In February 2019 Carmarthenshire County Council became one of the first local authorities in the UK to declare a climate emergency. Last year it became the first local authority in Wales to publish a Net Zero Carbon Plan detailing how it will work towards becoming net zero carbon by 2030. Here, the Council shares its story with Planet Mark:
Our Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Plan is a living document that adopts a pragmatic approach focused on reducing measurable, operational emissions within our control. The NZC Plan also recognises some of the wider actions that are taking place across the Council that contribute towards addressing the climate emergency as we recognise that we have a major role to play in providing leadership to encourage and support residents and local businesses to cut their own carbon emissions.
Non-domestic buildings represent the largest component of our operational carbon footprint (at ~70%). Whilst we had for many years secured significant interest-free funding via Salix Finance for energy efficiency projects in our buildings, our NZC Plan created an ambition and urgency that required a new approach to enable a range of energy conservation measures, and renewables, to be delivered at a greater scale and pace than was otherwise possible with limited in-house capacity.
We found a solution in Re:Fit – an energy performance contract that guarantees energy savings (kWh).
Under Re:Fit cost savings arising from installed energy conservation measures, or from renewable energy production, are used to repay the costs of the works. These savings are validated by ongoing measurement and verification.
Welsh Government Energy Service have adopted this model and are actively supporting the Welsh public sector to deliver carbon savings via the Re:Fit Cymru programme.
Qualifying projects receive up-to 100% interest-free loans via the Wales Funding Programme administered by Salix Finance.
In 2019 we chose Ameresco, an energy service company, as our preferred service provide via a tender process under the national Re:Fit Framework.
Following multiple detailed site visits, in-depth data analysis and discussions with occupants of the buildings, Ameresco implemented extensive Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) across our Estate. These ECMs include solar PV panels, LED lighting replacement, lighting controls, pipework insulation, building fabric improvements, boiler upgrades and water and heat saving technology, all of which will significantly reduce our carbon emissions, energy consumption and increase renewable energy generation.
We secured an interest-free loan of £2.4m to replace ageing infrastructure and optimising the running of existing equipment. This is projected to save £315,726 and 675 tonnes of annual CO2e reduction each year, with further phases being developed to help us reach our net zero carbon target by 2030.
Image: Unsplash stock image, Anthony Wright
Committing to become a net zero carbon local authority by 2030 creates an ambition and urgency for a range of energy conservation measures, and renewables, to be delivered at scale and pace – do you have sufficient in-house capacity and funding to meet this challenge?
We have limited in-house capacity and are grateful for the continuing support provided by Welsh Government Energy Service and Salix Finance to secure interest-free funding for a range of energy conservation measure in thirty of our buildings including schools. However, don’t underestimate the work required from you to succesfully deliver such projects.
Ongoing measurement and verification is an essential discipline to validate energy / carbon savings.