Energy savings measures in the 'superministry' (the central Tallinn building which hosts several ministries – ed.) during September reduced consumption levels by around a quarter compared to August.
"As a trial measure to save energy, we set the temperature in the offices at 19C and switched off the ventilation at night," Kaur Kajak, deputy secretary-general for public governance at the Ministry of Finance, told ERR.
"We have also reduced heating in the auxiliary room to a minimum and are trialing an approach over a two-week period, whereby we will close part of the building and direct people to other areas in order to optimize and increase the utilization of space. The first results show that the implementation of these measures led to a significant reduction in consumption and costs in September," said Kajak.
Asked to specify the size of the "significant drop in consumption", Kajak said that energy use at the 'superministry' in September was down by about a quarter when compared to August.
Kajak explained, that in September, the Ministry of Finance, in cooperation with experts, agencies, municipalities, put together a set of recommended guidelines for public authorities, aimed at reducing energy consumption in buildings used by the central government during the coming heating season.
The guidelines include setting upper limits for room temperatures, while also ensuring that the temperatures rooms not permanently in use are kept to a minimum. The directions also included switching of buildings' exterior lighting systems and any decorative lighting used to illuminate monuments at night. The Ministry additionally recommended refraining from using electricity to heat water for domestic use, and for expert assessments of technical systems in buildings to be carried out in order to optimize energy use.
"One possible idea to consider, if necessary, is the implementation of collective remote working. Whether, and to what extent, this guideline will be implemented is a matter for each institution to decide individually, depending on its capacities," said Kajak.
Kajak recalled that, just like in the private sector, the state had already experimented with its employees working from home during the COVID crisis. "The experience from that time showed that this arrangement did not affect the quality of work," he said.
The ministries housed in the so-called 'superministry' have given their employees a directive to work from home on Fridays, where possible.
Neither the Ministry of Social Affairs nor the Ministry of Finance have opted to implement collective remote working for the time being.
Kajak said the finance ministry is continuing to monitor the implementation of energy-saving measures in public institutions, with further results expected to be available in November. A more detailed overview of the process will be available at the end of the heating season.
Editor: Michael Cole