Council shows the way as carbon consumption goes down - and asks other businesses to follow suit

Press Release: 18/11/2014

Winchester City Council’s carbon footprint shows a downward trend - in line with the Council’s commitment to carbon reduction - according to its most recent statistics for 2013/2014.

Since figures were first recorded for the Council in 2009, there has been an overall reduction of more than 11%.

Meanwhile, analysis of published Government statistics shows that the Winchester District as a whole is moving towards its locally agreed target. Bob Whitmarsh of Winchester Action on Climate Change has completed his annual survey, finding that the District’s total emissions were less in 2012 than they were in 2005.

However, the decrease will not meet the target set by Winchester District Strategic Partnership of a 30% reduction between 2004 and 2015 even though average emissions per person are roughly on track – largely because the District’s population has increased significantly over the period.

Road transport contributes almost half (45%) of the District’s direct carbon dioxide emissions, even though emissions from private cars have been going down as engines are built to be more efficient and people adapt their behaviour.

The next largest cause of emissions, a fifth (20%), is electricity used by business and large organisations such as the councils, the health service, armed forces, the prison etc. The two reports show that Winchester City Council - responsible for just under 4% of direct emissions - is already doing well compared with others in the District.

As in previous years, the Government’s latest figures show that residents are doing more to reduce their carbon emissions than the business world. Between 2005 and 2012, electricity emissions from businesses and other organisations actually increased by 4.5%, and goods vehicles’ fuel consumption decreased by less than 1%, whereas fuel consumption by private cars went down almost 15%.

Mr Whitmarsh stated:

Clearly, there is huge potential for Winchester District to cut its emissions in future, but this will require recognition and action by commercial organisations, including both businesses and the public sector.

At Winchester City Council, emissions from gas and electricity consumption account for more than 70% of measured emissions. Electricity consumption by Guildhall Winchester was down 12% (52,148 kWh) in 2013 compared with the previous year. Gas consumption has fallen at the Council’s two main office buildings, by 50% (119,042 kWh) at City Offices in Colebrook Street and 60% (117,759 kWh) at the West Wing on Broadway. River Park Leisure Centre also contributed a reduction of 94,281 kWh (3%) in gas consumption.

Emissions that are recorded in the City Council report also include fuel and water consumption on Council premises and all vehicle usage on Council business, including staff travel and Park and Ride operations. 22% of carbon emissions arise directly from the refuse freighters and other heavy vehicles used to collect and deliver waste and for grounds maintenance services.

The Council has committed itself to reducing carbon emissions across the District, and employed its own energy manager to help improve performance across its properties. Initiatives over the past year have included replacing the lighting in Council car parks with energy-efficient LEDs, the introduction of electricity-powered cars and bicycles for staff journeys and ‘Propelair’ toilets in the Guildhall which reduce water consumption by 80%.

A rise in electricity usage at the underground car park at The Brooks was because of changes in the air handling (ventilation) system to improve air quality.

Cllr Jan Warwick, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, Health and Wellbeing, said:

We are keen for the City Council to play its part in the District-wide effort to cut emissions. Earlier this year, we approved a Low Carbon Route Map at Cabinet, and I will shortly be asking the Council to set new emissions targets for the next five years.

Our staff are looking for more opportunities to improve performance in this area as they produce business plans for the coming year. Winchester Action on Climate Change provides invaluable advice and encouragement to help us on our way.

I am pleased that the overall trend in our emissions reflects this commitment, even though we see the occasional ‘blip’ in the figures. We feel strongly that we should lead by example. We look forward to the next statistics showing that local businesses and other public sector organisations are slimming down their carbon footprint as enthusiastically as our local residents are.