Green Network for Businesses


Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

Introduction The Scottish Parliament accommodates around 1200 staff including 129 elected Members (MSPs) and their staff, around 450 Scottish Parliamentary Service staff, various Scottish Government staff, contractors and media personnel.

The Parliament also plays host to around 300,000 visitors a year. Responsibility for providing accommodation, staff and services to the Parliament lies with the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), a committee of Members chaired by the Presiding Officer. Day to day responsibility for delivering services is delegated to the Clerk/Chief Executive, who is Head of the Scottish Parliamentary Service.

Building sustainability leadership 

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is committed to operating sustainably and aims to improve its environmental performance year on year. To demonstrate this commitment, the SPCB established an Environmental Management System (EMS), compliant with the international standard ISO 14001:2015.

In April 2013 the Leadership Group approved its second carbon management plan. This plan set out an ambitious programme to reduce the Parliament’s carbon footprint by at least 30% by 2015 from a 2005/06 baseline. The target was subsequently increased to 32% by March 2015, meaning a reduction in carbon emissions of 1300 tonnes of CO² and annual savings of £245,000 per annum.

These challenging targets are an important step towards the Parliaments’ vision of a 42% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

Keen, Lean & Green

To set the organisational direction on their environmental performance, the Scottish Parliament set up an Environment and Sustainability Strategy Board. This small number of key individuals helps shape the direction and vision for the Parliament, but also includes one external member from an academic organisation who can challenge the Board and bring in an outsider’s perspective.  

The Parliament also has a very active employee led programme, called the Real Action on Carbon Emissions team (RACE). This group works to initiate behaviour change and engage staff on climate change and environmental topics. They run initiatives like Dr Bike sessions, book swaps, swishing events and other engagement activities.


 A Sustainable Travel Plan was also produced for the site, based on a travel survey carried out to assess the baseline of commuter travel at the Parliament. This will kick start various initiatives to encourage more sustainable travel options for staff commuting to and from work.  



To improve energy consumption on site, the parliament set up an Eco-Network of champions with a representative from each department.

The Eco-Network came up with a simple yet original energy strategy which follows the Keen, Lean and Green philosophy. 

Reduce  energy consumption Install energy efficiency technology Investigate onsite renewables


The Individual, Social and Material (ISM) approach  

ISM approach is based on ‘moving beyond the individual’ to consider all of the contexts that shape people’s behaviours – the Individual, the Social and the Material. By understanding these different contexts and the multiple factors within them that influence the way people act every day, more effective policies and interventions can be developed.  

The Parliament has used the ISM approach to help inform various behaviour change initiatives including a project to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups. The disposable coffee cups are all compostable and can be disposed of alongside the food waste, which is sent to an anaerobic digester. However, the number of coffee cups used was considerable and disposing of these costs the organisation money. To help tackle this, the Parliament introduced a 10p charge for each disposable cup and gave out free re-useable cups to encourage people to use re-useable cups rather than disposable ones. There has been some success with this initiative. The money raised from the charge will be donated to a local environment project.    

Victoria Barby, Environment Performance Manager at the Scottish Parliament, shared a word of advice for others looking to improve the environmental performance of their organisation. She said, “Just do it! Sometimes it is easier to just try things and work out if they have been successful afterwards. Also, money and resources are not always the issue that they are touted to be. You can usually find the resources to do something, if it is included in another priority that the organisation is working on.”  

For more information on the Scottish Parliament’s environmental performance, the detailed annual environment report is available at:


Food wasteGreen teamsStaff engagementSupply chain / ProcurementTransportWaste prevention and management
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