'Superministry' cuts down on energy use but bills continue to rise

The 'super-ministry' building in Tallinn, home of the justice ministry and several others.
The 'super-ministry' building in Tallinn, home of the justice ministry and several others. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

This fall, efforts were made to save money in the running of Tallinn's "superministry" building, which houses four government ministries. The experiment has made it clear, that freezing cold staff don't perform well at work, and even if the efforts to save on electricity and heating were highly efficient, they have not managed to stop the bills from increasing.

In October, thermal scarves, woolen sweaters and blankets came into fashion among ministry workers, as the heating in the " superministry" building was turned down to 19C. However, nowadays, you no can no longer see freezing cold government officials trying to get their work done there. After two months of the energy-saving experiment, it had to be admitted that working in such chilly conditions was not possible and the temperature in the offices has been turned up to 20C.

"Most people have said, that they think it is right to save energy. However, you should still consider the fact that it is an office and sedentary work. You need raise the temperature, otherwise all your thinking is just focused on how to stay warm, not on how to do your job better," said Maarjo Mändmaa, secretary general of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

During the experiment four of the building's floors were also left completely empty for several weeks, with the ventilation system switched off and heating down even further than in the offices where people were working. The ministry building's two saunas were also left cold during this period, and staff were advised to work from home on Fridays.

In comparison to the same months last year, the "superministry's heating bills fell by almost half between August and September. In November there were lower by a third. In October alone, the ministry managed to save almost 18 percent on heating costs.

However, while electricity consumption in the building also fell by around a fifth between September and November, no major savings were made on the bills in that period. The bill for August was almost three times higher than last year, September's was a fifth higher, and October's stayed around the same. Only in November was the electricity bill lower than last year's – by seven percent.

The Ministry of Finance estimates that the biggest way to make savings will be by optimizing the use of space in the building. To achieve this, four floors of the "superministry" will be emptied.

"Negotiations have been held with four ministries: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of the Interior. When it comes to the Ministry of the Interior, there are some very serious security concerns, which is why we have effectively ended negotiations (about this) with them," said Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa).


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Editor: Michael Cole

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