Dorset Council celebrates as it receives £19 million of government funding to reduce its carbon footprint.
Councillors and officers are working hard on how they intend to update and upgrade Dorset Council’s properties using £19 million of grant funding, awarded by the government to help to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
This programme of work will be a major step in the Council’s ambition to become zero carbon by 2040 and accelerate several actions in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy Action Plan, helping to meet our 2040 carbon targets without total reliance on capital funds.
The money will go toward switching heating systems away from fossil fuels to heat pumps, improving energy efficiency through measures like insulation, LED lighting and the installation of solar panels on building roofs.
Last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. Delivered by Salix Finance, the national scheme offers £1bn of grant funding for capital energy saving projects such as making public buildings more energy efficient and installing low carbon heating measures.
Dorset Council’s Sustainability team, supported by the Assets and Property team, applied for grant funding to deliver low carbon projects across its estate, as this has been identified through its Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy work as one of the best opportunities for the council to reduce its carbon footprint.
It was the Council’s early focus on the development of a draft strategy before setting target dates for carbon neutrality that put officers on the front foot when applying for the funding, especially as these grants are being awarded on a “first come first served” basis.
By examining schemes and having several projects ready to help deliver the proposed climate change action plan, the Sustainability and Assets and Property teams were able to put the applications together quickly and make a robust case for why the money is needed.
Dorset Council will now develop a works programme for its properties in the coming months. This will include surveys for lighting, fabric, roof structure and solar, as well as systems design for heat pumps, solar panels, LED lighting, building energy management systems and fabric improvements.
The grant will also cover costs for contractors, consultants and work to deliver a retrofit programme of low carbon projects on selected Dorset Council properties. This programme will be targeted at four areas: –
- All properties supplied by oil or LPG, suitable for heat pump heating solutions
- Leisure centres eligible for advanced heat-pump technology for pools and air handling, as has been installed at Gillingham
- A selected number of larger gas-supplied properties where heat pumps or hybrid heat pump solutions are suitable. These will include some larger offices and Tricuro sites
- Installation or upgrade of our Building Energy Management System equipment across most of the estate, enabling improved or continued energy efficiency savings.
Each project will change heating systems from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps, but also backed up by energy reduction through improvements to building fabric (insulation etc.) and switching to LED lighting. Each building will also have renewable energy generation in the form of roof mounted solar panels.
The programme will lead to significant carbon and revenue savings for Dorset Council, estimated to be in the region of 3-3,500 tonnes of carbon per year (approx. 10% DC footprint) with revenue savings from reduced energy use in the region of £400k per year.
There are also wider economic and social value benefits through strengthening low carbon supply chains and the potential for growth in low carbon sector jobs within Dorset and beyond.
All works under this grant must be completed and commissioned by September 2021.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:
“I’m thrilled that we have been awarded this grant funding for such vital work. The £19 million is a huge help in realising our carbon-neutral ambitions as per our Climate and Ecological Emergency declaration and I want to thank Salix, BEIS and all the officers involved in this successful bid.
We were also delighted to discover that Dorset Council has received the largest share of this round of grant awards by a substantial margin. By investing considerable time and effort to get our approach right, we have put ourselves in the best position to successfully bid for this kind of central government funding both now and in the future.
Dorset Council has a leadership role in making sure our beautiful county becomes carbon neutral. This grant will not only fund a range of low carbon technologies within public sector buildings, but hopefully inspire Dorset residents and businesses to see what we’re doing and join us in tackling the threat of climate and ecological change.”