Energy efficiency

Greenhouse Gas emissions from energy use – and their consequent impact on climate change – is an important issue for all of us.

A scene from the inside of the RNLI’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset. This is where all-weather lifeboats are designed, built, repaired and maintained. The scene shows all-weather lifeboats within the vast building, at various stages of the build process.
The All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset

In the UK, the government has signed up to the 2015 Paris Agreement and, in 2020, committed to reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – the devolved administrations all have similar commitments. CO₂e means all Greenhouse Gas emissions converted into the equivalent amount of carbon emissions. The RNLI has its part to play in helping to achieve this. 

Increasingly legislation is making improving energy efficiency mandatory. We’ve achieved Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) compliance in the UK and Statutory Instrument 426 (SI 426) compliance in Ireland, through measuring and assessing our energy use and identifying opportunities for improvement. 

43% of our total energy is from the use of gas and electricity to power our buildings and equipment, with the other 57% being the fuel for lifeboats, rescue watercraft and vehicles.

Our Poole campus Lifesaving Support Centre buildings, All Weather Lifeboat Centre and RNLI College represent around 43% of our total gas and electricity use. Lifeboat Stations account for around 26%, the Inshore Lifeboat Centre in Cowes IOW 4%, with the remaining 27% made up of our regional bases, support centres, shops, museums and other support buildings.

A pie chart showing how gas and electricity use is distributed throughout the RNLI, where the RNLI Support Centre in Poole constitutes the greatest amount. Data follows. Poole campus Lifesaving Support Centre buildings, All Weather Lifeboat Centre and RNLI College: 43%. Lifeboat stations: 26%. Inshore Lifeboat Centre in Cowes, isle of Wight: 4%. The remaining 27% is made up of our regional bases, support centres, shops, museums and other support buildings.

We’ve set a long-term ambition of becoming a zero-carbon organisation for Scopes 1 and 2 by 2050. Scope 1 are direct Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from our use of gas and fuel; Scope 2 are indirect GHG emissions from our use of electricity. We will not use core funds to buy offsets to achieve this. 

Taking action to improve our energy efficiency and carbon reduction, where it’s practical and cost-effective to do so, is now a continuous process. The additional benefit is that these actions also help us to reduce our energy costs and protect against future cost increases. 

The RNLI Estates Team ensures that our new build and refurbishment projects incorporate energy efficiency and renewable technologies – for example, the new station at Llandudno consumes no more energy than the much smaller station it replaced. 

The new Llandudno Lifeboat Station, which is larger but consumes no more energy than the smaller station it replaced.
The new Llandudno Lifeboat Station

With the launch of our new environmental ambitions, the lifeboat stations we build and refurbish in the future will be designed to even higher standards of sustainability. 

The new Tower Lifeboat Station project will use enhanced design standards, performance measurement and assessment methods. These will be embedded in our Estates Team’s design methodology to drive carbon reductions, material efficiencies and landfill reductions throughout the construction, operation and eventual decommissioning of our buildings.

We also actively encourage all our people to be energy-aware – adapting their behaviours to minimise the energy used in our buildings and by equipment, where practical and safe to do so. 

During 2021, we’ll be developing our Zero Carbon 2050 strategy and roadmap. 

Monitoring our energy consumption

To ensure we’re managing and using energy as efficiently as we can, we have energy meters and monitors in our larger buildings. These help us improve efficiency and reduce our costs. They provide a much clearer picture of our energy use and enable more accurate control, maintenance and replacement of our systems.

Through access to energy data, our managers are able to target energy reductions in their teams. In 2019 we achieved 5.6% energy consumption reduction against our 5% target. This equates to a cost avoidance of £95,000.

Using sustainable energy

The electricity supplied to 90% of our locations is now covered under a single framework agreement with our energy broker, which procures for us certified green tariff electricity.