Lichfield District Council has been awarded over £1.3 million for energy efficiency improvements at Burntwood Leisure Centre, the Beacon Park pavilion and the District Council House in Staffordshire, following bids to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
It is one of the local authority beneficiaries of The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which was announced by the government this week as a part of its “ambitious” measures to create a low-carbon industrial sector and over £1 billion to cut emissions from industry, schools and hospitals.
Funds of £932 million will be directed to 429 projects across England. The scheme was set up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is delivered by a firm called Salix Finance. Its main purpose is to help make buildings more energy-efficient and support the installation of low-carbon heating.
Improvements worth over £1 million will be made at the Burntwood Leisure Centre including fitting solar panels along with energy storage batteries, installing an air source heat pump to heat the building and the pool more efficiently, energy-saving light fittings, and a range of other improvements to make the building more energy-efficient and reduce its impact on the environment. It is estimated that these measures will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the leisure centre by more than 260 tonnes a year.
Councillor Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, welcomed the funding, saying it would "help us make improvements at these premises". He added: "We are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the council and the organisations that work with us. This funding helps us take a significant step towards achieving the goals of our climate change pledge.
“I’m aware that this is an extremely competitive grant scheme with very challenging timescales so it is a real credit to both Lichfield District Council and our partners Freedom Leisure that we were able to secure this fantastic investment for our residents.”
Ivan Horsfall Turner, who is managing director at sports centre Freedom Leisure, said: “Minimising environmental impact is a priority for Freedom Leisure right across our organisation. The news that Lichfield District Council has been successful in their bid for a £1 million government grant to support an energy improvement project that will cut carbon emissions by 260 tonnes a year is fantastic.”
Work at the Beacon Park pavilion and District Council House will target reductions in energy use and the increase of the thermal insulation of the buildings at both sites. Work will include fitting air source heat pumps, improvements to heating management, replacement air conditioning, energy-saving lighting and new lighting controls as well as upgrading insulation.
Leeds City Council also has secured £25.3 million to decarbonise 38 publicly owned buildings, slashing the city’s carbon emissions by nearly 4,000 tonnes. The work will "help stimulate the local green economy, safeguarding or creating an estimated 338 jobs as part of the coronavirus recovery".
Landmark civic buildings, leisure centres, primary schools, children’s centres, homes for older people and offices across the city will all benefit from a range of low-carbon heat and energy upgrades carried out by the council and partners. Air source heat pumps, new connections to the district heating network, solar photovoltaic panels, LED lighting, and double glazing will all be installed by the end of the year.
The council has "a bold ambition to reduce Leeds’ direct emissions to net-zero by 2030 and halve the authority’s own carbon footprint by the middle of this decade". By reducing the council’s energy use the measures will save 3,951 tonnes of carbon – saving money for vital frontline services.
After identifying a number of ‘shovel-ready’ green projects in 2020, Leeds successfully bid for the funding as part of the ‘Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme’ from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). About 3,560kWp of solar photovoltaic panels will be installed across 35 leisure centres, primary schools, and other council-owned buildings. The panels mean that popular destinations including John Charles Leisure Centre, Tropical World and Temple Newsam will be partly powered by renewable energy generated on-site.
Leeds Town Hall, Civic Hall, City Museum, and Central Library will be among six properties equipped to use affordable heat and hot water from the household waste-powered district heating network, adding to the almost 1,500 homes and businesses already connected.
The funding will also mean that innovative heating technologies such as heat pumps – which extract low- carbon warmth from the air or ground –will be installed at 32 primary schools and council buildings. The pumps will minimise the use of gas boilers which, in addition to saving energy and carbon emissions, will also help to improve local air quality. Additionally, thousands of LED light bulbs will be installed across 15 buildings. Switching to low-energy lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest upgrades to save money and energy.
Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Upgrading dozens of schools and council buildings to be fit for the future means that we’ll be able to spend less on fossil fuel energy, and more on protecting vital frontline services. “This investment will also protect and create hundreds of skilled green jobs in local businesses, jobs that will be increasingly important as we work to build a sustainable economic recovery.”
Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said: “More than a dozen primary schools will also benefit from this funding – paying less for energy so that they can spend more instead on educating the next generation.”
Steve Wilkinson, head of commercial projects for Cenergist, the company which will help deliver the changes said "decarbonisation of heat represents one of the biggest challenges for local authorities to overcome to achieve net-zero targets, and through our extensive experience we are able to support Leeds City Council delivering a range of heat decarbonisation measures including Air Source Heat Pumps and water efficiency improvements”.