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A Decade of Carbon Reduction For Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service

By 20th June 2022Case Studies

In 2011, Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service made a ground-breaking decision. Ahead of even most private sector organisations, Scottish Courts adopted an aggressive target to reduce their CO2 emissions by 5% year-on-year. Not only did they want to meet, and exceed, government initiatives for carbon reduction, but they also recognised the opportunity to drive down energy costs and ensure their buildings were fit for the 21st century.

Following a competitive tender, Atalian Servest were awarded a Total Facilities Management (TFM) contract for their complex estate in 2011. Included in the tender requirements was to work in partnership with Scottish Courts’ Energy Manager to devise and implement an energy and facilities strategy to deliver the aggressive carbon reduction target.

However, as William Heaney, Managing Director, Technical Services at Atalian Servest recalls: “Some carbon and energy projects are relatively straightforward. The challenge Scottish Courts set us was anything but simple.”

In fact, the Scottish Courts estate represented a unique set of challenges:

First, the SCTS property portfolio is largely open to the public with very high footfall. SCTS set stringent environmental requirements, including that all courtrooms are maintained at 21c, with a deviation of no more than 2c.

Second, SCTS have a large and geographically diverse property portfolio, with several locations in rural Scotland and island locations such as Orkney, Shetland and even the Outer Hebrides, adding further complexities to operations.

Finally, the estate included a broad range of property types, including listed and heritage buildings, some dating from the 1600s, minimising the options for infrastructure changes or relocation to support a carbon reduction strategy.

After identifying the initial challenges, Atalian Servest set out by creating a three phased approach.

Phase 1 – Developing an energy management infrastructure

After a thorough review, it quickly apparent that the priority had to be the development of an energy management infrastructure across the entire estate. Both parties needed the ability to monitor energy usage at each location. And, to manage the geographically diverse property portfolio, monitoring had to be done remotely.

A Building Management System was installed across all the properties in the estate, all of which was connected to a single front-end. In addition, an energy monitoring and targeting package was also introduced, which pulled in data from all gas, electric and water billing meters.  Once these two systems were installed, energy usage could be monitored, and HVAC systems could be controlled remotely from a central system, identifying usage at each location and identifying anomalies or discrepancies.

Phase 2 – Implementing energy reduction initiatives

Through the detailed analysis of energy usage and wastage, Atalian Servest built a plan with a series of energy reduction initiatives. These included boiler upgrades, heating controls, window replacements and secondary glazing, and the installation of energy-efficient appliances. Each of these delivered incremental energy savings.

To further reduce energy consumption, photovoltaic solar panels were also installed at appropriate locations.

In addition to a focus on energy consumption, other sources of carbon emissions have also been tackled, including waste. By conducting detailed waste management surveys, the need for additional recycling bins was identified, which led to the reduction of waste going to landfill.

Finally, water usage was addressed by installing water-efficient appliances and improving the recycling of water.

Together, these initiatives delivered a reduction of 25% in energy usage from 2011 to 2016, allowing Scottish Courts to meet their target of 5% year-on-year reductions.

Phase 3 – Delivering a 33% reduction in CO2 in two years

In 2016, SCTS developed a new, ten-year estates strategy. Having already achieved a 25% reduction in carbon emissions of 25%, SCTS set out an additional goal of a further 12.5% reduction in emissions by 2021. Resulting in a revised target of a 2.5% year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions.

Shortly after publication of the new estate’s strategy, SCTS again competitively tendered their entire FM contract. However, following the retirement of their Energy Manager, the winning FM provider for this new, larger contract would take complete responsibility for energy and carbon management, as well as other sustainability targets. In 2017, Atalian Servest was awarded the contract.

As Willian Heaney, Technical Services, Managing Director, explains “We were thrilled to win the entire contract, particularly given the energy and carbon management spoke. We had already created an effective energy management infrastructure, and we had already identified additional improvements we could make, including several capital projects which we knew had the potential to make a real difference.”

Measure, Analyse, Manage, Improve

Following the contract award, Atalian Servest appointed a dedicated full-time Energy & Sustainability Manager to work on the SCTS account, tasked with developing and implementing an energy and sustainability strategy to minimise energy usage and the carbon footprint.

Applying a rigorous Measure, Analyse, Manage & Improve approach, we conducted detailed energy audits (including seasonal, weather and out of hours analysis), benchmarked energy use against other buildings, checked and amended BEMS settings.

The analysis resulted in installation of a range of Smart Building technologies including installation of wireless sensors, PIRs and iScan for BEMS verification in new buildings. Atalian Servest also installed automatic meter reading on any remaining fiscal meters and submeters to provide more accurate energy usage data.

The analysis of the detailed data from the newly installed technology led to a range of energy reduction projects to reduce energy, water and waste, including:

  • Switching from belt-driven AHUs to EC fans resulted in savings, ranging from 30-60%, depending on the site.
  • Green Patrols were implemented; an initiative ensuring all Atalian Servest colleagues reported energy or carbon wastage, leading to identification of faulty PIRs, leading to savings on lighting use.
  • Regular, detailed PV data reviews and analysis identified partially failed systems at two sites. Once fixed, generation capacity was doubled.
  • Installation of exception alarms identified failure of heating controls on various sites after only one weekend. Immediate repair led to prevention of continual, wasteful gas usage.
  • Installation of automated water meter sensors identified water main leak. Prompt replacement of water main led to saving of 1,000 litres of water every hour, and a £16,000 annual saving.
  • Interrogation of gas data during summer period at one site allowed correction of HVAC strategy control issues, resulted in a 15% reduction and almost zero gas use during August.
  • Close examination of electricity data revealed a ground source heating system starting at 3am at one site. A change in BMS strategy reduced out of hours electricity consumption by 9%.
  • At just one site, retrofitting over 1,000 T8 light fittings with LED boards and drivers led to annual savings of 164,000 kWh, 40,000 tonnes of CO2e and £30,000. The extended lifespan also reduced maintenance costs and electricity consumption reduction of 68%. The use of retrofitting, rather replacement saved 12 tonnes of waste metal and 450kg of packaging.

As well as reducing energy usage, a rigorous invoice and budget management programme was also driven, examining every aspect of current and historical charges. A combination of retrospective audits, bill validation and reviewing and amending electricity capacity charges released savings of £170,000 per annum.

Reviewing the success of the contract, David Fairhurst, Atalian Servest’s Energy & Sustainability Manager at SCTS explains “It’s been a fantastic experience to work so closely with SCTS and be able to deliver such strong results. Delivering a 33% reduction in energy usage over a two-year period is a great outcome. Throughout, we have developed a really close collaboration and it’s this approach which has been pivotal in the success we have achieved together”.


  • Ensuring full compliance with appropriate regulations, including development of Energy Performance Certificates, Display Energy Certificates and TM44 compliance.
  • Collective success in tackling and reducing carbon emissions, water and waste has been recognised by the award to Scottish Courts of the prestigious Carbon Trust Triple Standard.
  • Energy costs have been reduced by more than £3m, allowing additional investments to be made in long-term energy and carbon reductions
  • Significantly exceeding the 2.5% year-on-year carbon reduction target by delivering a reduction of 33% in two years between 2016/17 and 2018/9.
  • More than 97% of all waste is now diverted from landfill.
  • Rigorous historical audits and invoice and budget management has delivered total rebates and savings of £170k over a two-year period.
  • Annual savings of 10.5m kWh of energy, 10,000m3 of water and 6,500 tonnes of CO2.

Note on the impact of the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted carbon reduction plans for most organisations, particularly within the public sector. For example, fresh air circulation resulted in air-conditioning usage increased, thus creating upwards pressure on carbon emissions. However, SCTS and Atalian Servest still exceeded the 2.5% year-on-year emissions reduction from the 2016/17 baseline.



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