Our carbon offsetting knowledge and experience
We have worked at the forefront of carbon offset development for over a decade, most notably assisting Milton Keynes Council establish the UK’s first carbon offset Local Plan policy (D4) in 2008.
As the council’s carbon offset manager since then, we have kept a watching brief on national and local offsetting research and policy development, and have co-ordinated a range of locally-based carbon reduction projects, which have achieved carbon savings in excess of 6,600 tonnes.
We have also used our experience to help Southampton City Council develop its carbon offset policy, and our work included a review and analysis of other English local authority carbon offsetting work.
In spring 2016, we completed a research report commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA): Review of Carbon Offsetting Approaches in London, in which we undertook a London-wide assessment of the carbon offset approaches taken by the capital’s 35 local planning authorities, and an examination of their progress.
Our team of carbon offset experts
We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise relating to carbon offsetting, and our experts have practical experience of a wide range of disciplines, including:
- Building energy performance and tools.
- Carbon reporting, footprinting and verification.
- Community renewables/energy efficiency management.
- Energy and climate change in the planning process, including carbon offset.
- Energy modelling.
Carbon offsetting future
In London, from 1 October 2016 onwards, the Mayor has applied a zero-carbon standard to major new residential developments (i.e. 10 or more units). These homes need to achieve at least an on-site 35% reduction in regulated carbon dioxide emissions beyond Part L of the Building Regulations. The remaining regulated carbon dioxide emissions to 100% are to be offset through a cash in-lieu contribution to the relevant borough, which is ring fenced in order to ensure the delivery of carbon dioxide savings elsewhere.
For commercial developments, the policy objective is a 35% reduction in regulated carbon dioxide emissions beyond the Building Regulations and, where this cannot be met on-site, a cash in-lieu contribution is levied by the appropriate planning authority.
The Mayor’s Sustainable Design and Construction provides guidance on the collection and spending of the fund, with a preference for retrofitting publicly-owned property as this provides wider community benefit. Schools, council offices, public facilities and social housing are highlighted as buildings that could be retrofit most readily. Another option is to establish a borough-wide revolving energy fund, where loans are provided to local residents or businesses wanting to retrofit energy and water-saving measures.
Carbon offset services we offer
As a result of our long-standing experience and our recent work for the GLA, we have developed a detailed and broad understanding of all the issues around the establishment and operation of carbon offset schemes.
We’d be happy to discuss how we can use what we’ve learnt to help your council - whether it be:
- Advice and support in setting up a fund and sourcing funding.
- Support in initiating ideas, programmes and schemes to reduce carbon emissions.
- Managing and delivering a fund through local carbon-saving initiatives.
- Managing a scheme’s finances and ensuring compliance with the fund’s terms and conditions.
- Verification of any resulting carbon savings.
- Reporting to the council/Carbon Offset Board on a regular basis.
We have a broad knowledge of, and wide experience in, assisting local authorities in a variety of building energy management and community fund management projects. Examples include:
- Milton Keynes Council buildings/social housing (for example, the Lakes Estate in Bletchley).
- Other local authority buildings.
- Green Deal Communities project – a £2.5 million project to install solid wall insulation in hard-to-treat domestic dwellings on a street-by-street basis on behalf of 14 local authorities across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire (shortlisted for an award).
- Community funds for scrapping and replacing inefficient boilers; small energy efficiency measures for elderly residents; landlord subsidies for energy efficiency measures (Oxford City).
Our top tips for setting up and running a carbon offset scheme:
Carbon price. Don’t be too ambitious on carbon price. A modest fund can pay for more measures than no fund.
Project management. Don’t be afraid to pay for decent project management. This is a very important skill but one that’s often undervalued, until things go wrong! This is an area where we’ve had a great deal of experience and can help.
Benefits. Ensure that these are widely spread. Make sure that they’re not just available to those who can afford to pay but also to those who are most in need or require help to access them.
Additionality. This is also important. Don’t fund what would have happened anyway.
Realistic. Don’t be too optimistic. Take into account real energy-saving lifetimes and real-world savings.
Transparency. Be transparent. Keep all your stakeholders on board.
Measures. Concentrate on proven carbon saving measures such as:
- Boiler cashback or scrappage schemes.
- LED light bulb swaps.
- Retrofitting local authority housing stocks.
- Energy efficiency improvements to publicly-owned buildings – for example: libraries, town halls, schools and community centres.
- Subsidised wall and loft insulation.
- Landlord subsidies for energy efficiency measures.
- Improvements to communal heating systems.
- Project work on decentralised energy systems.
- Small energy efficiency measures and advice on how to use energy better for the elderly and those in fuel poverty.