By Max Clarke

The Environment Agency today announced that it has cut its CO2 emissions by almost a fifth since 2006, saving the organisation some £6 million annually.

Other large companies and institutions are being urged to enact similar changes, for their own bottom lines and for the benefit of the environment.

“Big organisations often have a big environmental footprint,” said Environment Agency Chief Executive, Dr Paul Leinster. “Transport, energy and waste all contribute and need to be managed, measured and reduced. Those that do so effectively will reduce costs and improve their reputation.”

The organisation measures its environmental performance in five key areas, with ambitious 2015 targets set for each. New figures, in the Environment Agency’s first internal environment management update, show that the 2006-2011 performance on each is:

office waste — reduced by 18 per cent, 66 per cent less to landfill;

• mileage — reduced by 33 per cent, 19 million fewer miles per year;

• carbon dioxide — a 17 per cent reduction in emissions;

• buildings’ energy — a 15 per cent reduction in use;

• mains water — an 18 per cent reduction.

The majority of Britain’s biggest publicly-listed businesses are now disclosing some information about their environmental performance on an annual basis. But a recent Environment Agency study of more than 500 FTSE All-share companies showed that not enough companies are providing environmental statistics in line with Government guidance and that the quality of information is still very varied and in some cases basic. The agency urged companies to go further on environmental reporting following publication of the report.

“In the future,” continued Dr. Leinster, “we’ll see higher energy prices, more carbon reporting and greater competition for resources. Good environmental management helps address each and also helps to reduce our running costs. Our own experience shows that focusing on a few important measures, embedding them into every team and reporting to the Board each year are key to success.”

Large companies and public sector organisations have recently submitted their first Carbon Reduction Commitment footprint reports to government, summarising their energy efficiency performance in recent years. They will be compiled into a league table and published in October.

The Environment Agency’s internal environment management update shows the ways in which the reductions have been made. Cleaner vehicles have been introduced which has helped contribute to the reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Also, water saving technology has been installed in many of the agency’s buildings and this has resulted in 12,000 m3 less water being used than five years ago.

Vehicle mileage was reduced by helping staff make more sustainable travel choices. Office waste has been reduced through a combination of improved recycling facilities and awareness raising with staff.

Various other technologies have been introduced across the Environment Agency to reduce energy. Voltage optimisation is being used across 40 Environment Agency sites cutting energy use on average by eight per cent at those sites. This energy saving technique brings UK electrical equipment down to 220 Volts which it is designed for and this also improves the life of the equipment.

Automatic Meter Reading is being used at 500 sites which accounts for around 90 per cent of total consumption. The new system allows for better real time energy monitoring and management, reduces staff time in taking readings at remote sites and results in accurate billing by our energy suppliers.

At Red Bridge Pumping Station near Blackpool, the Environment Agency has installed its first direct drive wind pump — replacing an energy intensive electrical pump . The new pump can operate during low wind speeds and is used to prevent flooding. The electrical pumps now don’t need to run as frequently, therefore saving energy, reducing both electricity bills and maintenance costs.

Calverton Fish Farm, in the Midlands, will be installing a 60 Kilowatt biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water for the canteen, washrooms, student accommodation block, three drying rooms, laboratory and site office.

The Environment Agency has its own strict target — to reduce CO2 emissions by 33 per cent by 2015 from 2006/07 levels and this puts it at the forefront of the public sector’s sustainable operations programme.

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