Friday, October 03, 2008

Parliament's carbon emissions 'among worst in UK'

The Palace of Westminster and the Bank of England are among the country's least energy efficient public buildings, it has emerged.

The Palace of Westminster and the Bank of England are among the country's least energy efficient public buildings
Houses of Parliament emits 11,983 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year Photo: IAN JONES

About 18,000 public buildings are being tested for energy efficiency after a new law was passed dictating that their carbon dioxide emissions must be measured.

The measure ranks buildings' efficiency on a scale where A is best and G is worst. Both the Palace of Westminster, which houses Parliament, and the Bank of England received a G. Between them, they use enough electricity and gas each year to emit 21,356 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Other famous buildings to receive the bottom grade include the Imperial War Museums in London and Salford.

However it was not only older buildings that were found to be energy inefficient. Despite opening only six years ago, London's City Hall received an E grade. City Hall was described by Foster & Partners, which designed it, as a "virtually non-polluting public building".

Out of the 3,200 buildings tested so far, a quarter scored an F or a G. Only 22 of them - less than 1 per cent - received an A. The average grade was a D - which was the mark given to 10 Downing Street.

Paul King, the chief executive of the UK Green Buildings Council, said: "These results show our leaky and draughty public buildings should be a priority target for refurbishment.

"In a turbulent financial climate, lower energy bills will benefit the taxpayer for years to come. If we are to cut our carbon, save money and achieve energy security, our buildings have to be on the front line of this battle," he told The Guardian.

It is now a legal requirement that every public building with an area greater than 1,000 square metres show a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) - similar to the colour-coded charts which come on refrigerators.

The Government has promised to make all new public buildings have zero carbon emissions within ten years.

Emissions from Britain's public buildings
(The grade reflects the building's type and size, as well as its emissions)

Houses of Parliament - G grade - 11,983 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted each year

Bank of England - G - 9,373

Imperial War Museum London - G 3,664

Imperial War Museum North - G - 1,396

Natural History Museum - E - 10,026

HM Treasury - E - 4,122

City Hall, London - E - 2,255

Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - E - 1,322

10 Downing Street - D - 675

Job Centre Plus, Goole - B - 67

[Source: Display Energy Certificate]

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