Call for examples: DCN report with Localis on clean growth

A collection of good practice and information on clean growth.

Housing and the built environment

Your examples of setting ambitious high green standards for new buildings

On our Council housing stock, we have:

  • Set up over 2,000 solar panel systems 
  • Installed more than 350 air source heat source pumps
  • Improved over 450 homes with external wall insulation

Actions we will be carrying out on our Council housing stock:

  • Completing a stock condition survey to develop a new holistic and sustainable 30-year investment plan that reflects both normal decent homes type work as well as zero carbon work.
  • Continue to explore and trial technical solutions across building archetypes to ensure suitability and affordability for net carbon zero as part of the wider work of the Net Zero Collective.
  • Explore options of a zero-carbon new build scheme within the housing stock. Consider exemplar scheme to demonstrate new zero housing with an intention to monitor effectiveness.
  • Developing a plan to reach all Properties to EPC Band C by 2025 for relets and 2028 for existing tenancies and a further ambition to raise all property EPC bands to the highest possible for the property, within economical boundaries as soon as possible after.

Our new-build Council homes:

Our approach has always been one of fabric first, however wherever possible we are looking to deliver new homes that utilise green technologies. A large proportion of new Council homes utilise air-source heat pumps as opposed to traditional gas boilers. With the increase in the number of apartments we are delivering we are also increasing the number of MVHR units we install. This includes 57 MVHR units in apartments for affordable rent and shared ownership currently on site in Sawston. Where orientation allows, we continue to specify pv-panels on both individual properties and apartment buildings. Recently we have also begun to future-proof our estate by the inclusion of EV-charging facilities – where chargers are not yet provided the required electrical ducting has been installed.

On community buildings at the growing new town of Northstowe:

The Council is keen that the community facilities delivered by SCDC at Northstowe will be of high-quality and high energy performance. The four buildings are at different phases of development, the most advanced being the Phase 1 sports pavilion which will begin construction in the Autumn. This site will include the following green features:

  1. Air source heat pump system for heating and hot water 
  2. Photo-voltaic array  
  3. EV charger ducting including to future points  
  4. Waste-water heat recovery    
  5. LED lighting (fittings) 
  6. Permeable paving 
  7. LED lighting to car park

Experiences of any work you’re doing to utilise local plan policies to push modern methods of construction/greener tech in building

  • Our Greater Cambridge LocalPlan First Proposals (2021) consultation proposes a policy to set specific requirements regarding the energy needs of new buildings and how renewable energy should be used to generate that energy requirement. For those developments unable to meet those requirements fully on-site, the use of a carbon offset mechanism, which would be used to invest in additional renewable energy generation, is proposed.  Consideration is also given to the carbon associated with the construction process and the materials used to construct new buildings, known as embodied carbon, as well as reducing the difference between designed performance and as built performance, known as the performance gap, using Assured Performance processes.
  • This was guided by our Net Zero Carbon Study (2021) (produced by Bioregional, Etude, Currie & Brown, Mode  and available in our document library), which advises that new buildings need to be built to net zero carbon as soon as possible for to play its part in meeting the UK’s carbon budgets.   This will require rapid decarbonisation across all sectors of the UK economy, including the built environment.  Our evidence base makes it very clear that if we are to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, then new development will need to go further than the requirements set out in current and future. 

Transport: Your work to push electric vehicle uptake

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste

The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service (GCSWS) for Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) has made a firm policy commitment to decarbonise the fleet of refuse collection vehicles by 2030. Both Cambridge City and SCDC have declared a Climate Emergency, and each has established targets and an Action Plan to reach zero carbon by 2050. A key part of the decarbonisation programme is to replace the fleet of existing diesel RCVs (Refuse Collection Vehicles) as the current stock accounts for about 1,800 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Our approach at the Shared Waste Service is based on a joint commitment by SCDC and CCC to decarbonise the refuse collection fleet, in recognition of the fact RCVs generate the highest proportion of emissions that are within our direct control. The mechanism to achieve this is multi-faceted and includes: electrification and use of alternative fuel vehicles such as hydrogen and biofuels.

The first electric RCV in the fleet commenced operations in November 2020 – an eCollect from Dennis Eagle a UK based manufacturer.  The second vehicle, an Electra-Rotopress with revolving body uses a novel rotating screw design to gradually compact the load, and joined the fleet in June 2022.  This compaction method is also more efficient than the system of hydraulic rams normally deployed to compress the load.  The Electra-Rotopress is manufactured by Faun-Zoeller (UK). A third vehicle, an Electra – Variopress with compaction body is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2022.

All three vehicles use a variety of compaction mechanisms and also, static / on-board charging. This is intended to give the Shared Waste Service first hand operational insights into different types of electric refuse trucks and their pros and cons, which will then inform the further procurement of the most suitable vehicle types.

Technology is still very much evolving at this stage, e.g. there is no electric equivalent RCV in the market as yet that can serve the extremities of the Service area for which we currently use a 32-tonne vehicle and some of the electric vehicles available have restricted speeds that make them only suitable for urban areas; hydrogen vehicles are still quite expensive, in some cases costing twice as much as electric RCVs and the fuel (hydrogen) is uneconomical to produce at non-utility scale at present.

In light of the above our decarbonisation programme focusses on the use of electric RCVs (to replace diesel vehicles as they come to the end of their useful life), subject to the availability of electricity to charge the vehicles – we expect to roll out electric RCVs across about half of the current fleet within about the next 5 years, whilst also exploring and ultimately using biofuels for most of the remainder of the fleet, subject to the ready availability and supply of sustainable biofuel.

The intention is to attain a degree of full decarbonisation in the longer term based on a variety of vehicle types and fuels.

We are also learning and adapting the above approach as technology is rapidly evolving so we are trying not to over commit to any solution yet, that may then not be the most optimum – this is a challenge of being one of the first movers.

The Shared Waste Service operates from Waterbeach Depot, Dickerson Industrial Estate, off the A10, between the Cambridge Research Park and Waterbeach Waste Management Park.  The local electricity network has insufficient capacity to meet the charging requirements of the Councils’ entire vehicle fleet.

To continue the fleet decarbonisation programme and meet the Councils’ 2028 and 2030 net zero targets, there is an urgent need for an on-site renewable energy solution to enable charging of electric RCVs. The Service has embarked on the development of a unique solar PV and battery storage microgrid that is now at the detailed design stage and expected to commence construction in 2023, with support funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Public EV charging

We are in the process of installing Electric Vehicle Charging Points. Further details are in a recent report to our Climate and Environment Advisory Comittee. We are developing a short high level strategy document to set out SCDC’s position in relation to public EVCP provision. Broadly this has three main components:

  • Firstly, to continue identifying and delivering smaller scale opportunities for installing public charging on our own estate and with partners, and EV charging for our own tenants.
  • Secondly, to promote and support emerging alternatives to public charging  infrastructure such as charger sharing and EV car clubs/car sharing.
  • Thirdly in terms of wider public charging provision, the strategy will state our support for any wider strategy or delivery plan emerging from the County Council and/or CPCA, and for related funding applications such as the Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund planned for 2022-25.

Community-led projects

Our Zero Carbon Communities grant scheme funds community-led projects, 13 of which have been around behavioural change in transport habits, including setting up village e-bike schemes, a bike repair café, and installing bike stands (When viewing online scroll down to 2019 and 2020).

Manufacturing: Your experience of providing assistance/advice to businesses in emissions reduction

  • We have made changes to our procurement processes requiring bidders to answer questions asking what they are doing to address their environmental impact including their carbon footprint; and taking their responses into account in scoring bids. We also run supplier webinars for SMEs (held another last week) and provide advice on net zero carbon and the importance of addressing this.
  • Net Zero is an integral part of our support and advice to businesses in South Cambs
  • Our Business Support team has received in-house training on what sustainability business entails and how to guide businesses through reviewing their own activity, avoiding green-washing, making off-set last resort, making real/tangible gains in resource efficiency and improving environmental standards
  • SCDC has dedicated information on its website, clean growth is core to all business support comms and engagement including social media and webinars
  • The Business Support team includes a discussion about sustainable business in all its interactions with businesses
  • Like all Councils we delivered COVID-19 recovery grants for businesses, and supported many applicants to utilise funding for measures that will support a net zero transition e.g. Cambridge Food Hub awarded £50k – purchased additional electric vehicle – reaching more customers across South Cambs with zero emissions deliveries.

Land management: Any examples in assisting farms/agricultural business, particularly with relation to labour market/food security

As part of our first Climate and Environment fortnight in 2021 we partnered with Carbon Neutral Cambridge to put on an online event for farmers.  This featured a professionally made short film sharing the experience of five local commercial farmers on how they are adapting their farming practices to help cut carbon and double nature.  The film has since had over 4000 views and is being expanded into a crowd-funded documentary feature film. Find out more by viewing the film on Carbon Neutral Cambridge's website and visiting the Six Inches of Soil website.