Council jumps 300 places in the energy efficiency league table

Photovoltaic solar panels on top of the Grange, Chichester - photo copyright West Sussex County Council
Photovoltaic solar panels on top of the Grange, Chichester - photo copyright West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council has shot up a national league table for energy efficiency putting it above some of the country’s top businesses and most other local authorities.

In 2010/11 the Council was rated 322 out of 1,301 in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme run by the Environment Agency.

The latest league table for 2011/12 published this week shows West Sussex in 17th position out of 2,097 participants.

Only one other County Council is ahead of West Sussex in a league table that also puts the authority well in front of some major business names such as British Airways and Barclays as well as organisations such as OfGEM which regulates the gas and electricity markets.

“This is a really significant achievement,” said Michael Brown, West Sussex Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources today.

“It reflects the considerable importance we place on managing our energy consumption and reducing our carbon dioxide emissions.

“Not only is the work we have been carrying out good for the environment, it is good for taxpayers because we are also saving money on our energy bills and avoiding the need to purchase CRC scheme allowances at a very difficult time for local government finances.

“Our Carbon Management Team has exceeded the carbon saving target we set for three years in a row and thanks to a series of energy saving projects the energy bill savings are just under £465,000.”

Energy efficient measures introduced by the council have included improvements to heating, cooling and lighting as well as installing renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic panels.

A project to improve the heating system at County Hall, Chichester, led to a 32 per cent reduction in gas consumption in its first six months. Following the success of the trial, a further 75 tonnes has been saved by installing the technology across 12 further sites.

Lighting conversion projects across 70 sites are expected to save nearly 380 tonnes of CO2 and cost savings of £78,000 each year.

Solar PV panels at sites in Chichester, Bognor Regis, Horsham and Worthing have also contributed to 61.25 tonnes of CO2 savings.

And, during the last year, the County Council signed up for the AquaFund shared saving scheme, which provides a 100 per cent grant to cover the cost of water saving equipment and a bill validation and tariff analysing service.

In return, the County Council receives 50 per cent of the savings made, while the other 50 per cent goes to AquaFund to be reinvested in other projects. After the five-year contract period, all the savings go to the County Council.

It is estimated the County Council will save 20 per cent of its current water consumption over the five-year contract period and since June last year the council has shared savings of £44,500.

Another bonus from the scheme is that AquaFund donates one per cent of all its revenue directly to the charity Water Aid, which improves access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.

Council Leader Louise Goldsmith said: “I am really delighted at seeing West Sussex so high in the league table. The benefits to the environment are enormous as well as reducing costs.

“We also want home owners to experience the same and it is why we are currently developing the Green Deal scheme so that residents can install energy saving measures in their home, without having to pay for them up front thanks to a loan they pay back from the savings made on their energy bills.”