Leading London’s sustainable revolution

Businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes are constantly striving to be more sustainable. It’s not just about ticking boxes; it’s about ensuring that all business and operational processes are designed with the environment at their heart. Local and national government departments are at the forefront of this drive.

Over recent years, Islington Council in north London has led a very successful sustainability drive and was one of the first local authorities in the country to set a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The council set up an Environmental Sustainability division that aims to improve the environmental performance of council buildings and the borough as a whole.

Setting a target

Islington Council is responsible for a large and diverse portfolio of over 170 buildings and their associated carbon emissions. With this in mind, the council set itself a target to reduce its carbon emissions by 15 per cent by 2010 (compared to 2005 levels). In 2007, its total annual CO2 emissions were already 4,929 tonnes down on the
2006 figure.

Islington initiated a £1.5m programme of investment to improve its energy performance, focusing on reducing both carbon emissions and energy costs over the short and long term. The programme concentrated on improving heating and ventilation controls, lighting upgrades, replacing older inefficient boilers and improving insulation levels. In addition to this, the council made a number of renewable energy installations at dedicated sites across the region. These include a biomass boiler, five solar thermal (hot water) systems and eight solar PV (electricity producing) arrays.

Energy health-checks
The team also carries out regular energy health-checks throughout the council’s sites, prioritising them according to their energy consumption and emissions. These checks involve optimising building control settings, obtaining data, highlighting any required repairs and potential investments, and undertaking follow-up visits. As well as physical investments, Islington also undertakes energy campaigns to reduce energy use through influencing behavior, one of which resulted in a reduction of over 5 per cent in electricity consumption at
participating buildings.

By the end of 2009, over 480 tonnes of carbon dioxide had been saved from these initiatives. To further help meet the carbon reduction target for the borough, a unique partnership was formed of businesses, charities and public sector organisations that are committed to tackling climate change.

Business Partnership
This Islington Climate Change Partnership was launched in March 2007. Signatories, which include Royal Mail, Linklaters, Arsenal FC and Scope, committed to reducing their CO2 emissions by 15 per cent by 2010. By 2009 the ICCP had registered more than 150 members, who have collectively saved over 7,000 tonnes of
carbon dioxide.

The council was keen to ensure that all sites adopted renewable energy technology wherever possible. To combat concerns over the initial investment costs, it initiated the Climate Change Fund to back the installation of renewable energy technologies in public buildings, social housing, voluntary organisations and private homes.

By the end of 2009, over 50 renewable technologies had been installed in buildings across the council, saving around 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Islington also developed ‘Energy Doctor in the Community’ and ‘Energy Doctor in the Home’ – outreach and home-visit programmes encouraging residents to save energy wherever possible. The council has also embarked on large scale cavity wall insulation work on council homes throughout the borough and in a small measures scheme in the EC1 area.

Waste management
Islington also focused closely on of the issue of waste management, increasing its recycling rate from 8 per cent in 2003 to 30 per cent in 2009. The average household waste per person has reduced by nearly 20 per cent, and the amount of waste sent to landfill has fallen by over 10 per cent.

Sustainability is about far more than just turning lights off; the council recognised that if it was going to commit to a full sustainability programme it had to tackle less well-known issue, such as food. The council committed £1 million to support the development of growing projects on estates, and schools across the borough.

Within the council, Islington appointed 90 Green Liaison Officers who run campaigns to encourage council staff to be more environmentally friendly. Campaigns include ‘Switch Off’ to switch off lights and office equipment, waste reduction including setting all printers to double-sided mode and providing recycling bins and composting bins for waste food, as well as ‘Cool It’ campaigns to help staff keep cool in summer without having to switch on
air conditioning.

The successful programme adopted by Islington Council was recognised by the London Energy Solutions Expo which runs The Innovation & Sustainability Awards (ISA), offering organisation the chance to promote their innovative and sustainable projects that support the effective and efficient management of a workplace. Last year, the council was named the Energy Solutions Expo’s Workplace of the Year, which it was awarded in acknowledgment of its efforts to promote sustainability throughout the organisation.

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