A 37% cut in Reading Borough Council’s carbon footprint is estimated to have saved £5.5 million in energ y costs since 2008.
Year-on-year carbon emissions produced by the Council fell by nearly 11% in 2015/16, saving the Reading Council tax payer around £900,000. It means the Council is ahead of target as it aims to half its carbon footprint by 2020.
The latest figures are outlined in a report to the Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee (SEPT) on November 23, found at http://www.reading.gov.uk/article/9626/Strategic-Environment-Planning–Transport-Committee-23-NOV-2016 (item 10).
Councillors will also be told on the night about the Council’s increasing reliance on renewable energy. In 2015 renewable energy accounted for the equivalent of 3.7% of the total energy used of the Council. By 2020 the Council is aiming for that figure to reach 15%.
The SEPT Committee report includes detail on how the Council has reached a 36.9% reduction in its carbon footprint since 2008. This includes:
- A £1.2 million investment in 94 low carbon technologies (through its SALIX fund)
- The installation of 2,500 solar panels on 40 council, community and school buildings
- Solar panels placed on 457 Council houses, meaning free electricity for tenants and Council payments from the feed-in-tariff
- Relocating the Civic Offices to Bridge Street, resulting in a 57% reduction in energy costs compared to the old Civic Centre
Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Once again the figures show the tremendous work which is taking place to reduce the carbon emissions the Council has control over, and the subsequent benefit to the public purse. The 11% year on year decrease is significant, as it builds on large reductions in previous years.
“The Council’s on going investment on low carbon technologies is making a real difference and this is the first year that we are beginning to see the positive impact of the Council moving out of the old Civic Centre and into a refurbished energy efficient building, resulting in an astonishing 57% fall in energy costs.”
Reading Borough Council is now planning further energy reduction initiatives as it looks to cut its carbon footprint by another 13% in order to reach its 50% target by 2020. Initiatives include:
- The continuing upgrade of street lighting to LED technology resulting in significant energy savings and reductions in emissions
- Further investment in new technologies through SALIX, including upgrading insulation, fitting modern boilers and adding LED lighting to more Council buildings
- Inclusion of the recently completed solar housing and biomass heat generation projects at Cedar Court, the Council-run extra care facility in Whitley.
- Continuing investment in the bus fleet by the Council-owned Reading Buses, who replace around 10% of vehicles every year. Vehicles entering the service this year include the first five Compressed Natural Gas double decker buses in the UK
- Reading Borough Council’s ‘Carbon Plan, 2015-2020’, was approved in 2015. The Reading Climate Change Partnership’s strategy ‘Reading means business on Climate Change’ furthers the Council’s commitment.
Progress made by the partnership is the subject of a separate report to SEPT committee on November 23 at http://www.reading.gov.uk/article/9626/Strategic-Environment-Planning–Transport-Committee-23-NOV-2016 (Item 11).
The report focuses on a 32% drop carbon emissions produced by Reading as a whole between 2005 and 2014, and 38% less per head of population. This is ahead of target, the best in Berkshire and the 5th best performance in the South East out of 74 local authorities. Nationally Reading’s is the 27th best performance out of 408 local authorities reported, in terms of the reduction per head of population.
There have been a number of key successes in the delivery of the Climate Change Strategy to date including: the completion of the large solar panel project on Reading’s Council housing; the start of the roll out of LED streetlights across the borough; a significant increase in the number of low carbon CNG buses added to the Reading Buses fleet and; the formation of Reading’s first Community Energy Society.
The Reading Climate Change Strategy includes a set of strategic priorities under eight key themes which are delivered by partners, of which Reading Borough Council is one. The eight key themes are:
• Energy Supply
• Low Carbon Development
• Natural Environment
• Water Supply and Flooding
• Purchasing, Supply and Consumption
• Education, Communication and Influencing Behaviour
Councillor Tony Page added:
“As I have said before, the Council is leading by example in this area. By far the largest source of C02 emissions are from industrial, commercial and retail premises, with transport only accounting for 16%. Partners, local businesses and private individuals must play their part as well, and that is what we hope to drive forward through the work of the Reading Climate Change Partnership.”