Friday, 24 October 2014

Reducing our carbon footprint

A few years ago the County Council, like many others, signed up to reducing its carbon emissions by 50%  by 2050  -  quite a long time off but I am pleased to say we are on track to deliver this target.

In making that commitment we became eligible for Carbon Reduction Commitment Payments.

So what have we been doing?

We started looking at our properties, what was formally known as the Corporate Estate.

By monitoring our gas and electricity and improving our buildings we have managed to reduce our consumption by 15% for electricity and 20% for gas. In doing so we have saved £521,675 in energy costs and £32,569 in Carbon Reduction Commitment payments – sums certainly not to be sniffed at and we have also saved 2,714 tonnes of carbon.

We all know that savings can be made in shopping around for gas and electricity suppliers and that is what we as a County Council do all the time but we have gone one step further as we belong to a collective purchasing consortium called Laser.  It means that, through this consortium, we can certainly get the very best price and last year our energy costs were £630,000 less than if we had bought it independently at the national average price.

As for water consumption, well, we do need to be careful with our water usage and as we are on water meters every drop counts. Working with Aquafund helped us manage our water usage. To date we have reduced consumption by 25% and made saving of £284, 309 which was shared with Aquafund. So we have saved water and money!

As this is a sunny county it makes sense to invest in solar energy which is why we have installed solar PV panels across suitable offices, fires stations and libraries. Last year the electricity from 28 installations was almost enough to power all our fire stations.

So it really does pay to put your house or corporate estate in order by carefully monitoring the use of gas, electricity and water, as it saves money and when we are looking at finding a further £124 million in savings every little helps as they say.

However, we won’t stop and will continue to look at ways of making more savings and driving out costs.   

These savings may help towards investing in our front line services, but we have also reduced our carbon emissions which helps our planet.

Ten years ago we started a Car Share Scheme. 3,730 workers in West Sussex have opted to join the scheme to cut their travelling costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

School Travel Planning has been happening in West Sussex for 13 years now and we have delivered 180 School Safety Zones and have delivered many Safe Routes to School improvements.

Last year 8,660 pupils received Bikeability training to level 2. More than 60 people received level 3 or specific adult training.

Levels of ‘recorded cycling’ in Chichester have increased by nearly 7% since 2008.

And the Environment and Climate Change Board (ECCB) has been developing a West Sussex Food Plan. This, along with the partnership work that is involved has resulted in West Sussex being invited to be a member of the Sustainable Food Cities Network.

The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations that are committed to promoting sustainable food for the benefit of people and the planet. The Network aims to help people and places to share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.

West Sussex is only the 2nd county to be included in the network.

So, we’re certainly trying to do our bit to help.


Louise Goldsmith.

Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division

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