Council ‘smashes’ its carbon reduction target despite increase in Borough Hall heating

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Mayor Dave Hodgson with Borough Hall Solar Panels
Since 2009, the council has installed solar panels on a number of its buildings

A lack of body heat from staff during lockdown meant Borough Hall needed more heating than usual.

This was one of the findings in the Annual Greenhouse Gas report presented at Bedford Borough Council’s Informal Climate Change Committee on October 4.

And the council ‘smashed’ its target of 40 per cent carbon reduction – achieving a ‘quite amazing’ 62 per cent.

The report was presented by Paul Pace, the council’s chief officer for environment, who said that the report is to demonstrate to the committee how the council is doing in its objective to reduce carbon emissions.

“We have three priority areas,” he said. “The first is the operational council buildings, the second is council transport and the third is business travel.”

“We did have an aspirational target of 40 per cent, we actually smashed that in the previous period,” he said. “We achieved a 62 per cent carbon reduction, which is quite amazing, really.

“We have implemented a huge raft of projects, many of them have paid back very quickly, bringing financial benefits as well as environmental benefits.

Mr Pace told the committee that the reductions have been affected by the pandemic, with a number of closures of public buildings.

But not all the council staff have been working from home.

“Parts of the business have remained ‘business as usual’,” he said. “Other areas, such as Borough Hall, saw a dramatic reduction in staff.

“One of the interesting things, once a majority started working from home, was that the base temperature of the building dropped.

“As we still had usage of the building (police and other services) we still had to heat it. And because of the loss of heat from body temperature we had to heat it more.”

Although there was a decrease in electricity usage, he added.

Mr Pace said there was a 99 per cent reduction in business travel, predominantly due to using online services to hold meetings and training sessions.

“As we move forward, it is hoped that we can sustain that reduction in travel, we need to keep that momentum going.

Mr Pace concluded that although the report is “a good news story”, there are still many challenges to overcome before the Council is carbon neutral.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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