IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Public sector leadership programmes and public procurement policies

Government agencies, and ultimately taxpayers, are responsible for a wide range of energy-consuming facilities and services such as government office buildings, schools and health care facilities. The government itself is often a country’s largest consumer of energy and largest buyer of energy-using equipment. The US federal government spends over US$ 10 billion/yr for energy-using equipment (Harris and Johnson, 2000). Government policies and actions can thus contribute, both directly and indirectly, to energy savings and associated GHG reductions (Van Wie McGrory et al., 2002). A recent study for several EU countries (Borg et al., 2003) found a potential for direct energy savings of 20% or more in EU government facilities and operations. According to the USDOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), average energy intensity (site energy per square meter) in federal buildings has been reduced by about 25% since 1985, while average energy intensity in US commercial buildings has stayed roughly constant (USDOE/EERE, 2005; USDOE/FEMP, 2005).

Indirect beneficial impacts occur when Governments act effectively as market leaders. First, government buying power can create or expand demand for energy-efficient products and services. Second, visible government energy-saving actions can serve as an example for others. Public sector energy efficiency programmes fall into five categories (Harris et al., 2005): (i) Policies and targets (energy/cost savings; CO2 reductions); (ii) Public buildings (energy-saving retrofit and operation of existing facilities, as well as sustainability in new construction), (iii) Energy-efficient government procurement; (iv) Efficiency and renewable energy use in public infrastructure (transit, roads, water and other public services); and (v) Information, training, incentives and recognition of leadership by agencies and individuals. The following paragraphs provide selected examples.

The EU Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings discussed above and in Box 6.3, includes special requirements for public building certification. UK policy requires all new and refurbished government buildings to be rated under the British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), which includes credits for energy efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. New government buildings must achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent,’ while major refurbishments require a ‘Good’ rating (UK/DEFRA, 2004). In the USA, a recent law requires new federal buildings to be designed 30% better for energy performance than that required by current commercial and residential building codes (U.S. Congress, 2005).

Energy-efficient government purchasing and public procurement can be powerful market tools. (Borg et al., 2003; Harris et al., 2004). Energy-efficient government procurement policies are in place in several EU countries, as well as in Japan, Korea, Mexico, China and the USA (Harris et al., 2005). In the USA, in 2005, Congress passed a law mandating that all federal agencies specify and buy efficient products that qualify for the Energy Star label, or (in cases where that label does not apply) products designated by USDOE/FEMP as being among the top 25th percentile of efficient products (US Congress, 2005). Federal purchasing policies are expected to save 1.1 million tonnes CO2-eq and US$ 224 million/yr in 2010 (Harris and Johnson, 2000).

Public procurement policies can have their greatest impact on the market when they are based on widely harmonized energy-efficiency specifications that can send a strong market signal to manufacturers and suppliers (Borg et al., 2003). If US agencies at all levels of government adopt the federal efficiency criteria for their own purchases, estimated annual electricity savings in the USA would be 10.8 million tonnes CO2-eq, allowing for at least one billion US$/yr savings on public energy bills (Harris and Johnson, 2000).