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Departmental Buildings

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his Department’s policy is on improving the energy efficiency of the buildings which it (a) rents and (b) owns; what changes there have been in the energy efficiency of such buildings in the last (i) five and (ii) 10 years; and whether his Department has adopted targets on energy efficiency improvements in the buildings it occupies over the next (A) five and (B) 10 years; (221090)

(2) what account his Department takes of the level of energy efficiency of buildings before entering into agreements to (a) rent and (b) purchase those buildings.

The Department is working to meet the energy efficiency targets within the targets for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) and that is to increase energy efficiency per m2 by 15 per cent. by 2010 relative to 1999-2000 levels. In the Department’s case this would equate to 260.1 kWh/m2.

The following table provides the performance of the Department against the energy efficiency target:























The figures from 1998 to 2002 are compiled from data for the former Department for Social Security and Employment Service. Figures for 2007-08 are subject to confirmation.

The Department acquires fully serviced accommodation from Land Securities Trillium (LST) under PFI—private finance initiative—arrangements. Any new space the Department requires is identified, acquired, managed and operated by LST to meet the Department’s needs. The improved energy efficiency of our total operations is one of a range of issues that is considered in the acquisition of new space. Ease of access for customers and the requirements for highly efficient office space (both existing and new build) are among other criteria.

Energy efficiency is incentivised within the PFI arrangement and is incorporated also within the Department’s Estate Strategy. Specific measures to improve efficiency are detailed within the Department’s three year Sustainable Development Action Plan, which is incorporated within its Sustainable Development Annual Report for 2007.

While the Department’s increased use of IT and extended opening hours, to provide a better service to customers and improved facilities for staff, has impacted on our energy efficiency, a planned programme of work is in place to meet the carbon from offices and energy efficiency targets. The Department has secured investment for 41,000 ‘spend-to-save’ measures through its PFI arrangements and is installing Smart Meters in its largest 700 buildings to improve reporting and energy management. These measures, together with an intensive energy efficiency and communications campaign, have resulted in absolute carbon emission reductions of 10.8 per cent. in 2007-08. Their ongoing implementation, together with improved governance and a review of site plant and equipment, mean that the Department predicts a further reduction of 15 per cent. by 2011, meeting the Sustainable Operations target.