Council Cuts its Carbon Footprint by Nearly Half  

Reading Borough Council is on the verge of meeting a target to cut its carbon footprint by 50% – three years early.

Back in 2008 the Council set an ambitious target of a 50% reduction in the greenhouse gases it is responsible for by 2020. Latest figures show a 13% reduction last year. It brings the total cut in the Council’s carbon footprint to 45% since 2008.

In cash terms, it means the Council is estimated to have saved £5.8 million in energy costs since 2008. £1 million was saved in 2016/17 alone.

Looking forward, Reading Borough Council now intends to build on its success through on-going and new initiatives. These include completing its major street light upgrade programme, further investment in energy efficient technology and awareness raising through more training.

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“To be just 5% shy of achieving the target three years early is an outstanding achievement by everyone at Reading Borough Council. The 50% target set back in 2008 was a challenging one,  but in that time the Council has shown its continued commitment to investing in low carbon projects.

“The Council is not resting on its laurels and we now intend to build on this success. By March next year the Council will have completed its  street light upgrade programme though the introduction of 13,000 new LED lamps, cutting energy use by more than 50%. We will continue to invest in energy efficient technology through our successful SALIX programme and an awareness raising programme is being developed for all staff.”

A meeting of the Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee on November 22 will hear  how the Council has reached a 45% reduction in corporate emissions since 2008. Key initiatives includes:

  • A £1.3 million investment in 92 low carbon projects through a SALIX fund. 17 more Salix projects are planned
  • The installation of 2,500 solar panels on 40 Council, community and school buildings
  • 5,000 solar panels placed on 457 Council houses, meaning free electricity for tenants and Council payments from the feed-in-tariff. In 2016 the solar PV on these properties generated 1,006 MWh.
  • Major energy efficiency through the refurbishment of new Civic Offices in Bridge Street. In 2016/17, the energy used was 62% less grid energy than the old Civic Centre, with the carbon footprint reduced by 66%.
  • The launch of Reading Community Energy Society last year – a community share offer which installed 186kWp of solar panels on 10 Council and community buildings.

More details can be found at

As well as being 8.5% ahead of target for what are known known as corporate emissions, the SEPT Committee report also details that for the Council’s wider activities – which include schools and managed services. The carbon footprint is 28.8 % lower than the baseline emissions in 2008/09.

A challenging renewable energy target was also set to generate renewable energy equivalent to 15% of total energy consumed, by 2020. The total of renewably generated energy in 2016/17 was equivalent to 5% of the total energy use of the Council, or 7.1% of energy used in buildings.

Reading Transport Ltd continues to invest in its bus fleet to reduce the impact on the environment and improve its efficiency. Council-owned Reading Buses replace around 10% of vehicles every year. Last year vehicles entering the service included the first  Compressed Natural Gas double-decker buses in the UK.

Oscar Mortali

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