Winchester City Council partnered with Marwell Zoo and Biffa to install rooftop solar panels that enable both businesses to access green energy at a reduced rate. These flagship projects are providing a model to inspire other local businesses.
We declared a climate emergency in 2019 with two specific goals – to be carbon neutral as a council by 2024 and to support the district in becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The second goal is more challenging and requires huge engagement from Winchester residents, businesses, and institutions. As a council, it’s important for us to provide leadership and pave the way for those we support. One of our key focus areas is commercial energy consumption – which represents a significant proportion of our emissions – so we developed a project that would help two local businesses to access affordable green energy and provide a template for others to follow.
We worked with two very different organisations to bring this project to life. The first was a local attraction with a strong focus on conservation and environmental issues, Marwell Zoo, and the second was waste management leader, Biffa. Though working across very different industries, both businesses have significant energy needs and the installation of rooftop solar on their sites represented a great opportunity to cut carbon and deliver financial savings. The project has reduced combined carbon emissions across both sites by 14 tonnes.
The initiative was partially funded (50%) by our Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and has been vital in increasing business confidence, proving that it is possible to become more sustainable and reduce energy costs through rooftop solar. Through two successful installations, we were able to demonstrate that this type of project is financially viable and provide a template that local businesses can implement independently. We’ve already received a lot of queries from organisations that are interested in developing similar projects.
These solar installations were shaped and driven by the late Lynda Murphy, a Winchester city councillor who was incredibly passionate about bringing them to life as part of a wider jigsaw of actions to reduce carbon and tackle climate change locally. Lynda passed away in December 2021, but this project – and many others like it – are an important part of her legacy.
Call on the experience of others – As a smaller council, with limited resources, the support of others who had already walked this path was vital. We engaged with Portsmouth City Council – who have been undertaking projects like this for a number of years – to understand their processes and the pitfalls they have faced.
Get advice and learn from others – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Get ready to take the next step on sustainability – It’s important for businesses to consider how they can go further to support carbon reduction. Many local businesses tell us they have already made some changes – reducing waste, installing LED lighting, etc – and now they are ready to take bigger steps forward on carbon reduction and accessing renewable energy, especially as energy prices rise. We’re also hearing that sustainable credentials have become increasingly important in a competitive recruitment market.
Engagement and interest across the business community