Edinburgh: striving for sustainability

Transport and Environment Convener, Cllr Lesley Hinds, has written for Government Business Magazine on energy saving measures for Edinburgh.

This is an excerpt from Cllr Hinds' opinion piece. Read the full article on Government Business Magazine website.

Achieving a sustainable energy future is central to our ambition to improve the quality of life for people here in Edinburgh. We know how much energy matters, particularly to those who struggle with its rising costs, and we’re also well aware of the impact carbon emissions have on the environment – on both a local and an international scale.

As a signatory to the Covenant of Mayors, which involves thousands of authorities across Europe, we have committed to increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in the capital, in partnership with our fellow signatories. We aim to achieve this through our Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), which has set one of the most ambitious targets in the UK - to reduce carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020. We are already making progress - emissions have fallen by more than 26 per cent since 2005.

By targeting five key areas – energy efficiency, district heating, renewables, resource efficiency and sustainable transport – the SEAP aspires to transform energy use in Edinburgh by reducing demand, improving efficiency and encouraging local generation. We have a range of new and innovative projects underway centring on sustainable energy, including district heating programmes, water sourced heat pumps, renewable energy schemes and sustainable transport initiatives.

Our own energy services company (ESCO), Energy for Edinburgh – an arms-length council organisation of which I am a director - is unique amongst ESCOs across the UK in that it will focus on sustainable energy, driving projects in energy efficiency, renewables or district heating. Set up to deliver the SEAP, it will have four principal objectives – to reduce carbon emissions, deliver affordable energy, generate income and encourage wider community benefits. Already the company is engaging with a range of key stakeholders in the city, including those in the private sector.

Addressing energy output

While the SEAP is our strategic energy plan and involves the city as a whole, encouraging businesses, voluntary organisations, communities and individuals to lower carbon and increase energy efficiency, we are also addressing our own energy and carbon footprint.

Towards the end of last year we signed a contract with E.ON’s energy efficiency business, Matrix, to provide upgrades to nine of our buildings including schools, the Usher Hall and the City Chambers. Changes involve the upgrade of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), enabling better control of heating and ventilation and new, efficient LED lighting, amongst other improvements. Not only will these cut energy costs in the buildings by around 24 per cent, efficiencies will help reduce carbon emissions by around 1,500 tonnes a year.

Read the full article on Government Business Magazine website.

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