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Focus On Series

Improving Energy Efficiency

Improving Energy EfficiencyAudit Summary

Publication Date:
December 2008

Audit Office:
Audit Scotland

Link to full report:

Audited Entities

  • National Health Service (NHS) bodies
  • Councils
  • Central government bodies

Audit Objective(s)

  • This report provides an assessment of how the public sector is improving its energy efficiency in relation to buildings and transport use.

Audit Scope

  • The study assessed councils, NHS bodies and central government bodies, although the recommendations are transferable to other areas of the public sector (i.e., the higher education sector, police forces and fire services).

Audit Criteria

  • Not available.

Main Audit Findings

  • Public bodies have allocated over £ .5 million of their own funds to invest in energy efficiency measures since 2004/05. Energy consumption in public buildings has fallen by 4.8 per cent in the three years to 2006/07 but spending on energy has increased by 46.7 per cent during this period due to significant rises in energy prices.
  • Efforts to improve energy efficiency have been greatest in those sectors that spend the most on energy (councils and the NHS) and this is reflected in their performance.
  • There is a need for stronger leadership by the Scottish Government and within public bodies to improve energy efficiency and ensure that the necessary cultural and behavioural changes are made. This is a challenge and more work is needed to achieve this.
  • A robust strategy is central to the coordination of activities to improve energy efficiency, however, there are inconsistencies in the quality of strategies being implemented.
  • The Scottish Government does not formally monitor and report progress by public bodies in improving energy efficiency. This makes it difficult to determine the extent to which the public sector is contributing to the achievement of national targets to reduce emissions.

Audit Recommendations

The Scottish Government should:

  • demonstrate leadership by providing clear guidance for all public bodies on the actions that are required to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions;
  • establish robust monitoring arrangements to ensure the performance of public bodies in improving energy efficiency can be accurately assessed and reported publicly against national and international targets; and
  • work with the public sector to disseminate good practice, coordinate networks to share information and establish appropriate energy efficiency benchmarks.

The public sector should:

  • ensure that effective strategies are in place to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions throughout all areas of public sector activity. These strategies should be supported by comprehensive plans detailing the actions to be taken to achieve agreed objectives and time-related targets;
  • ensure staff with the necessary skills are made available to support implementation of energy efficiency activities. Formal reporting frameworks should be used to monitor progress against the aims, objectives and targets outlined in energy efficiency strategies;
  • collect accurate and consistent data on energy consumption within all sites which they own or lease and in their transport use. Public bodies in multiple occupancy buildings need to work with landlords and other occupiers to establish procedures for identifying local consumption data; and
  • ensure that energy efficiency is considered in the procurement of goods and services and in the planning and design of major capital projects.