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Environmental FAQs

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Q. Does Parliament have an Environmental Policy?

A. Yes. Parliament's environmental policy has been approved by the House of Commons Executive Board and the House of Lords Management Board.

Q. What are Parliament's targets?

A. Parliament measures its environmental performance in the following impact areas; carbon dioxide emissions, mains water consumption, borehole water abstraction, waste recycling and in line with the waste hierarchy generally.

Parliament completed an environmental campaign against previous targets set in 2010. Targets to improve environmental through to 2050 are in the process of being agreed by both Houses.

Q. How does Parliament measure its performance?

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. We measure the carbon impacts from our supply chain and this is being extended to enable us to establish a carbon account.

Q. What is Parliament doing to reduce its environmental impact?

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 improvements. This sets out the schedule of works for the financial year.

Q. What is Parliament doing to reduce carbon emissions in the longer term?

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 Environmental Sustainability Team (EST) are working with the Programme Team to assess the environmental opportunities provided by Restoration and Renewal. The EST will work with Project Delivery, Parliamentary Maintenance Services Team, Design Authority colleagues and other operational teams across both Houses to promote energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

Q. Has Parliament considered options for renewable energy generation?

A. There are limited opportunities for installing renewable energy options on the Estate however photovoltaic cells were 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.

Q. What does Parliament recycle?

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

  • Dry Mixed recycling, including Paper/cardboard, plastic and cans
  • Compostable disposables and food
  • Glass
  • 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, small electronic equipment and computer hardware, printer and photocopier toner cartridges, batteries, television monitors and refrigerators.

Q. Does Parliament monitor its paper usage?

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 42 tonnes a year.

Q. What happens to Parliament’s food waste?

Food waste segregated in catering facilities is sent for anaerobic digestion (AD) which provides a source of renewable energy as a product of this process is the creation of methane which is used to generate electricity.

None of Parliament’s food waste is disposed of as landfill, thus avoiding the production of unharnessed and untreated methane. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a far greater impact than carbon dioxide.

Q. How much food waste is sent to AD? 

Figures in kgs for the last 6 calendar years are shown below. The figures below are for the Parliamentary Estate as a whole as the figures are not disaggregated between the Houses as food waste from all our catering outlets is co-mingled.

2017                253,056
2018                229,372
2019                258,869
2020                152,688
2021                148,230
2022                298,410 

Q. What steps has the Estate taken to reduce its mains water consumption?

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. Approximately half of all water used on the Estate is abstracted from a borehole underneath Portcullis House which is used to cool or heat incoming air ventilation and for flushing toilets.

Q. How does the House select its energy provider?

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.

Q. What is the cost for heating the Houses of Parliament?

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.

Q. What are the energy costs for the Houses of Parliament?

A. The natural gas costs for the Parliamentary Estate for the last 6 financial years are:

2017/18  634,875
2018/19  666,689
2019/20  634,627
2020/21  554,875
2021/22  793,650
2022/23  1,192,343

The electricity costs for the Parliamentary Estate for the last 6 financial years are:

2017/18  3,384,927
2018/19  4,459,994
2019/20  3,311,512
2020/21  4,815,584
2021/22  4,598,657
2022/23  5,880,791

gas and electricity costs 

Q. What is the cost per unit of electricity and gas which the Houses of Parliament pays?

A. The average cost for each unit of gas and electricity is shown below for the previous 6 financial years.
               Gas p/kWh              Electricity p/kWh

2017/18   1.71                      7.80
2018/19   1.99                      9.27
2019/20   1.99                      9.27
2020/21   1.97                     10.92
2021/22   2.25                     12.44
2022/23   4.35                     14.71

cost per unit

Q. When does Parliament turn its heating on?

A.Parliament operates to a 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 heating season is generally 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.