South Gloucestershire Council has received an outstanding achievement award for reducing carbon emissions across its properties and operations by more than ten per cent over the last four years. It was one of eight organisations to receive the award at the West of England Carbon Challenge (WECC) Carbon Champions Awards on Monday 15th July.
The council’s greatest accomplishments in reducing carbon so far have come from implementing the part-night street lighting programme, replacing zebra crossing lanterns with LED lighting, replacing inefficient oil boilers and the consolidation of office space into more energy efficient buildings. Other savings have been achieved through better heating and lighting controls, reduced business mileage, a more efficient vehicle fleet and more efficient IT systems and servers.
The part-night lighting programme, which involves turning street lights off between midnight and 5am has already cut annual carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes and energy bills by approximately 20 per cent.
Almost half of the council’s carbon emissions come from schools, so it has set up an ‘Invest to Save’ fund to enable schools to borrow money at low interest rates to carry out energy saving measures. The loan is then paid back through savings on energy bills. The greatest savings have come from replacing inefficient fluorescent lighting with LED fittings and bulbs, which typically reduces the energy consumption by between 50 and 75 per cent.
Several schools including Parkwall Primary, Raysfield Junior and Tynings Primary have already signed up to the Invest to Save scheme and the council is currently in the process of completing further feasibility studies in nine South Gloucestershire primary schools. Additionally, two schools have taken advantage of the fund to replace their existing boilers with biomass boilers.
Cllr Adam Monk, Lead Member for the council’s Resources Sub-Committee, said:
“We are pleased to be recognised for our achievements to date but this is just the start of the journey for us as we have ambitious plans to cut emissions across the estate by a further 19 per cent by 2020 and across the area by 35 per cent. Our recently published Low Carbon South Gloucestershire Plan sets out how we will work with our partners and the community to achieve this and we are pleased to see that our partners at UWE and Avon Fire & Rescue Service also received awards.”
The Low Carbon South Gloucestershire Plan is part of the South Gloucestershire Climate Change Strategy that was published in April. It provides a strategic framework and short term action plans for reducing carbon emissions in South Gloucestershire and delivering the transition to a low carbon future.