Reading Council is committed to reaching net-zero across its estates by 2030. At the end of 2020, we created a five-year carbon-reduction roadmap and identified our fleet as a key source of emissions. Bennett Road is home to the majority of our fleet, and site-wide upgrades were crucial to reducing our total carbon output.
A wide-ranging refurbishment project was proposed – including as many decarbonisation measures as possible – with the ultimate aim of creating a zero-carbon depot. We followed the new carbon approach: reducing emissions by refurbishing the buildings, decarbonising the site through electrification, generating renewable energy through solar power, and promoting future sustainability measures by making the site smart.
Work began with building upgrades across the site, followed by the installation of an air source heat pump and large solar array. These changes mean that the site is now fully electric. This shift was supported by a decision to implement Reading Council’s first fleet of electric vans and to replace all refuse vehicles with electric models. This is part of a comprehensive vehicle replacement scheme that will see 200 council vehicles replaced with electric models by 2028 – reducing carbon output alongside air and noise pollution.
We’re not only reducing carbon emissions, but we’re also harnessing the depot’s full low carbon potential through smart management. The depot is part of the Thames Valley and Berkshire Live Labs ADEPT Project in partnership with Reading University which explores the ways big data and analytic techniques can support automated and responsive carbon management.
It’s likely we will need to collaborate with neighbouring sites to fully realise net-zero carbon emissions, and we hope that Bennet Road will act as a living case study to help us embed carbon-reduction measures across other sites.
Consider space creatively – A big part of our project has been redesigning the depot layout to facilitate easy electric vehicle charging and maximise solar panel use. This has been key to increasing the amount of CO2 we can mitigate.
Ensure measures are considered in tandem – For this project, we have three or four different decarbonisation streams and it’s vital that all measures work together smoothly through the ongoing smart management of the site.
Engage external expertise – Our involvement in the ADEPT Project has provided access to experts who have offered invaluable insights. We’ve also worked with project managers and consultants to ensure that the right measures have been implemented at the right time.
Year-on-year carbon reduction.
Site energy consumption.
Miles travelled by sustainable (electric) vehicles.