"Goodbye carbon” How the Senedd is becoming net carbon neutral by 2030

Published 24/11/2021   |   Last Updated 24/11/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

The Senedd is leading the way among parliamentary bodies in the UK in our sustainability and environmental performance.

As one of the highest profile public institutions in Wales, we recognise our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment and work in an environmentally responsible manner in all our activities.

Here we’ll take a look at what the Senedd Commission is doing against some of the targets set out by COP26, and what we hope to achieve by 2030.

The COP26 conference has set out what needs to happen to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Around 30,000 delegates and 200 world leaders attended the conference in Glasgow, with the talks widely considered to be the last opportunity to deliver on commitments to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 - 2°C.

The summit covered a range of themes, including transport, nature, energy, gender, climate adaption and youth empowerment, with four key goals:

  1. Mitigation: Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  2. Adaptation: urgently adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  3. Finance: To deliver on the first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020
  4. Collaboration: the challenges of the climate crisis can only be met by working together


Leading the way in carbon reduction

We have recently launched our third Carbon Neutral Strategy, Goodbye Carbon, with an ambitious commitment to becoming net carbon neutral by 2030, the first parliamentary body in the UK to do so.

Building on the success of our first two strategies – we now operate at half the carbon footprint we did when we started - Goodbye Carbon outlines our short, medium and long term targets.

These are some of our key milestones.

Short term targets (2021-2023)

We’ll save around 240 tonnes of carbon by making efficiency savings early on. They include the following measures:

  • Staff behaviour changes and good housekeeping
  • Improvements to our three buildings: Ty Hywel, the Senedd and Pierhead
  • Additional metering equipment and monitoring software
  • LED lighting: continued replacement and review of controls

Medium term targets

Save an estimated 331 tonnes of carbon per year through:

  • Refurbishment of air-handling units
  • Connection to Cardiff’s district heating network
  • Revert Ty Hywel to passive ventilation
  • Installation of solar panels to the Senedd and Ty Hywel

Long term targets (by 2030)

Save an estimated 10-92 tonnes of carbon per year through:

  • Air source heat pumps for our hot water supply
  • Changes to our travel and subsistence claims to prioritise electric vehicle travel

You can read the full strategy here: Carbon Neutral Strategy 2021-2030.

 

Improving biodiversity on our estate

Whilst we are very limited with outdoor space around the parliamentary estate, we have made significant improvements over recent years to improve biodiversity.

We have had a garden strip, bird boxes and fruit trees for some time, but recently improved the garden area to make it more attractive to pollinators and added a small pond to support invertebrates. We have changed the way we manage the strip of land alongside the Senedd to encourage wildflower growth- it now even supports orchids.

We’ve added swift boxes to the roof of Ty Hywel to provide a home for these important birds that feed on insects over Cardiff Bay, and now have three flourishing beehives on the roof of the Pierhead. Following support from RSPB and Bug Life, we have even become an Urban Buzz site.

Investing in our buildings

The Senedd and the Senedd Commission operate out of four buildings – Tŷ Hywel, the Senedd and Pierhead buildings in Cardiff Bay and a small office in Colwyn Bay. These buildings are a mixture of wholly owned and leased assets. Tŷ Hywel, constructed in the early 1990s is a largely open plan building providing office accommodation for around 700 staff across five floors.

The iconic Senedd building houses the debating chamber and is constructed to BREAAM Excellent standards using a mixture of renewable energy technologies for heating, rain water harvesting and mixed mode natural ventilation systems for cooling. The Pierhead is a Grade 1 listed building constructed in 1897 which represents one of Cardiff's most familiar, historic landmarks.

Our buildings are the heartbeat of our carbon reduction strategy. The way in which we use, maintain and improve the buildings are a key driver for ensuring continued success and creating more sustainable working environments. Investment in our buildings to achieve this is set out in the short, medium and long term targets above.

Making it Happen

We know that we can't deliver our vision in isolation. We need to listen and learn from all our stakeholders as an environmentally sustainable Senedd of the future will be created and shaped by our occupants and visitors alike. We want people to be proud to work at and visit a responsible Senedd.

What next? Keeping you informed

We're committed to being an open and transparent organisation. Given our position and influence as a key democratic body, we are expected to lead by example in reporting publicly and transparently on our activities to promote engagement and we have an obligation to be accountable for our sustainability performance.

For more information about the Sustainability at the Senedd Commission please see: https://senedd.wales/commission/sustainability/


Our Sustainability Annual Report discusses the past year’s environmental performance, progress against targets, and what we have planned for the future.


Our third Carbon Reduction Strategy, Goodbye Carbon, builds on the previous work we’ve done and sets out our end-game.


Our sustainability policies provide a high level commitment to ensure we use resources wisely, drive improvement and achieve our strategic goals.


Find out about the work of our Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee.


For more information about COP26 see our Research Service’s article: COP26: The Time is Now