Millennium Dome managers defend the site’s ‘green’ credentials

A newspaper report criticising Millennium Dome managers for buying 'green' electricity from an unaccredited company and suggestions that the site's steel urinals are being corroded by a faulty water recycling scheme have been denied.

An Independent on Sunday article alleged that the steel urinals in the Millennium Dome are at danger from corrosion because the flushing water – from a borehole provided by Thames Water – is too salty. Thames Water has denied there is any problem. In a letter to the Independent on Sunday Thames Water admitted that the borehole water is “saltier than we expected” but even so, it is only one-fifth as salty as sea water.

Urinals are at no risk of corrosion, according the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), the Dome’s managers. The Dome’s toilets use ‘grey’ water from three separate sources that is mixed together: water recycled from wash basins, water collected from the building’s roof and groundwater provided by Thames Water’s onsite borehole. The borehole’s groundwater is also served by a small desalination plant.

Lamenting the inaccurate reporting by the Independent on Sunday, David Taylor of NMEC told edie that the New Year had brought nothing but bad publicity. “We’re fair game, I guess,” says Taylor.

Taylor was also disturbed by the Independent on Sunday‘s allegation that the company had signed a contract to receive bad quality ‘green’ electricity. The Dome’s electricity is provided by the Renewable Energy Company, a company which provides businesses with energy from renewable sources. “They were the only people who could offer green electricity at very competitive rates,” says Taylor. “It would not have made commercial sense to go with any other company offering renewable energy.”

“We’ve never set ourselves up as the greenest people in the world, but we’ve tried to source electricity that is less environmentally damaging,” says Taylor. “We’re the size of a small town. Something this size cannot be totally environmentally sustainable but we’re getting green energy where we can.”

The Independent on Sunday is correct, in its own way. The Renewable Energy Company is not accredited under Future Energy (see related story), the Government’s renewable energy accreditation scheme operated by the Energy Savings Trust. But this is because Future Energy is a scheme that accredits domestic energy packages and the Renewable Energy Company sells only to businesses (see related story).

Any concern regarding the Dome’s energy supplies revolves around the fact that the Renewable Energy Company sources some of its energy from landfill incinerators. Although the Government has chosen to include energy generated by landfill site incinerators as a renewable energy, many environmentalists, including Friends of the Earth UK, oppose this. They do so on the grounds that the Government should be doing more to increase the amount of waste that is recycled instead of promoting incineration and because landfill incineration releases higher levels of greenhouse gases compared to other forms of renewable energy.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie