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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Italians go casual to cut carbon
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

Eni head Paolo Scaroni
Will Eni head Paolo Scaroni go down to shirtsleeves?
Italy's energy giant, Eni, is reducing its carbon footprint with a ban on ties and jackets in the office.

The company says it wastes huge amounts of energy on air-conditioning so, from now on, staff will no longer be required to wear more formal clothing.

As a result, it says, air-conditioning units can be turned down a few degrees so the company can start saving energy.

In an internal referendum the 20,000 workers voted almost unanimously to leave ties and jackets at home.

The Italians have always dressed to impress, but after a week of hot weather even the snappiest dressers may welcome this bold initiative.

Stuffy but relaxed

In the past few weeks air-conditioning units across the country have been turned to the maximum, putting an enormous strain on the national grid.

In some places there have even been blackouts.

But the much bigger concern in these new, eco-friendly days is the carbon footprint left behind.

If over the summer months Eni turns the air-conditioning units down by just one degree, the company estimates it will save 9% of its energy consumption.

In the Eni office in Milan, that is 217,000 kW - the equivalent, they say, of 140 of their workers using public transport in place of their cars.

It is sometimes difficult in the formal working environment to encourage people to wear polo shirts and tee-shirts, but companies in Spain, Japan and China have also been experimenting, successfully, in the same way.

It is time, says Eni, for a more relaxed working environment - even if, as a result, the office becomes a little more stuffy.

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