posted by Zara Arshad

greener embassy

The British Embassy in Beijing is making big changes for 10:10. Greening manager Zara Arshad explains

UPDATE: The results are in, and the embassy has announced an incredible 48% cut! Read Zara's update blog here.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office signed up to 10:10 back in February. It’s a commitment that means big changes for UK embassies around the world, and one that we in Beijing are taking very seriously.

The BE Green Express

Greener travel

Air travel accounts for 30–40% of a typical embassy's emissions, so we're replacing one in ten flights with train travel or videoconferencing. This target applies right to the top - the Ambassador dutifully opted for an overnight train on a recent visit to Shanghai, describing it as ‘convenient and comfortable’.

Our flights target applies right to the top - the Ambassador opted for an overnight train to Shanghai, describing it as ‘convenient and comfortable’

The embassy’s vehicle fleet is also undergoing a 10:10 makeover. Energy efficiency is a key consideration for new purchases and we now own three hybrids. Drivers are to be trained in efficient driving techniques and a new booking system will prioritise greener cars. These changes are set to achieve a 12% reduction in vehicle emissions.

But improving the green credentials of our fleet is only part of the challenge; we’re also looking to minimise the number of journeys taken. Single passenger journeys have been reduced through a campaign to promote car sharing and designer Beijing subway maps have been handed out to encourage use of public transport. Those who cycle to work have been celebrated in our newsletter.

Saving electricity

Our electricity use has also been a priority. As air conditioning is a significant source of emissions, we opt for fans where possible and ensure that windows and doors are closed. The system is switched off at night and the temperature is set to 23-24 degrees. Water coolers in the office are now on a timer and motion sensors turn off lights when no-one’s around.

Staff involvement

Staff involvement is a key part of our 10:10 strategy; our magazine, the ‘BE Green Express’ publishes advice, information and celebrates the best 10:10 actions from around the office. We’ve introduced a weekly electronic reminder to switch off printers, photocopiers and other electronic equipment.. Low energy light bulbs have been supplied to all staff and we’ve distributed 10:10 scribble pads with energy-saving tips made from recycled paper. 

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