posted by Gabriela Ruegger

A
new carbon-cutting record!

In just one year, the British embassies in Brazil hit their 10:10 target six times over. Sustainability manager Gabriela Ruegger explains how.

 

The network of UK embassies in Brazil (Rio, São Paulo and Brasilia) joined 10:10 , and we've been working hard to cut carbon ever since. The green team has worked with our estates team in each post to introduce energy-efficiency measures, and enlisted the corporate services (CS) team to incorporate better policies to reduce our carbon emissions.

The 10:10 methodology focuses on electricity, on-site fuel use, vehicle fuel and air travel, but we also took the opportunity to reduce water and waste with the help of the FCO carbon calculator.

As the graph illustrates we reduced our emissions by an amazing 56.6% in one year – far beyond the basic 10% target! 

A considerable amount of this saving is due to the change in our travel policy. The recent economic conditions have been an incentive to reduce as many flights as we can and we’ve actually gone from 2,184 in our baseline year to 770 in our action year. We also used to put staff in business class for long flights but once again economics has meant a change to this policy and this to has meant a carbon saving too as economy flights are more efficient than business class.

Although the air travel reduction was a significant part of our overall savings, it is important to notice that if even if we exclude the air flights and analyse just the carbon emissions from our operations, we have also achieved more than 10%. This is a result of the joint efforts from Green team and CS teams within all three posts, and shows the shared commitment of different teams in achieving a network-wide goal.

 

The operational areas that we have managed to reduce carbon emissions are concentrated on waste and fuel, and with simple measures we can reduce this even further. Our priority at the moment should be focussing on energy consumption, as detailed in the graph below.

When looking at our energy consumption, we notice that the office energy usage is down for all three posts. However, the consumption in houses and apartments has shown an increase – we need to drill down and understand what is driving this trend.

Brasilia:

                                            

Rio         São Paulo

*For this blog, Rio’s and São Paulo’s emissions detailed above include office premises and houses, as the houses represent less than 0.1%.

 

Expectations for next year

Having achieved a 60% saving you might think we’d be happy to relax a bit in 2011, but we're not resting on our laurels!

Gabriela and FCO colleagues featuring in a local newspaperAlthough overseas posts are not yet obliged to achieve a year on year reduction in emissions, regional environmental managers have been talking to our London FCO office about introducing such a measure. In the meantime we’re trying to achieve these savings on a voluntary basis, as being proactive will not count against us if and when reductions become obligatory.

The green team has already started working with estates teams on a series of projects that are predicted to reduce our CO₂ emissions by a further 17 tonnes. The improvements are as follows:

  • Lighting adaptations in the office in São Paulo (SP)
  • Lighting Adaptations in the office in Brasilia
  • Installation of solar panel in the residence in SP
  • Installation of solar panel in DCG’s house in SP
  • New flex-fuelled vehicle in Rio

We estimate that taking these steps will save us £50,000 annually!

However, this will not be sufficient to achieve our target of a further 10% reduction in emissions during the new period so steps proposed during the current period are:

  • Formally commit the Brazil Network to 10:10 for future years.
  • Secure a firm ongoing commitment from senior management
  • Strong communication and cooperation between estates teams and green team
  • Strong support from budget holders to ensure all flights are absolutely necessary
  • Reduce our waste – improve recycling in all posts
  • Reduce purchase of office supplies that generates more waste (paper and paper products)
  • Provide proper training for drivers on how to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Analyse and improve car fleet usage (amend transport policy if necessary).

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