Leading public sector organisations defy economic downturn and commit to cutting their carbon footprints

Despite the economic downturn twenty four leading public sector organisations will today take action to reduce their carbon footprints, which could help to slash more than 25% from their energy bills over the next five years.  The organisations will join the Carbon Trust in London today as recent research shows that over 80% of the public sector agrees that carbon reduction projects will deliver financial benefits.[1]

Participants in the Carbon Trust's service come from local authorities, the NHS, further and higher education institutions, central government departments and executive agencies.  Over the next ten months they will be investing in their own carbon performance and savings. The twenty four organisations will be following programmes that have been developed by the Carbon Trust and honed by over ten years of experience working with the public sector, which has helped to save over 17 million tonnes of CO2 and £600 million to date. Carbon Trust Chairman, James Smith, will welcome them all as they gather together at the University of London to take the first steps to reduce both carbon emissions and energy bills.

The public sector is responsible for up to 23 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, which carries an associated energy cost of some £5 billion.[2] The potential for savings is immense, and the return on investment makes the case for cutting carbon even more compelling. With the right guidance, and the implementation of the most cost effective solutions, it is estimated that a capital investment of £1.5 billion could reduce that annual bill by £500 million, providing payback in as little as three years.[3]


James Smith, Chairman of the Carbon Trust, said:

"Climate change means droughts and floods. We should be daunted by the dangers of climate change. But more so, we should be invigorated by the economic opportunities in energy efficiency and new, low carbon energy technologies. The cost benefit equation on climate change favours action.

"The public sector has a vital role to play in tackling climate change. The public sector can improve its energy efficiency and use its buying power to get new, low carbon technologies going more quickly. On climate change, the public sector can lead by the power of example. At the Carbon Trust we are proud to be working with public sector bodies that are so determined to tackle climate change."

Tim Pryce, Head of Public Sector at the Carbon Trust, said:

"There is a tremendous opportunity for the public sector to take their financial futures into their own hands and invest in cost savings at the same time as realising significant carbon savings. It is a chance for them to show some entrepreneurial spirit, boosting their organisational performance, and providing better value for their services. This is why we welcome the leadership shown by all of the participants taking part in our programmes this year.

"The Carbon Trust has a mission to help accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. We are very proud to be working with twenty four public sector bodies who are demonstrating a long term vision and setting an excellent example to local businesses and their wider communities. We look to the public sector as a whole to continue to lead the UK in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. There is no doubt that the actions that these organisations are taking today will help build the foundation for a more sustainable future."

Gillian Osborne, Finance Director at Hull College, said:

"We have high expectations that taking part in the Carbon Management Programme will deliver significant benefits for the college. Over the next ten months we hope to identify major savings in our energy bill, and put in place ambitious targets for reducing our emissions. Perhaps even more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to engage our 27,000 students, which could have an even greater impact.

"We have worked very hard to deliver an academic performance which is rated by Ofsted as 'Grade 1 - Outstanding' and we look forward to working with the Carbon Trust to deliver an environmental performance which can match this."

Will Syddall, Sustainability Officer at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust, said:

"We're looking forward to working with the Carbon Trust again on their new Collaborative Implementation Service. Guy's and St. Thomas' were one of the first public sector organisations to join the Carbon Management Programme in 2006 and it helped us to develop a strategic approach to carbon management and energy efficiency. It also laid the groundwork for investment in combined heat and power at both hospitals, which save us some £1.5 million and 11,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

"Nonetheless, there is still work to be done and every pound that is saved on our energy costs is money that can be invested in patient care. The threat that climate change poses to human health is well documented and as a leading NHS Trust we feel we have a responsibility to lead the way in carbon reduction. By working with the Carbon Trust again we aim to update, reinvigorate and embed our carbon management plan; find new opportunities to cut carbon emissions; and prioritise and implement carbon reduction projects."

Adam Higgin, Energy and Environment Manager at the University of Bedfordshire, said:

"Investing in carbon management makes a huge amount of sense for higher education institutions, and the direct environmental and financial benefits are supplemented by the indirect impact we can have on Bedfordshire's 1,200 staff and 24,000 students.

"For example, in the past five years the University has invested some £400,000 in carbon reduction projects, above and beyond the low and zero carbon technologies put into our new campus buildings, including the £34m Campus Centre and £40m student accommodation at the Luton campus.

"Last month the University was given a First Class Award and ranked 36th out of 145 in the People and Planet Green League 2012 - a leap of 17 places from last year.  We look forward to continuing our low carbon journey with the help of the Carbon Trust."

Doug Robinson, Sustainability Team Leader at Lincolnshire County Council, said:

"Our first five year carbon management plan captured imagination and commitment across the authority and has enabled us to cut carbon and costs, with over £1million invested and £350,000 of annual savings realised.

"We are looking forward to working with the Carbon Trust on their Carbon Management Revisited programme, taking us on to the next stage."


Notes to editor

For more information and to speak to a Carbon Trust spokesperson, please contact the Carbon Trust press office:

Tel no: 0207 544 3100
Email: press@carbontrust.com 

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust are independent experts with a mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy. 

We advise businesses, governments and the public sector on their opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world.

We measure and certify the environmental footprint of organisations, supply chains and products.

We help develop and deploy low carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.


[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/interactive/carbon-reduction

[2] http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/tackling-climate-change/saving-energy-co2/2261-camco-report-public-sector-emissions.pdf

[3] Ibid