Why Saving Energy Means Saving Lives: RNLI Member Profile


The RNLI is a core member of the Fit for the Future Network. We catch up with their Estates Engineer, Robert Jeans, to find out about the charity’s current energy projects, future plans and how the Network has made a difference to them.

Why is energy important to the RNLI?

The RNLI’s vision is to end preventable loss of life at sea. We provide a 24 hour search and rescue service using 346 lifeboats based at 235 stations around the UK and Republic of Ireland. Our lifeguards patrol over 200 beaches in the UK and Channel Islands and we provide safety advice as well as inland flood rescue teams.

All this is provided, wherever possible, by volunteers and is generously supported by voluntary donations and legacies. We don’t receive or seek funding from UK central government.

Striving to reduce energy consumption and running costs will enable us to obtain best value from donated funds. So, put simply, saving energy helps save lives.

What does your current energy work look like?

Projects so far include 19 solar photo-voltaic arrays, 16 ground and water source heat pumps at new lifeboat stations, a wind turbine, and a variety of energy-saving measures across our sites. These low or zero carbon technologies are offsetting or displacing 5% of our electricity requirements.

And your future energy plans?

With another 300kW of solar PV in the pipeline and the ongoing addition of heat pumps to new buildings this figure is set to increase to at least 10%. Our long-term plan is to slow carbon footprint expansion, reach a steady state, then achieve year-on-year reductionswhile still meeting our need for increased operational activities.

How has the Network helped?

We’re a founder member of the Network and are already benefiting from the opportunities it offers. A behaviour change and engagement day hosted by the RNLI at Exmouth lifeboat station provided valuable insights from the likes of Global Action Plan and NUS. This will certainly help inform the way we work with lifeboat crews when designing new stations.

Fellow members, the Co-Op, have also provided us with useful advice based on their experience of installing LED lighting. Being able to tap into their knowledge will, we are sure, pay dividends on our journey towards achieving greater energy efficiency.

What have you offered?

We’ve been able to offer guidance to the National Trust as they planned and installed a marine source heat pump at Plas Newydd mansion house in Wales. As we’d already installed our own similar, albeit smaller, heating systems they were able to benefit from that experience and the lessons learnt along the way. We would recommend that other organisations sign-up and take advantage of the advice that ourselves and other network members can provide, and of course share their own experiences.