Feeds

UK media: 'Met Office computer will destroy the world'

Oh for f*ck's sake

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Analysis The UK media has plunged into an unusually cretinous feeding frenzy following the "news" that the Met Office headquarters complex in Devon - owing to the presence of a lot of supercomputing hardware there - is considered to lie at 103rd place in a table ranking nearly 30,000 large UK buildings by carbon-emissions footprint.

The Met Office's high-power computing gear "has made the Met Office one of the worst public buildings in Britain for pollution", we learn from the Telegraph. "It has now earned the Met Office's Exeter headquarters the shame of being named as one of the most polluting buildings in Britain", says the Times. Indeed, referring to one specific new machine, the BBC tells us that "it produces 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year" (must be one of those coal-powered computers). Most of the articles point out that the Met lads got their long-range summer forecasts wrong to boot, predicting a "barbeque summer" which has actually been rather a washout.

The "green league table of public buildings published by the Department of Communities and Local Government" which all these articles refer to is actually an xls spreadsheet obtained from the DCLG by the BBC's Martin Rosenbaum (not the man who wrote the news report above) and posted on his blog on Tuesday.

The spreadsheet (8.14 MB) holds information contained in the Display Energy Certificates (DECs) which most large buildings in the UK with any public access - not just government ones - have been required to obtain since last October. This includes the carbon footprint in terms of annual tonnes of CO2, part of which is direct (as in the case of onsite gas or oil heating, generators, combined heat-and-power plants) and part indirect (as in the case of grid electricity).

And indeed, if you lift the sheet off Rosenbaum's blog and sort by this figure, the Met Office comes out at 103rd place. The vast majority of the sites with a bigger carbon footprint are hospitals, but there are a few jokers in the pack: Ministry of Defence headquarters in Whitehall, Scotland Yard, the British Library, the Natural History Museum and the National Physical Laboratory - birthplace of the internet.

These would surely be worth a headline or two: "MoD is 46th most polluting building in UK!" "British Library/Natural History Museum is destroying the planet" etc.

Or anyway, they'd be worth a headline if the tonnes-of-CO2 figure meant anything at all, which it doesn't. Naturally a bigger building with more people and/or machinery in it is going to use more energy and be responsible for more carbon emissions than a small one. Hospitals are some of the biggest complexes in the UK which are visited by members of the public, so they dominate the rankings here, but that doesn't mean that hospitals are particularly significant planet-destroyers. A coal-fired power station, not included in this list at all, is a far more serious carbon emitter.

If you want to play this game and single out buildings for being environmentally evil, you should instead look at the operational energy rating. This is a number calculated by government formula comparing the building to others of its type in terms of energy usage per square metre. If you get a rating of 100, you're thought to be average for a building of your sort.

If we sort by energy rating, though, the Met Office has dropped to 215th most evil in the land - not nearly such a good story. Even worse, if you wish to cast the Met Office as evil now, you have to admit that those above it on the list are worse.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.