Carbon Management Plan 2022

Buildings and energy

The council owns a number of buildings which are used for a range of functions, including service delivery, heritage, community and civic. These buildings all require energy, and we want to use energy efficiently and effectively throughout our buildings. Our initial focus is on property that we own and operate, where we are directly able to influence improvements.

To find the best ways to reduce our carbon emissions, we are collecting energy data from the buildings where we control the supply as part of an ongoing review. This data will be used to assist the council in emission reduction measures which have the greatest impact.

When purchasing energy, the council buys collectively with other authorities and public bodies to reduce the risks of changing energy costs. This collective purchasing power is focused on increasing the supply of green energy, a very important step in our mission to reduce the property carbon emission quota, and there are opportunities for the Council to explore receiving all its electricity from green suppliers.

Non-domestic Energy Performance Certificates

Non-domestic Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are a practical way of measuring a building’s energy efficiency. Rated on a scale from A to G, with A being very efficient and G being very inefficient, these certificates help to reliably compare the energy efficiency of buildings. This also means that potential buyers, tenants, owners and occupiers can easily see and compare the information about a particular building. Essentially, EPCs help to inform investment decisions in terms of energy efficiency, and as a result, fuel costs.

For non-dwellings, two ratings are shown, the current rating and the potential rating. The actual energy efficiency rating is a measure of the building's overall efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the building is. From 1 April 2023, there will be changes to EPC regulations for commercial properties, meaning all let commercial properties will need to have an EPC rating of E or above. Landlords will be unable to let commercial properties with a rating lower than E.

The energy efficiency rating is based on the performance of the building itself, which includes things like heating and lighting. The certificate also lists the potential rating, and this indicates what can be achieved if all the recommended cost-effective measures are to be installed. Energy efficiency ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the building. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested measures will be tailored so that they are realistic for each building.

Evaluating buildings

An important step to take to help reduce our carbon emissions is to evaluate buildings controlled by the Council. This means thinking about the need for boiler replacements and the upgrading of lighting to LEDs. Additionally, thinking about the need for re-roofing, roof and wall insulation means that we can find places to save energy when it comes to reducing heat loss. Similarly, we will look for places where the installation of solar panel systems might be helpful.

There are a range of different interventions the Council could consider appropriate for each building's individual requirements, but the below provide the key methods for reducing emissions:

  • Led lighting
  • wall and roof insulation
  • replacement windows where possible
  • move away from fossil fuel boilers, including air and ground source heat pumps
  • improved heating system controls
  • renewable installations (e.g. solar PV panels)
  • heat recovery from mechanical ventilation systems

Building management systems might also be installed, where a building’s electrical and mechanical equipment can be controlled and regulated. This includes lighting control, heating, and ventilation, for example. Similarly, an evaluation of buildings might also include building rationalisation, where we look into ways to simplify buildings in order to improve energy efficiency.

Ways to save energy

There are lots of simple ways that we can save energy and it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce emissions. Even making small changes to the way that buildings use energy can mean big cost and carbon savings. To save our buildings’ energy usage, we need to:

  • Involve staff: The most effective energy saving programmes involve everybody within a business. Savings of 5 to 10% are common when all members of staff implement the measures detailed below
  • Control heating: In the winter, reducing heating temperatures by 1°C can cut heating bills by up to 8%. On the other hand, in summer, increasing the set point for air conditioning also saves the amount of energy being used. It’s also important to make sure that thermostats are as accurate as possible. This can be done by simply positioning them away from drafts and direct sunlight
  • Avoid wasting heat: Doors and windows should be kept closed when heating or air conditioning is running. Fitting draught excluders and making sure premises are well insulated should be very cost effective, with short payback times.
  • Minimise artificial lighting: Electricity bills and carbon usage can be cut by keeping windows and skylights clean, meaning that lighting will not have to be switched on throughout the entire day. Similarly, if only working in one part of a room, lights should be on in that area only. Making sure that light switches are labelled, so staff only turn on the lights they need, can also help reduce the amount of artificial lighting used. Furthermore, presence and daylight sensors are another effective way to reduce energy consumption, as they switch lights on and off automatically according to when people are in the room
  • Switch off office equipment: A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day can cost over £50 a year. Switching it off out of hours and enabling standby features can reduce this to £15 a year. Fitting a seven-day timer will also make sure that equipment like printers, copiers and water chillers are turned off overnight and at weekends.
  • Compressed air costs: Compressed air is often generated at maximum pressure. Reducing pressure by 10% can lead to 5% savings in energy. We will start by making small, incremental reductions, checking that operations aren't affected. Also, it’s important to regularly test for and fix leaks - even a tiny leak could cost more than £700 a year in wasted energy.
  • Motors: Because motors are hidden within machinery, they are often forgotten and left running when not in use. We can save energy by turning off motors during breaks or job changes. To make further savings, motors driving pumps and fans can often be controlled with 'variable speed drives'.
  • Maintain equipment: One common thing across all the measures above is the need to maintain equipment to make sure it's operating effectively and efficiently. This can range from cleaning light fittings and windows, to keeping ventilation and compressed air filters clean, to checking door seals and repairing holes and leaks. Of course, we need to think about any health and safety issues before creating any changes. For example, reducing lighting in an area of a building can make it difficult for employees to move around safely. We will balance our energy saving measures with full risk assessments.

Other considerations

The demolition and replacement of buildings plays a large part in fuelling the ongoing climate emergency.

In the UK, we lose more than 50,000 buildings a year through demolition, contributing to almost two thirds of the 200,000 tonnes of material waste the country produces each year. The construction industry alone is responsible for an estimated 20% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions, which demonstrates just how seriously we need to change tactics.

Repurposing existing structures for modern purposes

The shell of a building typically contains half of the carbon within a structure. Therefore, repurposing existing structures is key to creating a more sustainable culture. Instead of replacing existing buildings with new builds, we should first consider how to make better use of what already exists. This will help to reduce energy and resource wastage.

This focus on reusing and converting existing buildings can support the council’s wider strategic objectives, such as seeing council owned town centre buildings brought back into use for carbon neutral uses whilst also supporting the ongoing regeneration of our town centres.

As part of this consideration the council will consider the cost benefit analysis with respect to sustainability derived from alternative uses for buildings. Either by direct intervention by the council or a disposal of the asset for private redevelopment or community investment.


We have set a number of goals as part of our carbon reduction plan in council owned buildings. We will measure our success by calculating how much electricity and gas is used each year.

Short term (1 to 2 years)

  • Set up a new energy management system. This will improve our knowledge of how our buildings use energy and how we go about reducing carbon emissions.
  • Review energy supply contracts, and seek to rationalise those into single source supply contracts.
  • Include carbon reduction measures in our building re-designing programme.
  • Form an estate decarbonisation working group to prioritise high energy use buildings for energy reduction projects, and funding bids.
  • Install SMART meters on all council controlled sites for electricity and gas.
  • Obtain Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for all Council buildings where required to inform investment decisions.
  • Introduce an incremental estate energy improvement programme, using the existing planned maintenance programme to replace defective equipment with low emission alternatives e.g. LED lighting and efficient boilers.
  • Review building operating times to reduce energy use, with a view to reducing times subject to business need.
  • ​​​​​​​Ensure energy saving initiatives are incorporated as part of the implementation to the Council’s Future Way of Working strategy for the use of its corporate estate.

Medium term (2 to 5 years)

  • Create an Energy Procurement Risk Management Strategy and potentially buy 100% green energy for our buildings, where technological advancements make this possible.
  • Set up an ongoing programme of energy reduction projects across our estate, like insulation, lighting, boiler replacements, renewables etc.
  • Install SMART meters in council controlled buildings for water supplies.
  • Access grant funding to invest in estate decarbonisation, such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

Long term (5 years plus)

  • If the council leases a privately owned property for service delivery, it will only consider a minimum EPC rating of A or B.
  • Consider large scale renewable energy options, such as wind energy.
  • Linking with potential district energy schemes will be reviewed.

Last updated 05 January 2023