous baseline data (1999/2000), and 2008/09 data (new baseline). The successful validation of the 2008/09 data provided assurance that this could be effectively used as a baseline year for short and long term targets. Data for future years will be subjected to the same level of independent validation. These new targets include:

• To reduce carbon emissions (resulting from energy consumption) by 7% by 2010/11 and by 34% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09

• To reduce water consumption by 12% by 2010/11 and by 25% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09

• To reduce the volume of waste generated by 10% by 2010/11 and by 25% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09

• To recycle 60% of waste generated by weight by 2010/11 and 75% by 2020/21

The full list of 2010/11 Parliamentary Environmental targets is set out in Annex C.

12 Looking forward, the House recognises that improving performance against these targets requires not only physical changes to the fixed assets of the Parliamentary Estate, but also behavioural change of those who use the Estate to achieve more sustainable outcomes. Work to develop a strategy to achieve this, which will provide further reductions in environmental impact of Houses’ activities, continues.

External Communications

13 In 2009 Parliamentary environmental performance was reported publicly for the first time as a memorandum submitted to the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee as part of their Greening Government inquiry. This provided a summary of Parliament’s environmental performance in 2008/09 and plans to reduce impacts further. As part of the environmental policy statement, the Houses have agreed to report publicly on environmental performance in accordance with environmental and financial reporting best practice.

Looking Forward

14 The Management Board continues to recognise that the activities of the House of Commons have a significant environmental impact. The 2010/11 Corporate Business Plan recognises the expectation that we should improve our environmental performance, with a strategic objective of increased and demonstrable value for money and environmental sustainability in the services we deliver.

15 The recently introduced Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (previously known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment) requires public and private organisations to report on their carbon emissions. Whilst Parliament is not covered by the scheme, the Finance and Service Committee have expressed an interest in Parliament mirroring the requirement to report annual carbon emissions publicly. It is currently proposed that this will be completed in 2010/11 by reporting in line with the recently formalised HM Treasury Guidance for Government Departments on Sustainability Reporting [1] after the end of the current financial year.

16 The 2010/11 environmental improvement plan, supporting the delivery of the 2010/11 Parliamentary targets, is based on the output of an independent, Estate-wide environmental opportunities assessment. Budgets have been approved for the improvement actions identified in the plan and additional staff resources allocated to the House’s Environment Section.

17 The 2010/11 environmental improvement plan will further focus efforts on improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions through modifications to the building management system, voltage optimisation and transformer tapping, continuation of the successful lighting replacement programme, server virtualisation, a behavioural change programme and a pilot of roof insulation materials suitable for use within heritage buildings such as the Palace.




Both Houses are committed to improving the sustainability of their activities and operations and leading by example, for the benefit of the environment and society as a whole.

This policy statement applies to the activities of both Houses of Parliament and Parliamentary ICT. It outlines Parliament’s priority actions to deliver sustainability. Sustainability and environmental improvements are to be integrated into business planning and decision making to ensure that sustainability is not separate from core business but forms part of a balanced overall strategy to achieve Parliament’s goals and objectives.

Parliament already seeks to observe the wider principles of corporate responsibility, of which environmental sustainability is one aspect; for example maintaining the heritage and integrity of the Parliamentary estate, ensuring the highest levels of staff and Member welfare, ensuring people are treated fairly and inclusively, promoting public understanding of the work and role of Parliament and procuring goods and services in a fair manner within procurement rules, including fair trade products where appropriate. Parliament will focus on environmental improvement in the immediate future as the area of greatest opportunity and potential impact.

The Clerk of the House of Commons and the Clerk of the Parliaments are responsible for environmental management by their respective House Services. Strategic environmental management and responsibility for the implementation of this policy has been delegated, through the Director General of Facilities in the House of Commons and the Reading Clerk in the House of Lords, to the Head of Fire Safety and Environment in the Parliamentary Estates Directorate.

All managers are responsible for environmental management in their area of responsibility. All staff shall follow the principles of the policy statement to assist in meeting the sustainability commitments identified in the policy statement.

The policy statement will be communicated to all staff, Members and Members’ staff. The current version of the policy statement and associated environmental strategy documents detailing Parliament’s environmental arrangements will be posted on the environmental pages on the intranet. The policy statement will be made available to the public.


Both House Services and Parliamentary ICT are committed to working together to achieve continuous improvement of the sustainability performance of Parliamentary activities and that of their supply chains. This is wholly consistent with achieving value for money and will benefit Members, Members’ staff, House staff, visitors and other members of society. Parliament aims to comply with all applicable legislation, codes and good practice pertaining to sustainability. In particular, Parliament will focus on:

- Maintaining a system and framework to manage and improve environmental sustainability performance

- Implementing an annual environmental sustainability improvement plan

- Ensuring provision of adequate resources to deliver sustainability improvements

- Securing the co-operation and involvement of staff, Members, Members’ staff and the Trade Union Side in environmental management

- Improving employee environmental awareness, engagement and competency

- Reducing Parliament’s environmental impacts by:

- Reducing carbon emissions and the consumption of energy and water

- Conserving natural resources and minimising the use of harmful substances

- Minimising waste generation, and disposal to landfill by reuse and recycling

- Preventing pollution and reducing emissions

- Managing wildlife for the benefit of the Parliamentary Estate

- Addressing climate change through adaptation and mitigation

Parliament will produce an action plan and set targets to ensure these commitments are turned into results.

Sustainability performance and effectiveness of management arrangements will be regularly monitored and reviewed. Independent assurance of annual environmental performance data will be obtained. An annual management review will be provided to the Management Boards and performance information made publicly available. Revisions to the policy statement will be submitted to the Clerks of the two Houses for their approval.

Clerk of the House of Commons Clerk of the Parliaments

Date: Date:

This policy is endorsed and supported by the House of Commons Commission and the House Committee of the House of Lords.






To deliver the action plan for Greening Parliament.


The action plan has been endorsed by the Management Boards.

To reduce Parliament’s carbon footprint from energy and utility consumption relative to 2008/09

3.7% decrease

In 2008/09 absolute carbon dioxide emissions from energy used on the Parliamentary Estate were 22,184 tonnes. This reduced to 21,490 in 2009/10. The main contributor to this reduction was an improvement of 19% at Portcullis house, as a result of improvements in control of the Building Management System.

To develop an energy and utility improvement plan identifying options for renewable energy and combined heat and power generation and reducing energy and utilities consumption.


Following a programme of energy surveys and audits carried out by independent consultants, a detailed improvement plan with a series of recommended measures has been produced for each building on the Parliamentary Estate.

To review and challenge Parliament’s display energy certificates with the aim of improving 2009 energy ratings


Further improvements in ratings are anticipated for 2010 with a review of the operating hours applied in calculation of the ratings to better reflect the actual pattern of building use.

To reduce water consumption by 2%, relative to 2008/09

4% decrease

The 4% decrease represents a reduction in the amount of water used to 309,785m3 in 2009/10, compared with 322,393m3 in 2008/09.

In addition, a 13% reduction in water consumption was achieved at the Palace of Westminster as a consequence of the improvements to the cooling towers.

To develop a waste improvement plan identifying options to reduce waste generation and improve recycling rates.

Following a programme of waste audits, carried out by independent consultants, a detailed waste improvement plan with a series of recommended measures has been produced for the Parliamentary Estate.

To recycle 50% of waste in 2009/10

57% recycled

A recycling rate of 57% was achieved in 2009/10. In addition, the weight of waste generated in 2009/10 fell by 12% compared with 2008/09.

All general waste generated on the Parliamentary Estate is either recycled or diverted from landfill through disposal to incinerators generating energy from waste.

To ensure all major Parliamentary Estate projects specify environmental requirements.


All business cases for new projects require approval by the Environment Section.

To achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for new builds and major refurbishments and ‘Very Good’ rating for major refurbishments of heritage/listed buildings.


The design for the refurbishment of the Millbank Island site achieved a Very Good BREEAM rating. This was the only project that required a BREEAM assessment in 2009/10.

To identify the threats and opportunities of climate change on Parliament’s activities and services.


An assessment of the impact of climate change has been carried out and forms part of the Risk Register for the Parliamentary Estates Directorate



Carbon, energy and utilities:

· To reduce carbon emissions by 7% by 2010/11 and by 34% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09.

· to source a maximum volume of electricity from renewable sources

· To reduce water consumption by 12% by 2010/11 and by 25% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09.


· To reduce the volume of waste generated by 10% by 2010/11 and by 25% by 2020/21, relative to 2008/09.

· To recycle 60% of waste generated by weight by 2010/11 and 75 % by 2020/21.

Procurement and projects:

· To ensure all major Parliamentary Estates projects specify environmental requirements.

· To achieve BREEAM [1] ‘Excellent’ rating for new builds and major refurbishments and ‘Very Good’ rating for major refurbishments of heritage/listed buildings.

Climate change adaptation:

· To identify the threats and opportunities of climate change on Parliament’s activities and services.

10 December 2010

[1] http://stretchingtheweb.defra.gov.uk/

[1] HM Treasury, Public Sector Annual Reports: Sustainability Reporting. June 2010.

[1] BREEAM – Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method