South Cambridgeshire District Council: Greening South Cambridgeshire Hall

As part of its Zero Carbon Strategy, South Cambridgeshire District Council has invested £1.9 million in a retrofit of its Cambourne headquarters, installing renewable generation and efficient energy management systems to dramatically reduce energy bills and almost halve the carbon emissions from the building in year one.


The challenge

To achieve the Council’s commitment to a reduction in the carbon footprint of its own estate and operations of at least 45 per cent on 2018-19 levels by 2025, and 75 per cent by 2030, in line with its Zero Carbon Strategy.

The solution

Plans to ‘green’ the Council’s South Cambridgeshire Hall offices on the Cambourne Business Park, its headquarters since 2004, were given the green light on February 5, 2020. 

Renewable energy specialists Bouygues E&S were commissioned to design, develop and deliver the project to make the building less reliant on fossil fuels.  Whilst primarily about ‘greening’, the project will deliver guaranteed financial savings, which, in the building’s first operative year, amount to £80,000.

Planning consent was given in September 2020, with work beginning in Spring 2021 and the whole project is expected to be completed by the end of the financial year 2022. The project is seen as a key and innovative one by Bouyges E&S as much as it is for the council.

The green energy measures are:

  • a ground source heat pump to generate renewable heat and reduce the amount of gas used on the site by at least 80 per cent
  • the installation of a solar car port to generate more than 20 per cent of the electricity used at South Cambridgeshire Hall
  • LED lights to save around 15 per cent of the electricity used in the building
  • a new building energy management system to better regulate heating, cooling and air conditioning systems and cut energy use
  • improvements to the building’s chilling system to cut down on the amount of electricity it uses
  • a more energy efficient fan system to move air around inside the building
  • 20 electric vehicle charging points to incentivise staff and visitors to look at travelling via cleaner cars.

The work is funded from the Council’s ‘Renewables Reserve’ which derives from Business Rates paid by renewable energy sites in the district and earmarked for investment in energy efficiency projects. This fund also pays for local community projects to reduce carbon emissions through the Council’s Zero Carbon Communities grant scheme.

The impact

As the electricity grid continues to decarbonise due to new renewable energy generation schemes coming online nationwide, the carbon footprint of the Cambourne building is expected to reduce to 25 per cent of current levels by 2030 and 10 per cent of current levels by 2050. This is an annual reduction of over 350,000 kg of CO2 per year to approximately 182,000 kg. Along with the benefits in reducing carbon emissions and cutting energy costs, there will also be a reduction in maintenance costs making overall savings in taxpayers’ money. The entire project is guaranteed to pay for itself within 16 years of operation.

The project makes considerable in-roads into the Council’s stated aims of its Zero Carbon Strategy to halve carbon emissions in the District by 2030 and reduce them to zero by 2050, including delivering the reduction in carbon footprint it has committed to in its own estate and enabling it to be an exemplar to encourage communities in the District to follow its lead.

Lessons learned

The project is being delivered by Bouyges E&S under the RE:FIT Energy Performance Contracting Framework agreement. Under the terms of the contract, Bouyges E&S assume ultimate responsibility for the project’s implementation and its ongoing performance, providing a binding guarantee to achieve the energy savings set out in the Investment Grade Proposal for the duration of the Payback Period. This has enabled the council to proceed with a high degree of confidence. Also, by locking in contracts and pricing as much as possible at the outset of the project the council has not been massively affected by the huge increases in building material prices caused by COVID-19 and Brexit disruption.

The project is looking to the future as well with an example being accessible electric charging bays.  Whilst these were out of scope for this phase, the cabling is being laid whilst the car park is being dug up which will allow us to proceed with this at a later date. 

Contact

Siobhan Mellon, Climate and Environment Development Officer, siobhan.mellon@scambs.gov.uk