Environmental FAQs

A. Yes. Parliament’s environmental policy (PDF PDF 70 KB) has been endorsed by the House of Commons Commission and the House Committee of the House of Lords.

A. Parliament measures its environmental performance in the following target areas; carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption, waste recycled, waste generated. The target’s can be found on the Targets and Performance page.

A. Parliament regularly monitors its performance in the following environmental target areas; carbon emissions, water consumption, waste generated and waste recycled. The figures are reported internally on a monthly basis and externally on an annual basis. We are working to provide more up to date information externally.

As at March 2016, our performance in our 4 target areas in comparison to our base year of 2008/09 is as follows:  

  • carbon emissions are down 22.6%;
  • water consumption is down 39.4%;
  • waste generated (by weight) is down 29.3%;
  • an increase in our recycling rate by 15.4%.

A. Performance is aggregated from various sources such as half hourly electricity readings, gas and water meters and loggers, and a breakdown of our waste figures provided by our waste management contractor.

A. To ensure continuous improvement with regards to its environmental performance, Parliament has an Environmental Improvement Plan to support delivery of both the short term annual and longer term targets. This sets out the schedule of works for the financial year. The following headline initiatives are programmed for 2016/17 to help achieve a reduction in environmental impacts:

  • further development of a Parliament wide environmental engagement programme;
  • installation of Voltage Optimisation equipment to reduce energy wastage;
  • continuing adjustment to the building management system, LED lamp replacement and lighting controls, and
  • installation of upgraded loggers incorporating leak detection on all water meters on the Estate;
  • installation of AMR’s on all gas supplies.

A. From 1 April 2013 all electricity supplied to the estate is sourced from renewable and good quality combined heat and power sources. All electrical supplies to the Parliamentary Estate are therefore climate change levy exempt.

A. Yes we install energy efficient lighting whenever new lighting is installed, a recent example being the Victoria Tower floodlights.

A. The Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme will provide a significant opportunity to implement substantial energy efficiency improvements and reduce carbon emissions.

The Environment team are working with the Programme Team to assess the environmental opportunities provided by Restoration and Renewal and have secured a commitment for the longer term Mechanical and Electrical project to work towards Parliament’s longer term carbon reduction target.

A. There are limited opportunities for installing renewable energy options on the Estate however photovoltaic cells have been installed on the flat roofs of the Palace as part of the cast iron roof project. One building on the Estate, Millbank House, already has thermal solar panels which are used to pre-heat hot water. Opportunities to install further renewable energies will be considered as part of the electrical infrastructure programme and major refurbishments.

A.  Dedicated recycling facilities are available for the following waste types:

  • Paper/cardboard
  • Glass
  • Plastic bottles
  • Cans
  • Batteries

In addition, corporate recycling facilities are available for the collection and recovery of catering waste (including food), wood, metal, cooking oil, light fittings, fluorescent and sodium lamps, unwanted office files and binders, printer and photocopier toner cartridges, batteries, television monitors, refrigerators, small electronic equipment and computer hardware. 

A. We monitor the amount of paper used for office printing and photocopying, publications produced by in house services and use of business papers. Usage from this is approximately 1000 tonnes a year.

A. Parliament has installed meter loggers on all of the mains water supplies to the Estate enabling identification of exceptional patterns of use and leaks. Half of all water used on the Estate is abstracted from a borehole underneath Portcullis House which is used to cool and heat incoming air ventilation and for flushing toilets. An audit was also undertaken in conjunction with Thames Water into water usage at the Palace.

A. The House Authorities use the Crown Commercial Service’s framework for energy suppliers. The Crown Commercial Service carries out a competitive tender in accordance with EU Procurement rules.

The House policy is to use public sector frameworks where these are available, have tested the market and greatly reduce the time taken and resource incurred by the House.

A. It is not possible to determine the total cost of heating the Houses of Parliament.

The buildings are heated either by natural gas or electricity, and in neither case is the amount of energy used for heating separately metered. Where buildings are heated by natural gas boilers the gas meters record total consumption for providing hot water services, and in some cases catering, as well as central space heating. Where the buildings are heated by electricity, the meters record total consumption for powering all electrical services in the building, including space heating.

A. The natural gas costs for the Parliamentary Estate for the last 6 financial years are:
               £s
2010/11  853,598
2011/12  822,856
2012/13 1,122,306
2013/14  846,252
2014/15  783,211
2015/16  709,021

The electricity costs for the Parliamentary Estate for the last 6 financial years are:
               £s
2010/11  2,876,465
2011/12  3,466,449
2012/13  3,530,609
2013/14  3,399,288      
2014/15  3,479,963
2015/16  3,127,360

Annual Energy Costs (XLSX XLSX 12 KB)

A. The average cost for each unit of gas and electricity is shown below for the previous 5 financial years.

               Gas p/kWh              Electricity p/kWh
2011/12  3.33                        10.74
2012/13  3.91                        9.99
2013/14  2.58                        8.97 
2014/15  2.38                        9.24
2015/16  2.10                        8.24  

Cost per unit (XLSX XLSX 10 KB)

A. Parliament operates to a pre-agreed heating season which is modified annually according to weather conditions i.e. if the weather is unseasonably warm at the start of the heating season agreement is sought to delay switching on the heating, conversely if the weather is unseasonably cold the heating is switched on earlier. The pre-agreed heating season is from mid-September to mid-April. This reflects difficulties in overcoming thermal mass in a building with a large number of difficult to heat spaces with considerable floor to ceiling heights and issues regarding the fabric of the building.