Thursday, 2 October 2008

Government buildings come bottom for energy efficiency

In a survey published today, two of London's most famous landmarks were exposed as some of the least energy-efficient public buildings in the country. From this month, all public buildings over 1,000 square metres have to display an energy certificate recording their annual CO2 emissions. Rankings between A and G are awarded for energy efficiency, in the same way as for white goods.

The Houses and Parliament and the Bank of England both score G, and between them emit over 21,000 tonnes of CO2 per year - the equivalent of 14,000 people flying between London and New York. In fact, only 1% of buildings achieved A rating, and the Department of the Environment's headquarters only scored E.

This initiative should be useful as a means of highlighting the issue of carbon emissions from public buildings, but I hope it doesn't lead to calls for old, wasteful buildings to be bulldozed to allow new, energy-efficient buildings to take their place. Quite apart from their aesthetic value, conserving an old building is usually more sustainable than replacing it with a new one. And modernity is no guarantee of sustainability either - City Hall scores E despite having opened only in 2002. The Guardian has the full story here.

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