Zero Carbon Craven is part of Craven District Council's £1.2m Zero Carbon Craven scheme to cut our carbon footprint to net zero by 2030. The project is 50% funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Energy use in buildings accounts for most of the Council's direct carbon emissions and Zero Carbon Craven is delivering a range of projects to retrofit a combination of carbon reduction and renewable technologies across the building portfolio.
It combines carbon reduction measures such as insulation and building controls with smart energy monitoring and large air source heat pumps for pool and space heating, as well as solar panels for renewable energy production. A new workshop building will have a large area of roof integrated solar panels supported by carbon reduction measures in its design and a heat pump system.
The Council is incorporating similar measures in the retrofit of an old school to become a community arts hub.
In addition, insulation, heat pumps and solar panels are reducing fuel costs for 28 households owned by Yorkshire Housing across the Craven District and in the Greatwood estate which falls within the 20% most deprived areas of the country. A small number of the households are having insulation installed, combined with an air source heat pump and solar panels to provide the electricity as demonstration projects.
One of the aims of the project is to inspire the local community through a communications programme which is being implemented with the help of a behavioural communications agency. There will also be public displays of carbon emission and solar electricity generated in the Town Hall, Leisure Centre and Council offices.
Before starting the project we looked carefully at our buildings to decide what actions would give the best carbon savings. We tried to understand the energy use as much as possible and use the concept of reducing and using energy efficiently by, for example, insulating and heating controls, followed by installing renewable energy.
We used expert knowledge to decide on what to install and to estimate the costs and carbon savings. Installing in historic buildings has been challenging but not impossible. We now have solar panels on our Town Hall roof, leisure centre and even our crematorium chapel.
Along the way we have worked with the local community, local companies and specialist organisations. Getting permissions and listed building consent for historic buildings was easier than we thought. One of the biggest challenges was negotiating with our electrical supplier to allow us to install a large array of solar panels on the Leisure Centre as well as a large heat pump system. Sitting down with them and explaining that reducing the solar panels did not make sense we managed to find a way forward. The cost of insulating the historic buildings was high but seen as a good investment for the future.
A relatively low cost but key part of the project has been installing online energy monitoring so that we know what energy our buildings are using and why. This is a game-changer as it changes the way the Council approaches carbon emissions from energy.
The Council decided to fund the project in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown on the basis that even with the challenges they were facing, addressing climate change was just as important.
Having a behavioural change communications agency on board is really helping in our messaging and work within our local community.
Looking back, we would get historic building specialists in earlier and apply for permission to install solar panels from the electrical supplier sooner. We are glad we were ambitious and that all those involved in the project and the foresight to keep going.
Savings in carbon dioxide emissions.