Last year Government set itself the target of making its estate carbon neutral by 2012, reduce office carbon emissions by 30% by 2020, reduce waste production and water consumption and increase recycling.

Responding to the Sustainable Development Commission’s annual report on Government’s progress in meeting these targets, Environment Secretary David Miliband conceded that progress had been slower than he had hoped and was not adequate to meet the increasing pace of change that was needed.

Mr Miliband announced that he had initiated work to look at other ways to reduce Government’s environmental footprint and of the four opportunities he identified two were buildings-based.

One potential win he highlighted would be to make any new public sector buildings as energy efficient as possible, both in the construction process and once they are up and running.

The first of these will be a new Defra office in Alnwick, Northumberland, which is due to open in early 2008.

The showcase building will include four viable renewable energy technologies employed in the building design – wind turbines, solar thermal, photovoltaics and biomass heating.

Micro-renewables could also play a role in cutting the emissions of Government buildings, he said, adding that he would be looking at greater use of on-site energy generation and green energy tariffs which would not only reduce carbon output but would also expand the supply of renewable energy and show commitment to promoting green energy.

The other two areas Government will be focusing on will be the transport arrangements of its staff and politicians, opting for land-based public transport where possible, and the deployment of emerging technologies where it will use its procurement muscle in a bid to bring down prices of innovative environmentally-friendly products to make them more accessible to wider markets.

The first technology to benefit from this is likely to be energy efficient lighting systems.

Sam bond

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