Red-faced green agency left 400 computers on at night
ITS job is to lead by example in cutting the carbon emissions that produce climate-changing gases.
But a survey of staff habits at Scotland's environmental protection agency (Sepa) found hundreds of the organisation's computers were being left on overnight.
The discovery is embarrassing for the government quango, which is at the forefront of the campaign to turn Scotland into a low-carbon economy. The switched-on computers produce 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a year - equivalent to the output of more than a dozen cars.
Around 400 of the agency's 1,700 office computers were regularly being left on outwith office hours, the survey discovered, with only around 100 identified as essential to services.
The machines were using more power switched on and unused than all of the company's computers used during a normal day, with around 90,000 kwh per year of power being wasted. It would take a jet plane 280 hours of flying to emit the same amount of carbon emissions.
Sepa says the issue has now been addressed after the agency installed a new monitoring software named NightWatchman but the results shocked environmental groups.
Chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland Stan Blackley said: "Given that Sepa is a public body with an environmental protection remit, it does seem to be a long way behind the curve on this issue.
"The environment movement has been urging the switching-off of computers, electrical appliances and lights when they're not required for as long as I can remember.
"This has been a key message of the Scottish Government's own 'do a little, change a lot' campaign for years. It sounds to me like Sepa could be doing a whole lot more to spread that message to its own staff."
Angus Crabbie, of Carbon Offset Scotland, said: "Sepa should really be trying to take a bit of a lead, given that they are an environmental agency. It's now been highlighted and with all businesses it's about taking those first steps.
"They've put their hands up and now they're taking steps to rectify the situation."
In February, Sepa published a document outlining its vision for a low-carbon future.
Dave Gorman, Sepa's head of environmental strategy, said at the time: "Sepa's core remit is to protect and improve the environment, and we recognise the serious threat posed by climate change.
"We are committed to advising, influencing, regulating and monitoring the environmental impacts of changes in energy generation, supply, transmission and consumption."
A spokesperson for Sepa said: "Typical figures show that, on average, 40 to 50 per cent of computers are left on overnight.
"Only 400 out of Sepa's 1700 computers were identified as being left on overnight before the introduction of NightWatchman, with 100 of those being identified as business critical that cannot be switched off."Sepa has been undertaking a sustained campaign to remind staff to switch their computers off at night, with Nightwatchman a part of that."
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