Leeds is half way to achieving its carbon cutting targets according to a new report.
The update on Leeds’ journey to becoming a low carbon city was presented to the council’s executive board recently.
Having set a target of cutting emissions by 40% by 2020, the report to senior councillors shows the successes to date in reducing emissions from the council’s activities and by others across the city.
Between 2008 and 2014 the council has reduced carbon emissions by 20% and city wide, emissions had reduced by 16% by 2013.
With significant environmental and financial savings to be gained, cutting emissions from key sectors like transport, will also help the city improve air quality.
Progress to date includes:
• Installing solar panels on council buildings and 1,000 council homes
• Including a gas fired electricity generating station in the Merrion House refurbishment
• Part time switch of 3,489 street lights at night and updating lights to LEDs in some locations
• Replacing council vehicles with ones that run on alternative fuel or that have low emissions
• Using Green Deal funding to insulate homes that are ‘hard to treat’
• Putting central heating systems in homes considered ‘fuel poor’
• Plans in place to expand district heating for council multi-storey blocks and installing a biomass district heating network
• Establishing an energy company to offer residents competitive rates
• Introducing the Leeds Standard to set a benchmark for energy efficiency, space and design standards in new homes
Many measures that are easier to implement have already been put in place and the report makes clear the scale of the challenge in achieving the next 20% of carbon savings.
The council is continuing to look at other measures like building a compressed natural gas station, installing charging points for
electric vehicles, better energy management in council buildings and reviewing the council’s corporate travel plan.
To help make these environmental improvements, members of executive board are being asked to adopt a new council-wide energy policy. Having implemented many low cost options to save energy, the policy has been designed to help manage energy use in buildings more consistently.
In addition members are being asked to endorse an action plan that supports the council’s participation in the European Covenant of Mayors, a group of local authorities who have signed up to meet or exceed the European Union objective of cutting carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.
Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said:
“Despite the policy and funding goalposts moving we’ve been able find innovative ways to help people cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions.
“This isn’t about being green for the sake of it or because it’s a nice thing to do. Getting our own house in order and helping others cut carbon emissions actually impacts people’s lives; saving money, improving homes and health and tackling fuel poverty.
“Clearly we still have a way to go. Despite the challenges we remain ambitious and if approved, our new energy policy and action plan will give us a clear path to make further improvements in areas that are more difficult to achieve.”
As well as projects to cut emissions from council buildings and help residents, businesses, communities and partners across Leeds are helping to reduce the city’s emissions.
For example, developer Citu have permission to build 300 zero-carbon properties, the low impact community project LILAC is up and running and the first direct arena has achieved ground breaking levels of energy efficiency for entertainment venues.
Trinity Leeds sends zero waste to landfill, Kelda Water Services powers part of their site with their new wind turbine while the University of Leeds have a range of projects to cut energy use and emissions.
A full copy of the report is available on the council’s website.