The Investing in Nottinghamshire programme is a review and redesign of Nottinghamshire County Council's office accommodation to ensure it comprises modern, efficient, accessible buildings which are fit for purpose, future-proofed and reflective of an ambitious, 21st-century public service provider.
The Council is committed to effectively meeting the needs of local communities, supporting its employees as its most valuable resource, and creating opportunities for regeneration and growth for the wider Nottinghamshire economy, in addition to enabling critical service transformation and reducing overall revenue expenditure on property assets. The programme was approved at Policy Committee on 20 March 2019.
The Investing in Nottinghamshire Programme is to utilise the Council's property and land assets to deliver wider benefits, including a commitment to improve our environmental impact and reduce our carbon emission. This means high energy standards for all new builds, aiming for as near to zero carbon as possible (BREEAM Excellent or above certification) and making environmental changes to buildings which we retain with new Air Source Heat Pumps, solar panels, insulation improvements and Electric Car Charging Points. These improvements will provide low carbon heating and renewable power as well as other environmental benefits.
Under the Council's Smarter Working agenda, in the past year, the Council has saved over 1000 tonnes of Carbon through reduced travel and is moving to implement new hybrid smarter working meeting technology that will reduce travel needs. It is important to note that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the necessity to think differently about the way in which colleagues work, and is likely to skew carbon saving figures. Through property rationalisation and Hybrid Working, it will definitely serve to decrease the Councils carbon footprint but the extent to which that will happen has yet to be quantified. For those that do travel, new shower and changing provisions are being implemented to encourage greener travel by staff.
Funding of more than £400,000 has also been secured to reduce carbon emissions and generate solar power at two council sites: Gedling view building - old gas boiler replaced with a more efficient air source heat pump as well as new solar panel installation of new LED lighting; and Hagg Farm - based in the Peak District but run by Notts Outdoors, the building will see its oil boiler replaced with an air source heat pump as well as the installation of heat recovery ventilation and additional solar panels.
Many of the buildings from which critical services currently operate currently are now beyond their 30-year average life, not fit to deliver modern public services, and require substantial planned maintenance over and above the budget.
To contextualise the Investing in Nottinghamshire Programme, regeneration and property projects carried out by other local authorities were researched.Including:
Manchester City Council's 'Our Town Hall' refurbishment acknowledged similar issues to NCC's buildings, with it being an ageing building that needed 85% of the build fabric requiring immediate repair or replacement. The case aimed to move up to 700 staff into the building. It drove opportunities to create skilled jobs through high level apprenticeships in design, development and construction. It was designed to meet a BREEAM ration of 'very good' and/or SKA Gold - thus reducing the carbon footprint of the building.
Bath and North East Somerset Council, with its Keynsham Civic Centre new build, created a modern working environment that facilitates a workplace transformation, allowing a more flexible approach to working; thus improving communication, collaboration and efficiency. It is bringing investment into the area through the development of high quality facilities. This was the first UK office building to achieve a A-rate Display Energy Certificate and features of of the largest photovoltaic installations on a UK public sector building, providing 55% of the total annual electricity needs.
Both cases demonstrated opportunities for Nottinghamshire County Council to take action and deliver high quality, environmentally friendly office bases.