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Whitehall energy use in the open

17 June 2010

Two Government ministries – DECC and the Home Office – are displaying their energy use in real-time, on-line, for the first time. All central government HQs will follow in the coming months.

Real-time online energy display is part of the Government’s commitment to cut carbon emissions from central government by 10 percent in the next year.
In May, the Prime Minister also announced that Government departments would cut their emissions by 10 percent in 12 months and publish the energy use so that the public can hold ministers and civil servants to account for their carbon emissions. The DECC display click here shows the amount and cost of energy used in 3 Whitehall Place at five second intervals. It also shows what this means in terms of carbon. The information gathered, which relates to electricity and gas use, is used, on the DECC homepage, to put together a picture of energy used over the course of the last 24 hours.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne is leading the drive to reduce Whitehall’s emissions by 10 percent. He said:  “We’re opening up Whitehall’s electricity and gas meters to public scrutiny. There can be no hiding place for energy waste in central government.  Cutting energy use saves carbon and it saves taxpayers’ money. Only by leading by example can we expect businesses and homes up and down the country to follow suit.”
Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister responsible for sustainability in the Home Office said:
“The energy tracker will enable the public to see how the Home Office is working towards being a more energy efficient department while reducing its carbon footprint. This demonstrates the government’s commitment to transparency and will allow the public to see how much we are spending on gas and electricity in real time. This will also drive efficiency and ensure we are delivering value for money.”
The online tool is powered by CarbonCulture and is a pilot. As more data is collected it will become available in different formats – for example, for the past week, month and year – with current performance compared to previous performance. This data will be available on this page. It has three main purposes. First, to be transparent about the amount and costs of the energy used; second, to provide a further incentive to reduce energy use; and third, to demonstrate how easily others can use real-time information to make their own savings.
Big red spikes appear on the Real Time Display on weekdays and show the gas demand caused by DECC's boilers firing up to heat the hot water for the sinks and showers, etc. There is a heavy load first thing in the morning to get the system up to temperature before occupancy starts to ramp up and then during the course of the day the boilers fire up 4 or 5 times under lighter load to keep the temperature of the water at the correct level. The visualisation tells a lot about the way the building works, and how the building is managed.


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