The RIBA is seeking to address our own environmental impact and reduce our carbon footprint. This work is ongoing; however we have made substantial steps in the right direction. We will continue to add information online and make case study material publicly available as we work towards creating a low carbon RIBA.
Environmental audit of the RIBA
The initial environmental audit of the institute focused on energy, procurement, transport and waste, and assessed our current environmental impact. The audit enabled us to identify the main activities that contribute towards our carbon footprint, and areas where we can make small changes that may have a big impact on our carbon dioxide emissions and our environmental impact.
The purpose of this audit was:
To review the use of resources within the RIBA headquarters and satellite offices, providing recommendations on how this usage can be reduced or eliminated.
To provide a document that can be used as a base point for action and for measurement and evaluation of progress through key performance indicators.
To set an example of 'best practice' and highlight opportunities for other organisations, architectural firms and RIBA staff to contribute to reducing the impact of climate change on the environment.
Following the final results of the audit, we are putting in place a strategy to reduce our emissions. This includes short and long term programme of activity, engaging with our staff and visitors, and reviewing our energy use and procurement.
In 2000 the RIBA replaced our aging and inefficient boilers, saving 425 tonnes of CO2 annually. Following this, the Energy Audit carried out in 2006/7 found the RIBA's CO2 production from energy use to be approximately 600 tonnes annually. The RIBA has subsequently helped our staff to reduce energy use, through simple actions such as switching off electronic equipment at the end of the day and when not in use, and by installing low energy technologies and lighting wherever possible, including motion sensors.
In 2008 we have changed our electricity supplier for 66 Portland Place to a 'greener' provider, Green Energy plc. The even better news is that we have successfully negotiated a deal whereby 100% of our supply will come from renewable sources:
'via independent smaller scale commercial generators, and generated using small scale hydro, biomass in several forms, gasification of wood chip, used vegetable waste through anaerobic digestion, or animal waste through anaerobic digestion, some wind power and a tiny amount of solar.'
The RIBA operates a procurement and use policy of Reduce Re-use Recycle. The waste per employee at our offices at 77 Portland Place was deemed by the Environmental Audit to be above good practice, and the waste production at our Headquarters at 66 Portland Place was well within the good practice benchmark. The RIBA has recycling bins within each office area and substantial quantities of recyclable materials are collected each year. However we believe we can do much better and we are exploring strategies to achieve this.
To this end we have recently purchased a 'cardboard bailer' for our headquarters, and now recycle 100% of the considerable amount of cardboard produced by our business. This has enabled us to reduce our waste to landfill by 5 full paladins a week and relinquish a rented and inefficient compactor, saving us in the region of £4000 a year.