BSA and LGA Webinar: Council and Business Collaboration for the Climate Emergency

The LGA has partnered with the Business Services Association (BSA) to deliver this webinar on how councils and businesses can work together to meet their carbon reduction targets.

This session, which took place in March 2022, was co-chaired by Cllr Andrew Cooper, Member of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation board’s climate change working group and green party councillor for Kirklees council. Alongside Stephen Beechey, Group Public Sector Director, Wates Group. The session was focussed on three different partnership case studies, where councils and businesses had worked together on green initiatives. The partnerships included Ben Finlayson, Head of Infrastructure Delivery & Facilities Management at Essex County Council and Mike Sewell, Director of Plan Zero at Mitie. Debbie King, Environment and Climate Manager at Lancashire County Council, was joined by Ezgi Kelleher, Senior Sustainability and Carbon Consultant at Atkins. Finally, from Exeter City Living, Managing Director Emma Osmundsen collaborated with Andrew Ash, Project Manager and Joe O’Connell, Senior Project Manager at Kier.

Partnership One: Essex County Council and Mitie

The partnership between Essex County Council and Mitie started in 2011 and in that time, they have prided themselves on the shared vision of success across many facets of the contract. A key part of that vision is the pathway to net zero and since 2020, Essex has started to firm its commitment to moving to a net zero estate.

ECC commissioned Mitie to develop a high-level strategy to reduce emissions and map out a pathway to net zero by 2030.  In this work Mitie identified the likely interventions necessary across the core and maintained schools’ estate to achieve this, providing a clear direction of travel for the coming years.  

In partnership ECC and Mitie have worked to gather information across the estate to build on the strategy and identify specific projects for delivery.  This has included lighting surveys, Solar PV surveys and many building condition and energy efficiency surveys across the estate.  As a result, ECC has delivered a large number of LED conversion projects and Solar PV schemes over the last two years, many of which have been self-funded but a number of which have been funded by PSDS Grant funding. By March 2022, they had been successful in securing funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) under phases one, two and three – and are currently working to deliver these projects.

These include Solar PV for 51 buildings, 31 schools and 20 core – 46 of these are completed. Having Mitie on board has meant they have been able to engage with suppliers easily and the procurement process has been cut down significantly, giving the council capacity back. Another 45 LED projects have been completed, and with all these projects it weaves into the capital maintenance programme.

What is the impact? By working together and combining resources and expertise, they have been successful in several different funding programmes. Some projects have been difficult to implement, air source heat pumps especially. A lot of joint working and seeing themselves as a partnership has meant that they are learning a lot.

Fabric first is a key priority to ensure building efficiency is maximised ahead of other interventions such as the decarbonisation of the heating system being implemented. This ensures that new systems are sized appropriately which reduces operating and install costs.

They have pushed for double glazing across their estate and have delivered a large number of grant funded projects in 2021/22 which will deliver significant efficiency improvements.

The aim for 2025 is to have reduced emissions by 25% and then lead on to completely net zero operations by 2030. ECC and Mitie see the crucial next step as gathering more information across the estate to identify all of the necessary interventions and then programme these over the coming years alongside the capital maintenance programme in order to deliver efficiencies and value for money. To do this, their partnership with Mitie will need to continue and go from strength to strength.

Partnership Two: Lancashire County Council and Atkins

Atkins was commissioned by the county council and the neighbouring unitary authorities to consider net zero pathways’ options. Lancashire is a diverse county with a great natural environment, which poses many challenges and opportunities, for addressing climate change.  The Council has resolved to transition away from carbon by 2030 and address the biodiversity crisis.  2030 was about making a commitment and accelerating action. The key question was how achievable is net zero by 2030? The council did not have the capacity or capability to do the modelling work needed to answer this question. They put together the scope for the study, which included a summary of policy and good practice, an assessment of the current carbon footprint and robust and realistic carbon reduction pathways.

A focus was given to looking at actions and initiatives they can take locally and explored a number of different roadmaps to getting to their targets. The pathways took into account, implication, impact, cost and capacity requirements. They looked at carbon removal actions, and quickly realised they could not achieve net zero before 2040. Even with high ambitions, it is important to start the actions as soon as possible – timing is crucial. The report looked into the detail of getting to net zero, but also provided a frank realisation for councils that action was needed immediately to achieve carbon reduction goals. Stakeholder engagement at every stage is essential – having their feedback and input at every stage was important. Every stakeholder will play a key role in achieving net zero together. Working with the grains of the region it was clear that no one-size-fits all plans would work for each local authority. Coming up with a specific pathway for each region was needed.

Climate change is a huge and complex topic, the scope of the project did evolve as they aimed to keep in line with changing government policies, updated data and partner strategies. The study doesn’t have all the answers, but it does set out the scale of challenge and helps to inform decision makers. In terms of next steps, the headlines from the study have been disseminated council leaders and Climate Leads. The findings will form the basis of further work looking at cost and deliverability, developing business cases for actions. This study is the start of the process to inform future plans and action plan going forward.

Partnership Three: Exeter City Council and Kier

The delivery of St Sidwell Point Leisure Centre was the result of a collaborative working partnership between Exeter City Council and Kier. St Sidwell Point is the World’s first Certified Passivhaus, Climate Ready and Healthy Leisure Centre built to exacting performance standards. The new sports facility, located in a busy city centre location is part of the regeneration of the former Bus and Coach Station into a new City Point development.

Exeter City Council has been the leading UK pioneer of Passivhaus development for the last 15 years and prior to the St Sidwell Point, Kier successfully delivered a 53 Extra Care village development for Exeter and another UK first. This is part of a much larger Passivhaus development programme of over 1,000 new homes to be delivered over the next 5 years by the City Council. 

The brief for the leisure centre included, a 25m, 8 lane competition pool, 20 m community pool, 150 gym stations, roof top spa and children creche and soft play facilities alongside a café and flexible exercise studios. The performance targets for the Leisure Centre were to deliver at least a 70% energy saving, 50% reduction in water usage and climate resilience to at least 2080. It is also the world’s first Leisure Centre to be designed to the German Building Biology Standard IBN 2015 ensuring the building is healthy for users, staff, and operators. To achieve these performance criteria, the Leisure Centre has some unique features, namely, south facing pool halls with internal brise soleil to mitigate any glare, zoning throughout the building and Ultra-filtration for ensuring exceptional water quality.  

The Kier team developed Passivhaus training for the supply chain in partnership with Warm consultants, which would provide participants with a Passivhaus passport. The main aim of the training was to educate suppliers in Passivhaus standards and enable them to deliver to the required standards on buildings of this scale. Mock-ups were used as a tool to help demonstrate the standards and measuring and photographing everything to create records was the way forward. There was a huge collaborative view taken across the whole board. Exeter City Council were helpful and supportive throughout the whole project and persevered in the context of the pandemic. All the people who have worked on this site can now use their Passivhaus experience and skills on other sites, they are proud to have been part of the construction journey and even posted photos of their work on social media. 

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