As climate change continues to shoot up the national agenda, it is vital that public sector bodies take steps to implement good carbon management at every level of their organisation.
Public sector organisations currently account for approximately four per cent of the UK's overall carbon dioxide emissions - equivalent to around 21 million tonnes - so the need for local authorities, NHS Trusts, and higher education institutions to take action to reduce their energy bills and cut their carbon footprints has never been greater.
Action, innovation and investment within the public sector will be crucial if the UK is to meet its stretching emissions reductions commitments. However, implementing proper carbon management can reap huge dividends for the public sector in terms of reducing energy bills, cutting carbon emissions and strengthening an organisation's reputation.
It also enables public sector organisations to set a good example for local residents and businesses, encouraging them to follow their lead by prioritising emissions reduction.
The Carbon Trust's work with the public sector shows that many organisations are already working hard to cut their carbon footprint but need extra support and strategic advice. Since our inception in 2001, we have helped 340 UK public sector organisations save £120 million in energy costs and cut carbon emissions by over one million tonnes.
Our bespoke public sector Carbon Management programmes address this need by helping organisations overcome the obstacles that can hinder better carbon management, such as lack of resource and finance.
Launched in 2003, the Local Authority Carbon Management (LACM) Programme was set up to provide local authorities with practical advice on developing good carbon management practice. Its main objective is to deliver improved carbon management to reduce emissions under the direct control of the local authority, such as buildings, vehicle fleets, street lighting and landfill sites.
The programme also offers practical support to organisations by helping them identify carbon saving opportunities, providing tools to analyse energy consumption, and delivering workshop support for staff and senior managers to enable them to ‘embed' carbon management into the day-to-day business of the council. The programme is also supported by a bespoke toolkit: a web-based manual that gives detailed guidance on the programme's process, technical advice and examples of best practice.
The programme facilitates the sharing of best practice between local authorities, enabling participants to learn from each other's experience, thereby optimising results.
Following the launch of the sixth phase earlier this month, the Carbon Trust is now working with 207 of the UK's 468 local authorities on the programme. To date, the Carbon Trust has worked with participating councils to identify annual savings of more than £43 million and 865,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide for the sites involved - equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of approximately 80,000 UK consumers. Many of the councils involved have pledged to cut their carbon emissions by 25 per cent.
Improving carbon management not only makes good environmental sense but also generates significant financial benefits. This is particularly important for local authorities, given they have a responsibility to deliver the best value for local tax payers' money.
As climate change becomes more of a mainstream consumer issue, another incentive to develop good sustainability policies is the potential for local authorities to improve their reputation, both in the local community and among their peers.
Cutting carbon emissions, as one of the main contributors to climate change should, therefore, be a key priority for local authorities. Our work on the LACM programme has shown that more and more local authorities are beginning to realise that they can play a crucial role in climate change and by doing so save thousands of pounds off their energy bill, which can be re-invested into the local community. We would urge other councils to follow their example.
Sharing knowledge and experiences from all area of public sector is an effective way to move this programme forward. I invite you all to use this opportunity to communicate your examples of best practice whether you are involved with the LACM or not. I look forward to hearing your comments.....
For further information, please visit: www.carbontrust.co.uk
I would echo Richard's comments on the LACM programme. As an authority that launched on this phase of the programme this year, I have nothing but praise for the work of the Carbon Trust. Coupled with the linkages to NI 185 this programme has made my job of selling carbon management to senior officers and members a great deal easier.
Any LA wanting to reduce its carbon emissions can get a range of assistance from the Carbon Trust.
We have accessed their LA Carbon Management Programme, free energy surveys, help designing a staff awareness programme, SALIX matched funding for installation of carbon reduction measures, Partnership for Renewables assessment of wind energy potential on our land asset.
We have found the CT offerings to be well designed and applicable to local government context.
As someone who took part in the original pilot of the LACM and subsequently, 5 years later with another LA I would commend the LACM programme to any LA for the scene it sets to enable carbon management to grow in organisations. The CT on a wider scope has provided various services to both the LA's I was at from surveys, finance and staff training, here in Wales we have a formal agreement with the CT and all LA's. We are just about to embark on a progression of the LACM and are looking forward to the support being provided by the CT.
We have been throught the LACM process and Salix funding and are operating a Carbon Mangement Programme, making improvements on a spend-to-save basis. We've now taken the next step of encouraging other public authorities such as the police and PCT in our area to do the same via our local strategic partnership. NI185 is still a challenge however, especially in terms of obtaining information from and influencing the behaviour of services outsourced on extremely long PFI contracts. With government borrowing now at record levels the concept of PFI (getting the private sector to build hospitals, leisure centres etc and the public sector buying the services back from them to keep debt off the government's books, even though it costs far more in the long run) is looking more non-sensical than ever before, and causes a real headache for local authority carbon managers.
I am a member and an employee of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing Supply. I have focused on Sustainability and Carbon Management over the last year in my role at CIPS. It has become very clear to me that now unlike any other time before is the time to take the whole Carbon management issue seriously. I have whitnessed what benefits companies leading in the carbon management field have reaped. The utilities sector for example have not only invested in innovative ways of creating energy for use in their operations from waste products, but have also worked with the Carbon trust to create new energy efficient products, which they can now sell to other players in the field.
Legislation over the coming years will force companies to a greater extent to measure and reduce their Carbon footprint, which means all the direct materials taken into an organisation will have to be considered.
Business and organisations have to get to grips with this whole area sooner or later, and the evidence so far suggests that the early adopters will reap the rewards, gain competetive advantage and be in a much better position to manage their supply chains and reduce their costs over the coming years.
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We have been involved with The Carbon Trust for several years. The enormity of the task ahead at the beginning of the association was extremely daunting, not helped by a lack of resources. At last the message is getting through that something substantial needs to be done. As a floor authority, resources are still a major issue, but we have just submitted a bid for Salix funding and the initial indications for the success of this bid are good. We are now looking forward to implementing a major programme of long overdue energy efficiency works and producing some meaningful carbon savings. The build-up of pressure caused by CRC, CAA, DEC's and NI 185, along with new financial accounting regulations coming into force next year, will certainly make the pips squeak. Let's hope we are up to the task!
"Working with the Carbon Trust via the Local Authority Carbon Management Programme has really helped raise awareness of the importance of managing carbon more effectively within our organisation and also the link to the climate change agenda. The tried and tested LACMP framework is helping us more effectively manage the energy and resources we use as a large organisation and embed carbon management best practice across the Council.
We are in our first year of implementing our Carbon Management Programme under the LACM and have hit a major issue. 35% of our emissions are from our schools and we are seeking major reductions through the BSF programme. This is more problematical than would have been thought. Although there is additional funding for renewables and high scores required under BREEAM for Schools overall, Carbon emissions/energy efficiency still represent a minor part of the total (I believe it has just been raised from a maximum of 14% to 19.5% of the total and that is a maximum. There is a discretion as to the composition of the final total) There are horror stories of new schools being constructed where energy consumption has shot up to considerably more than in the buildings they replaced because of the emphasis on ICT without any concomitant energy conservation in hard and software specification and in use training/management. So any comments on how to address carbon reduction in BSF in general and in ICT in schools, especially extended schools where used as a base for community initiatives? Perhaps even more disappointing is none of the schools in the BSF in Wolverhampton has expressed an interest in being carbon neutral let alone carbon positive, not even the specialist Science school. Such basic issues as carbon/energy management and the science behind it doesn't seem to be on their educational horizons. We put forward a suggestion to the Carbon Trust about using LCAM/BSF here to develop curriculum support for schools. Still no response Richard?
On the wider benefits of the LACM, we have used it to approach the University in Wolverhampton, the Primary and Acute Care Trusts to recommend and support entry into their respective Carbon Management Programmes. (Not least, who believes the NI 185 is not going to become for "public bodies" not just Local Authorities, putting it in tune with the area rather than organisational biased CAA) The University has agreed to make a submission and the Primary Care Trust are interested but looking at the staffing to support it. The Acute Care Trust are setting their expectations on a major rebuilding programme similar to our BSF for schools. I expect similar problems so how are the Carbon Trust ensuring that carbon/energy issues are being properly addressed in major infrastructure projects, especially as they will need to deliver more than their fair share of the commitment to an 80% drop in carbon emissions enshrined in the Climate Change Act? Also, what synergies are the Carbon Trust looking for in their public sector programmes at the moment? Our experience so far is that they seem to work in isolation.
We started the LACM programme in 2007 and have seen some great results. It has been a very positive way to get members and senior management engaged with carbon management and they are now starting to see the financial benefits. The support from the Carbon Trust has been vital throughout the programme, having a third party 'expert' has helped us to push climate change mitigation up the agenda in the Council which will now help us develop our role as a community leader in the area. Having made significant steps to reduce our CO2 emissions by 25% by 2012, we will be in a much better position when the Carbon Reduction Commitment begins.