By Claire West

A UK office has become the first public-sector organisation anywhere in the world to be certified carbon neutral under an internationally-recognised framework.

The British Trade and Cultural Office, Taipei (BTCO) in Taiwan is the first government-sector office in the world to be certified as carbon neutral under the PAS 2060 framework developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

Henry Bellingham, the Minister for Climate Change at the UK’s Foreign Office, said: "It is excellent news that a UK government office has become the first public-sector organisation anywhere in the world to be certified carbon neutral under an internationally-recognised framework. It’s especially appropriate because PAS 2060 was developed by a UK organisation, the British Standards Institution, to be the world’s first internationally-recognised carbon neutrality standard. BSI, like many British organisations, combines a strong history with an up-to-date and innovative approach which enables them to identify solutions to the new challenges we face today. UK innovation is driving low-carbon solutions for a new low-carbon world, through new types of services — like this certification — as well as new technologies."

Mr. Mark Basham, BSI’s Managing Direct of Asia Pacific, awarded the carbon-neutral certification to the BTCO at the ‘What Next? International Practical Experience of Carbon Management Seminar’, co-organised by the BTCO and Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.

David Campbell, Director of the BTCO, said: "The UK and Taiwan are working together closely on combating climate change. Because of the UK’s ambitious and legally-binding carbon reduction targets, the UK is emerging as an international hub for low carbon expertise and innovation, helping global businesses to shift to a low carbon future.Taiwan’s highly educated workforce and strengths in high-tech development make it well placed to take advantage of the global shift to a low-carbon economy. I am very pleased that UK companies and institutions are able to support Taiwan in these efforts.The UK government is taking a lead by cutting its own emissions. This certification is a sign of our commitment to this and will be a baseline for further work, including through the global 10:10 programme — we are already on the way to cutting our emissions by 10% in 2010. All the BTCO staff have made personal efforts to make sure that we can achieve this and I thank them for their enthusiasm."

Dr. Yi-Min Gao, Managing Director of BSI Taiwan said: "On behalf of BSI, the world leading standard organisation, I am very pleased to witness and take part in the BTCO’s carbon neutral process. The BTCO sets a good example for any other government organisations and businesses who wish make a difference in pursuing the low carbon future."

In recent years, the BTCO has held several seminars to showcase the UK’s expertise in carbon footprint management and other low-carbon sectors services, renewable energy, and green technology. These have been aimed at local business audiences, academics, officials and media. The BTCO will continue to work towards cutting its carbon emissions, and will share its carbon neutral experience with local audiences to demonstrate what can be done.

How the BTCO became carbon neutral
The BTCO’s carbon neutral certification is a two-stage process. In the first stage, with support from the Foundation of Taiwan Industry Service and from BSI in Taiwan, the BTCO office undertook a systematic greenhouse gas (GHG) emission audit, to establish a baseline GHG emission inventory for 2009. The BTCO received ISO14064-1:2006 certification (verifying that this inventory was correct) on 30 September 2010.

In the second stage, BTCO offset its 2009 GHG emissions, and is officially registered under Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). To gain the certification, the BTCO had to produce a carbon neutrality report following the BSI guidance, including making a firm commitment to reducing its emissions in future years. BSI Taiwan then conducted an on-site validation, including interviewing senior managers and staff.

What next?
The PAS 2060 certification commits the organisation to reducing its carbon emissions in future years. The BTCO has signed up to the international 10:10 campaign, and has been working to reduce emissions in 2010. During the verification, BSI confirmed that the BTCO was well on track to meet this target.

All staff at the BTCO have been involved in helping to achieve this, including through:
1. Raising the air con temperature to 26°C degrees
2. Reducing the use of office lighting, including by reconfiguring switches and installing motion sensors
3. Reducing use of paper and disposable equipment
4. Purchasing green products, from cleaning equipment to a hybrid car
5. Reducing air travel and switching to public transport where possible
6. Reducing water and electricity use