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Energy & water conservation

Why conserve energy and water?
The City of London's objectives
Current activities
Making a Corporate Commitment - water consumption
Awards and accreditations - energy efficiency

Why conserve energy and water?

  • Energy and water conservation means minimising their use for operating purposes, whilst at the same time delivering a high quality service within a sustainable framework to the City community.
  • Energy is our most valuable natural commodity. Every day the use of energy to sustain and maintain human living creates pollution from exploration, extraction, supply, conversion, and utilisation.
  • The value of energy conservation is that it makes long term economic and environmental sense, enhancing success in these areas reduces bottom line operating costs, increases profit margins and in so doing, minimises air, water and soil pollution. Saving energy means saving money.
  • Fossil fuel resources are limited. The less we use in our generation, the more will be available for future generations. It will also buy time to develop alternative energy resources.
  • Lower energy consumption means less pollution. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels accelerate the greenhouse effect and contribute to the threat of global warming.
  • The potential for savings is high. In the UK we waste £11,000 million of energy each year. This is the equivalent of the total spending of 23 million visitors to the UK each year.
  • Energy costs are historically low at present because of an oversupply in oil on the world market and increased competition following privatisation of the energy industry. Saving energy now can help to offset inevitable price rises in the future.
  • The treatment, storage and supply of water is also energy intensive, and a large proportion of the cost of water goes to pay for electricity costs. If we reduce water consumption we also reduce energy consumption throughout the water supply chain.
  • The demand for water, locally, nationally and globally is increasing year on year. This growth in demand in the UK is placing increasing pressure on rivers and waterways, affecting water table heights and raising new land use issues.
  • Change to land use in London over the last 50 years is causing a rapid rise in groundwater levels under central London. The situation of rising groundwater causes potential damage to deep foundations and the London Underground system, but also produces opportunities for abstraction of water, close to point of use, through boreholes.
  • No cost or low cost measures have made impressive reductions in water costs and consumption in many organisations.
  • Water costs have risen dramatically over the last ten years and are now at the point where investment in water saving technologies provides short payback periods.
  • The encouragement of wildlife, flora and fauna can be greatly enhanced by the provision, maintenance and improvement of natural water catchment areas as well as man made water features such as ornamental lakes and fountains. The City of London will seek to manage all such water courses in a way that encourages biodiversity.


Our objectives in energy and water conservation are to:
  • Reduce the running costs of energy and water usage
  • Maximise the efficient use of energy and water
  • Minimise associated pollution at end use and by source
  • Optimise the use of space and equipment
  • Ensure best value, (balancing economy, efficiency, effectiveness and quality)
  • Avoid waste
  • Improve water quality standards
  • Encourage biodiversity in open spaces through quality management

Current activities

Monitoring and targeting

City skyline at sunset All the City of London's major buildings are regularly monitored and targeted to control their energy and water consumption. A system of Management Information Service Energy Reports has been established to feed back information. This system has been extended to the City of London's private commercial estate managed by the City Surveyor. In this way local managers are directly involved in the energy management of the site.

Energy wardens

The City of London deploys energy wardens whose role is to maintain awareness of energy and water conservation amongst staff and provide local support and feedback to the energy team. It believes the warden system promotes the collective responsibility ethos, thereby extending the conservation philosophy.

Learning and development

Over the last three years energy wardens and senior officers have undertaken formal awareness training in order to:

  • increase awareness of energy and water use and its potential savings
  • identify opportunities for improving energy and water management
  • provide support to front line staff involved in energy and water control
  • create an understanding that energy and water conservation is 'a shared responsibility' with a major impact on the effect on the quality of the environment.


The more people know and understand, the more likely they are to change their attitudes, behaviour and working practices. To this end the City of London has produced a series of awareness guides aimed at employees and members on a variety of topics from global warming to insulation. Supported by a series of technical handouts the guides provide an easy reference to issues related to energy and conservation.

Conserving water

Recent dry summers have made the conservation of water a high priority over the last few years. Nationally, water resources have declined at an alarming rate as a result of increased extraction, development, intensive agricultural practices and general neglect, leading to the silting up and succession of water courses. In response to these issues a seminar and workshop was organised at Burnham Beeches. The knowledge gained from experts attending the meeting were compiled into a major publication and incorporated into City of London management plans for the area.

Water invoice checking

Water invoicing has proved to be surprisingly inaccurate and complex to check and verify. The energy management team spends considerable time checking invoices and chasing errors. Mistakes often continue over many months or even years and backdated savings are often possible.

Rising groundwater

The City of London keeps abreast of the latest information regarding rising groundwater in London and seeks opportunities to reduce the risks of damage. Resources are being committed to fully investigating the potential for the use of boreholes to abstract water from the ground, which may be used supply to City of London and other buildings in the Square Mile. The use of boreholes is of particular interest where the cost of sinking the borehole can be met by savings in water supply costs.

Housing and fuel poverty

The City of London recognises the hardship caused by fuel poverty and is committed to developing an Affordable Warmth Strategy to minimise hardship in partnership with community groups and external organisations where appropriate. It will develop a three-point plan for tackling fuel poverty:

  • Raising staff and community awareness of the problems of fuel poverty
  • Targeting advice at those believed to be most vulnerable
  • Developing specific plans for Housing Revenue Account property, the Barbican, Registered Social Landlords and private sector housing.

As a commitment to saving energy within the City of London's public sector housing, a policy document has also been developed by a working party of officers to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock.

Combined heat and power

The City of London has for some time been committed to a major CHP/District heating and cooling scheme in the heart of the City. CHP helps to reduce pollution energy consumption and the costs of heating electricity and cooling. The system is one of only four large-scale urban systems in the country. It is also one of only two to have the added feature of chilled water generation and distribution (for use in air conditioning systems). Chilled water generation is by means of absorption chillers, which do not employ environmentally harmful refrigerants and utilise CHP engine heat as their energy source. The system operates from a central power station at Smithfield and currently supplies 11 City of London properties with heat and three with chilled water, several of these being totally dependent on the CHP system. Four private properties are also supplied. The district heating pipework extends for 3.6km through the EC1 and EC2 areas of the City, whilst the district cooling network is slightly shorter at 2.4km. Planning has commenced on the next phase of development, which will include a 1km extension to the district heating and cooling networks to supply new customers in the area to the south of the power station.


In February 1998 the City of London awarded an electricity contract for Guildhall, 90% of which was supplied from renewable energy. Renewable generation includes hydro, wind, wave or tidal power, solar and bio-fuels. CO2 emission savings for Guildhall over the term of the contract were in excess of 4,500 tonnes or 6% of the City of London's total CO2 emissions from electricity usage. Subsequent contracts have been awarded for public and street lighting, the Barbican Centre, The Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), New Spitalfields Market, Billingsgate Market and the City of London School. All in all, these contracts for electricity from renewable sources have reduced the City of London's Carbon Dioxide emissions by around 27% in this year (2000), a total of 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Utility purchasing

In today's Best Value climate the emphasis on obtaining optimal value for money is becoming stronger each year. It has been central to the City of London's purchasing policy for many years, realising utility cost savings of £1.5m over the last five years.

Energy surveys

The City of London's major buildings are regularly surveyed to determine whether they continue to use energy efficiently. Deploying either in-house or external consultants, an itemised schedule of no cost, low cost and detailed measures are drawn up for evaluation. The work identifies potential energy and cost savings and environmental improvements within the buildings, including the design, maintenance and operation of the services and building fabric.

Energy Code of Practice

The City of London has fully revised its own Energy Code of Practice for the design, maintenance and operation of new and refurbished buildings. The code is designed to be used by in-house designers and private consultants engaged in City of London work. Design guides are also available for easy reference.


In 1993 the City of London was the first local authority in a national scheme to be accredited for energy efficiency by the Institute of Energy. The scheme enables organisations of all types to submit themselves to external independent assessment on the way they use and manage energy. The scheme measures commitment and performance against three criteria:

  • energy management policy and reporting structures
  • investment, actual and planned improvement measures
  • demonstrated progress and improvement in energy usage

Accredited status is given for a three year period only. The City of London successfully retained its accredited status when the award was reviewed in 1996 and 1999.

Energy Committee

For over 25 years the City of London has a dedicated energy committee comprising elected members and aldermen. Members of the committee are all specialists, engineering, architecture, finance and energy being a number of disciplines. The committee's terms of reference can be summarised as follows:

  • to develop policies and strategies in relation to energy conservation
  • to monitor legislation relating to energy conservation together with it's implications
  • to provide advice on City of London activities via the Energy Management team to City businesses and residents.

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