Climate emergency has been declared by councils in Worcestershire. This created an opportunity to bring together a unified set of targets that were shared across the districts of Worcestershire through the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Energy Strategy.
Climate emergency has been declared by councils in Worcestershire. This created an opportunity to bring together a unified set of targets that were shared across the districts of Worcestershire through the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Energy Strategy. A key part of these targets was decarbonising heat, which is challenging in the landscape of limited council resources, funding and capacity. For example, buildings applying for Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) funding had to meet hurdles for carbon saved in order to receive 100 per cent funding. This meant that fabric measures alone were not sufficient and that expertise was required to improve the approach and refine the bids.
The Midlands Net Zero Hub is fully funded by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and has the capacity to support the respective councils including Redditch Borough Council. This support meant that project funding applications could be prepared well in advance using building assessments, developing recommended measures and estimating their cost, carbon and financial savings.
Redditch Borough Council’s estate team compiled a portfolio of buildings including the Town Hall and others of community use that could be eligible for PSDS funding. With expert support through the hub, buildings were considered with bills and consumption data analysis, which enabled a priority short-list to be developed. Collaboration with estates and building teams was important and site visits were undertaken to understand which intervention options were suitable. Costs were then developed using BEIS standard rates and local supplier quotes and a robust financial case could be made with building energy calculations. This was critical feedback to council teams, who were then able to prioritise fundable projects. It also allowed effective combinations of technology, and approaches could be developed. For example, a whole building approach and mix of technology can be critical for carbon and financial savings.
Redditch Borough Council received £1.2 million through the Salix scheme for building fabric, control measures and a heat pump. The project will save approximately 154 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. A co-benefit it is that the town hall now provides a much better working environment for staff and the running costs will be reduced slightly.
- Technology combinations can be used effectively - such as initial fabric measures to make heat pumps more feasible, and the use of solar PVs and their income to subsidise other heat saving measures that don't normally show a return.
- Effective PR exercises will likely be needed for heat pumps to meet deployment targets given current perceptions and feedback, both for homeowners including social tenants and for council teams.
- There is a recognition that stating that an intervention, such as heat pumps, has a higher running cost is a sticky message and that people tend to assume this is a big cost difference - where in reality it may be very small.
- It was often the case that meters and control measures for community buildings (such as leisure centres) were not working effectively or were set badly – these reflect quick wins from good house-keeping in the community.