Long hours blamed as Government's carbon footprint increases

Figures show 10% increase in energy use compared with last year
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Indy Politics

Government buildings are burning up more energy, despite Gordon Brown's latest campaign to save the planet. Civil servants insist the cause is their longer working hours but the Tories accuse ministers of "hypocrisy" and of being less "green".

An analysis of the energy used by 54 government buildings reveals an average 10 per cent increase from last year. Downing Street, where Mr Brown often burns the midnight and early morning oil, is one of the worst offenders. It used a third more energy this year than the previous 12 months.

The Cabinet Office is responsible for three of the buildings that have gobbled up more energy in the past year: 22 Whitehall, where the Commons Leader Harriet Harman has an office; Admiralty House, which includes "grace and favour" apartments lived in by ministers; and 67 Tufton Street, Westminster.

But the Cabinet Office insisted: "The most significant factor [is] that currently many staff are working longer hours and at weekends." Officials also cite the age of the buildings in Whitehall, some of which are protected by planning law, but insist they are being made "greener".

The Tories have studied the "display energy certificates" for government buildings, which are based on the amount of metered energy used. Government properties have an average "energy rating" of 154, which is above the 150 threshold for a building to fall into the most efficient band.

They contrast their findings with the Government's plans for all new public-sector buildings to be "zero carbon" in 2018.

Grant Shapps, the shadow Housing Minister, who obtained the figures, told The Independent: "We all agree that zero carbon for new buildings is a great idea, but what about the buildings already in use? Gordon Brown lectures the world and his ministers lecture us about energy efficiency while the carbon emissions from their own government buildings are rising.

"It's about time they got their own houses in order. Government departments that fail to reduce their emissions should receive less from the Treasury for energy bills. Only by hitting ministers where it hurts will we achieve the carbon reductions required."

The Department of Energy and Climate Change last night said: "These figures are only for selected buildings and do not give the whole picture." It said there had been a 10 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from offices since 1999-00. The Government was in a "robust position" to exceed its target of a 12.5 per cent cut by March 2011 and could achieve a 17.8 per cent reduction. A spokesman added: "Government must lead by example in reducing emissions. That is why each government department has been set a departmental carbon budget for its own emissions."

The Government aims to cut the public sector's £3.2bn-a-year spend on energy by 10 per cent by 2012-13, saving £300m per year.

Changing Government energy use, 2008/9


Hanslope Park, Bucks (government communications centre)


67 Tufton Street, Westminster (rented by Cabinet Office)


22 Whitehall (Cabinet Office)


Downing Street


Admiralty House, Whitehall (Cab Off)


1 Carlton Gardens (owned by Foreign Office)


Eland House (Department for Communities and Local Government)


Planning Inspectorate, Bristol


70 Whitehall (Cabinet Office HQ)


Wales Office, Whitehall