The Palace of Westminster and the Bank of England have been exposed as among the country’s least energy efficient public buildings by a new law to measure carbon dioxide emissions from the national estate.
Around 18,000 buildings, including town halls, museums, schools and job centres, are being tested to discover their energy efficiency on a sliding scale where A is the best and G is the worst. Parliament and the Bank both scored a G. Together, they consume enough electricity and gas to pump out 21,356 tonnes of CO2 a year, the equivalent of more than 14,000 people flying from London to New York.
The government estimates that almost a fifth of all carbon dioxide emissions in the UK are caused by non-residential buildings, and environmental campaigners said the findings mean the government must launch an urgent refurbishment programme to slash carbon emissions.
The Natural History Museum spends £1.4m a year on electricity and gas – a figure that is expected to double from this month as a result of rising world energy prices. One of the most energy hungry buildings in the country was the National Media Museum in Bradford, a 1960s structure, which scored a G. One in four of the 3,200 buildings assessed so far scored F or G, and the average was D. Only 22 buildings – under 1% – scored A.
No 10 Downing Street managed a D rating, which is better than average for its building type. But the prime minister’s heating, lighting and air conditioning still create 675 tonnes of CO2 a year, a bigger carbon footprint than a street of 28 families of four living in semi detached homes, each driving 10,000 miles a year and flying to Spain on an annual holiday.
The findings are likely to embarrass the government, which has pledged to make all new public buildings zero carbon by 2018. The Department for the Environment’s head office recorded an E.