Sustainability at the Home Office

The Home Office’s commitment to Open Data is a great example of how to implement sustainability in a large organisation

EcoDriver

The Home Office has made a number of improvements to its London headquarters to reduce its environmental impact, including wall insulation, more efficient heating pumps and voltage optimisation.

However, the outstanding feature from amee’s perspective is its clear commitment to Open Data, demonstrated with the real-time consumption dashboard provided by ecoDriver [see picture].

You can flick from last year’s electricity consumption to the last half hour’s, from electricity to gas, and from water to waste.

This allows energy enthusiasts and data junkies to ask all sorts of fascinating questions like “What was the building’s energy use at the same time last year” and  “Why did the Home Office use 4,000 kWh more than average last Thursday?” (possible answer: highs of 26C resulted in more air conditioning).

You can also check what these figures mean in terms of emissions and (crucially) financial cost – in 2012 the Home Office spent £67,000 on electricity alone!  

Displaying water and waste data is particularly impressive as most organisations have only recently started to prioritise these metrics. Whilst the Home Office data excludes collections by local authorities and electrical waste, these estimations are nevertheless a good start.

There are other interesting features to the dashboards, for example a footprint per employee tab and a league table, ranked by kWh/employee, covering the various buildings that ecoDriver monitor.

And what’s more, it’s been up and running since May 2010 – a great achievement.

2 MArsham St

The electricity footprint of Home Office employees

Why is this important?

Well, while many of us are concerned about rising fuel bills at home, most people don’t pay much attention to how much energy they use at work. After all, it’s seemingly endless, not to mention ‘free’!

But tell people that in addition to their monthly domestic energy bill they technically owe another £13.99/month and they might start to think that there’s a cost to all energy, not just at home. 

This isn’t to say that that if people know their energy footprint they’ll suddenly change their behaviour (in an office environment personal energy saving opportunities may be limited anyway), but unless people are properly informed they will never change.

We all need to be made aware of our energy (and water) use. It needs to be present and working on our subconscious!

For building managers it enables much more informed decision making about the energy strategy, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Home Office reduced its emissions by 17% in 2012 – above the Government’s average reduction target of 14%. 

Another positive from making energy data open is that it clearly demonstrates which organisations are taking steps to reduce their impact and which are making progress.

That’s why the live energy dashboard at the Home Office is a great step forward and one that every building should have.

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