Reducing our environmental impact is key to ongoing transformation within Royal Mail Group’s UK operations In 2011/12 we set a challenging goal to achieve 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (baseline 2004/5).

In 2014/15 we began a programme that sought to combine both technical and behavioural solutions for reducing our energy consumption. This involved the installation of Real Time Energy Monitors (RTO) across the top energy consuming sites within Royal Mail.

At Leeds Mail Centre, which is one of the largest in the Royal Mail core network, the initial programme and its integration into business as usual has been a success and has had a positive impact on energy consumption and carbon footprint.

We compared energy consumption in different building locations (zones) with employee numbers to help identify unpopulated areas that were consuming energy, and also help determine the impact of any initiative/ change.

The base-lining of consumption and stratifying across key areas containing the sensors allowed a comparison of energy with ‘population densities’ within work areas. This helped identify unpopulated areas with active consumption and also helped determine any operational impacts of initiatives.

The environment champion and building’s engineer regularly monitor the RTO data, identifying improvement opportunities and ensuring spikes/increased consumption are targeted. As a result Leeds Mail Centre has:

•           Installed LEDs lighting in key areas

•           Introduced a temperature ‘dead-band’ in the Air Handling Units (AHUs) that ensure they stop operating when not needed.

In addition, the environment champion regularly communicates key information to front-line staff supported by data evidence on key behaviours to reduce energy consumption. This has included;

•           An ‘amnesty’ on the use of unauthorised electrical equipment; desk top fans and heaters and their removal.

•           Turning lights off in rooms when leaving.

•           Keeping doors closed when air-con/heating is active.

•           Turning off non-essential electrical equipment, such as desktop computers and printers

To reinforce and share good behaviours, the environment champion presents to stakeholders within the RMG North Region on the successful approach used and champion best practice. In 2016/17 this led to a 15.5% reduction in total energy consumption at Leeds Mail Centre and a 21.11% reduction in the associated carbon footprint compared to the previous year. (Contributed 3.47% to our National Carbon Reduction which surpassed its 2020 reduction target 4 years early).

Looking forward, we are currently working on new target proposals enabling Royal Mail to continue its positive drive in reducing its carbon emissions and impact on the environment. A key to success is meaningful data; the importance of data driven decisions and how data analysis can clearly ‘visualise’ improvements for stakeholder engagement and quick ‘buy-in’ across all levels of the organisation should not be under-estimated!

Ron Symonds, Group Head of Environmental Sustainability said: ‘Work such as this helps support Royal Mail’s commitment to the environment and provides robust evidence for both our internal and external stakeholders on Royal Mail’s improving environmental performance’.

Author: David Waterston (Royal Mail’s Carbon Programmes Manager) has been with Royal Mail for over 13 years and takes a collaborative approach to his work in improving Royal Mail’s environmental performance; in particular David has worked extensively with the Environmental Champion at Leeds Mail Centre, Neil Windsor in writing this article.

Read more about Royal Mail's sustainability success and how it has reduced its environmental impact here