Climate action: energy, planning and housing

How can we act on the need to adapt existing properties to address the impacts of climate change – and plan for new stock resilient to these impacts? Are we integrating sustainability and resilience into our energy plans?

Climate change hub

Climate change - lga resources banner

Climate Change Sector Support Programme:  Regional Retrofit Action Plan Training

Are you a council officer tasked with delivering your council's ambitions for retrofit? This programme brings together officers of all levels to support them with developing the tools, skills, opportunities and capabilities required to help grow the retrofit sector in their region.

LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme:  Regional Retrofit Action Plan Training

Please note the Regional Retrofit Action Plan has now stopped taking expressions of interest for the programme. The programme is now in the delivery phase and the learning from the programme will be shared at our Retrofit webinar on 6 December 2022, 10am-11.30am.

LGA action learning sets: Building housing retrofit skills

Over six months in 2021 and 2022, 24 officers and councillors from Local Authorities across England were invited to explore, unpick and address the challenges of retrofitting domestic properties. The focus was on developing the skills required inside and outside the councils to manage and implement retrofit programmes, including co-ordinating internal and external stakeholders, generating demand from householders, and upskilling suppliers.

Councils can discover what was learnt through an executive summary of the programme, a map of the challenges and council case studies.

LGA Building Housing Retrofit Skills Leadership And Learning Programme, March 2022

Webinar: Building housing retrofit skills (July 2022)

This webinar was organised as part of the LGA’s green webinar series and shared good practice around retrofit.

Michael Veasey from Essex County Council talked about the Essex Sector Development Strategy, Richard Bubb from the Sustainable Housing Action Partnership gave a presentation on their Action Learning Set programme, and Ian Fitzpatrick from Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Councils discussed financing around retrofit.

Below is a link to a summary of the presentations at the event.

Blog: Building Housing Retrofit Skills webinar, 12 July 2022

Webinar: Building housing retrofit skills (September 2021)

This webinar shared a number of good practice examples from experts and councils who are creating local green jobs and skills in the area of housing retrofit. In this session, we heard about support offers, local research, experiences and valued perspectives on local climate action in the very important area of housing retrofit.

The Retrofit Academy explained their role and mission to shape retrofit best practice, share their technical expertise with industry peers, and advance the sector through their Centre of Excellence, while also highlighting the main retrofit challenges facing Local Government. Speakers from the London Borough of Lambeth and London South Bank University shared the results of a research project as part of the LGA and UCL Net Zero Innovation Programme which aimed to better understand the local retrofit supply chain and workforce, looking at how ready we are to really start with retrofit. The session also featured a speaker from Test Valley Borough Council who reflected on their journey having taken part in the LGA Leading and Learning Creating Green Jobs Programme.

You can read a blog post providing providing a summary of the event below.

Blog: Building Housing Retrofit Skills webinar, 15 September 2021

Webinar: Design in the Public Sector – Innovative approaches to low energy housing

The webinar disseminated design skills amongst public sector professionals and provided councils with a platform to share their insights and experiences of tackling climate challenges in housing. In this session, we explored innovative approaches to low-energy housing and retrofitting from the experience of different local authorities and other partners around the country:

The Design Council explained their programme of work with the LGA to explore net zero challenges with councils using design skills. Cheshire West and Chester Council shared their experience of taking a design approach to develop a low carbon housing pilot in West Cheshire. Local Partnerships shared practical learning from their climate response programme for domestic retrofit and housing retrofit guidance. Barnsley Council and Leeds Beckett University talked about their collaboration to design and oversee the construction and evaluation of a new, low-energy housing estate in Barnsley, using the latest research and innovation in insulation and renewable energy.
Innovative approaches to low energy housing - blog

Re:fit programme

Re:fit programme, run by Local Partnerships and funded through the LGA's Sector Led Improvement grant, helps councils implement energy efficiency and local energy generation measures to their buildings or their estate.

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy

Councils have long been at the forefront of the move to a low carbon economy by adopting energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This has already led to impressive cost savings and a wide range of additional benefits. As local government continues to suffer cuts to its budgets there is an even stronger incentive for councils to maximise the potential for energy-related income and savings. The following report sets out the scale of the financial opportunities available to councils from energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy

Renewable energy good practice guidance

A significant increase in renewable energy provision in the UK will be required if legally binding targets to be carbon neutral by 2050 are to be met. This increase provides opportunities for more councils to own renewable energy generating assets, either for an income stream, or to offset their own carbon emissions. The following guide aims to help both members and officers of councils who are considering asset ownership to understand the potential risks and benefits and how these can be managed.

Renewable energy good practice guidance

Planning for climate change

We have a range of support to help councils plan for climate change, for councillors, leaders and planners, which you can find via the link below.

Planning for climate change

Climate change - case banner

Enfield Council: Council housing heat pumps

Enfield Council have worked in collaboration with Kensa Contracting and Engie to deliver England’s largest shared ground loop array heat pump programme replacing electric heating, all in under one year and whilst the flats remained inhabited. The project serves 400 flats in eight tower blocks in Enfield was named District Heating Project of The Year at the 25th annual H&V News Awards in 2019.

Enfield Council: Council housing heat pumps

Warrington Borough Council: A commercial approach to public sector clean energy investment

In line with Warrington Borough Council’s plans to be carbon neutral by 2030, the authority have made significant headway through investment in renewable energy projects within and beyond the borough.

Warrington Borough Council: A commercial approach to public sector clean energy investment

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.

South Cambridgeshire District Council: Greening South Cambridgeshire Hall

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council: Urban greening - West Bromwich outdoor market

The West Bromwich outdoor market redevelopment sought to improve the visual amenity of the area, deliver against the Council’s climate change agenda and increase the economic impact of the market, which is at the cultural heart of the town centre. 

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council: Urban greening

Cambridge City Council: Bridging the gap to net zero

Cambridge City Council declared a Climate Emergency in February 2019 and in its new Climate Change Strategy 2021-2026 set a target to reduce the council’s direct carbon emissions (from its corporate buildings, vehicles and business travel) to net zero by 2030 and shared a vision for Cambridge to be net zero carbon by 2030

Cornwall’s first smart-grid enabled wind turbine

Cornwall has installed a new smart-grid enabled wind turbine in partnership with Centrica that will create enough green energy to power over 1,440 Cornish homes a year.

Cumbria County Council: LED streetlights

Since 2014, Cumbria County Council has invested £12.9 million in its LED Street Lighting replacement and improvement programme, replacing over 45,000 streetlights with more efficient and cost-effective LED technology.

Read the full Cumbria County Council case study

South Tyneside Council: Viking Energy Network Jarrow

South Tyneside Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019, making a pledge to take all necessary steps to make South Tyneside Council carbon neutral by 2030. The strategy captures the innovative approaches being developed to help to combat climate change, by developing a range of renewable energy schemes, minimising reliance on fossil fuels.

Read the full case South Tyneside case study

London Borough of Brent: Delivering modern services for local people in Brent

The Brent Partnership brings together four partners, with the aim of delivering private and affordable housing, sharing teaching space, and improving hospital and university services and facilities.

Read the full Brent case study

North East Lincolnshire Council: Smart Energy Greater Lincolnshire, supporting businesses and SME’s in their carbon saving journey in challenging times

Smart Energy Greater Lincolnshire is a £8.5 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Salix part funded project, providing ‘one stop shop’ free advice and grants for small/medium businesses (SMEs) and public buildings to boost renewable energy use and lower carbon emissions.

Read the full North East Lincolnshire case study

Northumberland County Council: Accelerating the delivery of renewable energy across the Council estate

Against a challenging backdrop, financially and politically, the council has been able to develop a robust response to the climate emergency declaration of 2019 and create a pipeline of projects to accelerate delivery in line with their emergency targets. As the target dates get closer, they are building capacity to continue the growth of projects that support the emergency response and will continue to deliver at greater pace.

Read the full Northumberland case study

Cotswold District Council: Co-production of a Net Zero Carbon Toolkit

Cotswold District Council secured funding from the LGA Housing Advisers Programme to collaborate with two neighbouring councils to plug a perceived gap in the market for succinct, direct and practical advice on how to achieve net zero housing, both new build and retrofit.

Read the full Cotswold case study

Telford & Wrekin Council: Publicly owned solar farm

In 2014, Telford & Wrekin Council became only the second local authority in the UK to build a publicly owned solar farm. It took less than 18 months between the initial plans being proposed and construction being completed, and was done so within budget.

Read the full Telford & Wrekin case study

Tewkesbury Borough Council: Solar PV on public service centre and car park

Tewkesbury Borough Council have successfully secured £284,000 of funding form the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, who are providing funding for public sector bodies, towards the cost of installing an air to air heating system at the Council's head office.

Read the full Tewkesbury case study

Cornwall Council: Cornwall biomethane pilot

Cornwall Council is piloting ground-breaking, highly innovative technology - developed by a Cornish company - to turn methane, derived from organic waste, into renewable fuel. Working with six of its farms, the project turns methane into 'better than Net Zero' carbon biomethane.

Read the full Cornwall case study

Gloucester City Council: Renewable energy

In December 2020 Gloucester City Council set a target to ensure its estates are net zero by 2030. They applied for Salix funding to carry out a project at a sports centre, known for its high operational emissions.

Read the full Gloucester case study

Forest of Dean District Council: Council office decarbonisation

Forest of Dean District Council is implementing a range of measures to decarbonise its Coleford office building, including installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage system and replacing existing lighting with LEDs. The project aims to demonstrate how decarbonising assets and operations can be economically viable and deliver long-term financial benefits to organisations.

Read the full Forest of Dean case study

Cheltenham Borough Council: What gets measured gets managed

Cheltenham are using Salix funding as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) to install a number of sub meters in some of their leisure facilities and listed buildings in order to measure and reduce their energy footprint. The list includes the Pittville Pump Rooms, the leisure centre and their town hall.

Read the full Cheltenham case study

City of York Council: Zero Carbon Homes Programme

A new build housing programme with all homes built to achieve zero carbon in use. The homes in the programme will be built to Passivhaus certification, ensuring high thermal efficiency. Residual minor heating requirements and hot water will be provided via air source heat pumps, with all other electricity usage offset by roof mounted solar PV panels.

Read the full City of York case study

West Sussex County Council: Supporting the energy transition in West Sussex

West Sussex County Council has a long-standing commitment to action on climate change and has pledged to make the authority carbon neutral by 2030. In the past decade, WSCC has almost halved its carbon emissions and dramatically increased the amount of renewable energy it generates. It now produces more clean electricity than it consumes in delivering its core activities, excluding schools. This has been achieved through an ambitious programme to build solar farms on council land, integrate renewable energy technology into council buildings and enable more than 80 schools to switch to clean power.

Read the full West Sussex case study

Brighton & Hove City Council: Hydrogen Sussex

Brighton & Hove City Council has been a lead player in identifying the potential of green hydrogen in the Greater Brighton City Region, setting up Hydrogen Sussex, a new body which supports and promotes the development of a hydrogen economy.

Read the full Brighton & Hove case study

Newport City Council: Community renewable energy for Newport

Newport City Council has been working in collaboration with Egni Co-op, a community organisation that funds and manages PV installation in Wales, to meet the target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. To date, this partnership has installed 6,713 solar panels across 27 sites (2.074MW) in Newport, with an estimated annual generation of over 1,900,000 kWh of clean electricity.

Read the full Newport case study

LB Sutton: Transformation Programme - responding to the climate emergency

The London Borough of Sutton has adopted an ambitious Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan. Supported by the council’s Transformation Programme, they are taking action to increase domestic retrofit, develop a zero carbon technical standards guide for all council led developments, and prevent the physical impacts of climate change through increasing access to green spaces.

Read the full Sutton case study

RB Kensington and Chelsea: Lancaster West refurbishment & Notting Dale heat network

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team and residents of the Lancaster West Estate (LWE) are co-designing and delivering a refurbishment programme that will transform it into a model 21st century estate that is carbon-neutral by 2030.

Read the full Kensington and Chelsea case study

Colchester Borough Council: Retrofit of Council headquarters

Rowan House, the Council’s office headquarters, is undergoing a holistic transformation to be more sustainable post COVID-19. Office space is being rationalised and rented to partners, the building is being retrofitted with low carbon heating and ventilation systems and the travel plan is being revised to promote sustainable travel to work and for meetings.

Read the full Colchester case study

Norwich City Council: Solar Together

Norwich City Council became the first UK council to run a public reverse public solar auction in 2015, with businesses competing to buy clean power generated by rooftop solar arrays on residential and commercial properties. To date, it has installed more than 4,500 kW of solar capacity across the area, enabling homeowners and business people to benefit from low group purchase prices.

Read the full Norwich case study

Lancashire County Council: Low carbon street lighting

Lancashire County Council have invested in Low carbon street lighting, through the county wide conversion of 152,000 streetlights to energy saving LEDs. Since 2009 the council has cumulatively reduced carbon emissions by over 86,400 tonnes, reduced energy consumption by over 48,189MWh and saved almost £40m in energy costs.

Read the full Lancashire case study

LB Waltham Forest Council: Retrofitting sheltered housing schemes

Waltham Forest Council retrofitted sheltered housing schemes by developing a solar-powered system that could generate and store enough electricity to power the lifts and LED lighting in communal areas, both day and night. Importantly, the installation was to have minimal impact on residents, while providing continuous flow of power to communal areas and deliver financial and CO2 savings.

Read the full Waltham Forest case study

Rother District Council: Energy project

Rother District Council wished to receive advice from a productivity expert on its Property Investment Portfolio and Energy project, seeking to increase income and create efficiencies through better use of existing investment assets, new investment opportunities, renewable energy installation and energy efficiency measures. 

Read the full Rother District Council case study

Portsmouth City Council: Savings on energy bills

Switched On Portsmouth was launched in November 2019 by Portsmouth City Council to provide a comprehensive service to offer Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant residents ways in which they can save energy and money in their homes.

Read the full Portsmouth case study 

Bristol City Council: Wind turbines

Bristol City Council is the first authority in the UK to develop and own wind turbines. The two turbines are predicted to generate 14.4 gigawatts annually.

Read the full Bristol case study

Sheffield City Council: Free insulation scheme

Sheffield City Council set up a free area-based insulation scheme that aimed to insulate all private sector homes by 2015 (council-owned houses are already insulated). They then launched a new ECO scheme.

Read the full Sheffield case study

Cornwall goes retro with heat pumps

In 2006 Carrick Housing began an ongoing programme to install ground source heating in rural properties that cannot get gas heating.

Read the full Cornwall case study

Climate change - resources from elsewhere banner

Local Partnerships: Local Authority Domestic Retrofit Handbook

Local Partnerships has produced the Local Authority Domestic Retrofit Handbook to support local authorities in their efforts to address domestic energy efficiency. This handbook brings existing resources together in one place and gives a suggested order in which to work through this material to assist with retrofit projects.

Building with Nature

Building with Nature, the UK’s first green infrastructure benchmark, provide a Standards Framework for developers and policy makers. The Standards Framework, created in collaboration with leading academics, professional bodies and representatives from industry and government across the UK, provides a clear definition of high-quality green infrastructure. Building with Nature also offer a voluntary accreditation mechanism that provides an independent verification that development and policy documents meet the Building with Nature Standards.

Energy Systems Catapult - Local Area Energy Planning (2018)

Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) have created a guide for energy planning in local areas as a way of mitigating and adapting to climate change. They cover the importance of energy planning and provide a seven-step process to create successful energy plans in the local area. This would help focus resources on ensuring that each local area in the UK is on track to meet their decarbonisation targets.

Cornwall Council and Citizen's Advice - Local Authority Toolkit: Supporting Fuel Poor and Vulnerable Households (2018)

Cornwall Council and Citizen’s Advice have collaborated to create a toolkit for local authorities and third sector partners to work together to reduce fuel poverty. This toolkit provides local authorities advice on how they can use energy efficiency to support vulnerable households. The guidance suggests how local authorities can use the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to declare certain households’ requirement to meet the eligibility criteria for affordable warmth. 

Centre for Sustainable Energy - Local Sustainability Energy Assessment Matrix (2017)

The CSE have designed this assessment matrix to help local authorities and other local energy actors to assess their area’s current performance and identify opportunities for improvement. The assessment matrix has five dimensions of action: domestic sector energy, commercial sector energy, fuel poverty, low carbon energy infrastructure and institutional ecosystem.

Good Homes Alliance - Overheating in New Homes (2019)

The Good Homes Alliance have created a toolkit on identifying indicators for overheating in homes, considering that overheating is set to increase with climate change. This toolkit provides 14 key questions that are key factors to tackling overheating and notably mention that providing cooling is not the solution. The toolkit also provides potential next steps, based on the level of risk estimated, as well as a detailed design guidance and risk assessment. 

Local Partnerships: Street Lighting Toolkit 

Given the significant cost and energy savings achieved from energy efficient lighting at a local level, Local Partnerships has developed a Street Lighting Toolkit, working closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Transport and other stakeholders. This will provide guidelines and a structured approach and process to support councils with energy efficient street lighting projects.

Local Partnerships and Cornwall Energy: Guidance for Local Government

Across Britain, councils are taking action to boost renewable generation, improve energy security, lower energy bills and support community economies by seizing opportunities to get involved with energy supply. By doing so, they provide customers with an alternative to the big utility companies and are capitalising on emerging trends in energy production and transportation. These place locally-focused energy ventures centre stage. 

Simply, we hope this guidance for local government will:

  • broaden comprehension within local government of the options available to them in developing a long term energy strategy for their organisation.

In doing so:

  • understanding the commercial opportunity available through becoming a local energy supplier
  • increase indirectly the investment in low carbon technologies through more lucrative commercial options
  • awareness of what time and resources are necessary to do this

By developing a fully-rounded appreciation of the various options available to it, local government can make appropriate and informed choices as to what the right energy strategy is for them, consistent with the values, policies and strategies of their council.

TCPA and RTPI - Rising to the Climate Crisis (2018)

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and RTPI have prepared a guide to help planners and politicians tackle issues around climate change and improve the preparation of development plans for local authorities. Within this report, there are local planning approaches that cover setting objectives, gathering evidence for planning and local planning approaches for adaptation and mitigation.

RTPI - Smart Energy (2019)

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have carried out research on planning’s potential to support the delivery of smart, clean energy and produced a report mainly for policy makers, decision makers and practitioners in planning as well as others working in built environment. The report provides the findings and its impact on planners, central government and local planning authorities. 

Woodland Trust