Leeds City Council has secured £25.3 million to decarbonise 38 publicly owned buildings, slashing the city’s carbon emissions by nearly 4000 tonnes.
The work will also help stimulate the local green economy, safeguarding or creating an estimated 338 jobs as part of the coronavirus recovery.
Iconic civic buildings, leisure centres, primary schools, children’s centres, homes for older people and offices across the city will all benefit from a range of low carbon heat and energy upgrades carried out by the council and partners.
Air source heat pumps, new connections to the district heating network, solar photovoltaic panels, LED lighting, and double glazing will all be installed by the end of the year.
The council has a bold ambition to reduce Leeds’ direct emissions to net zero by 2030 and halve the authority’s own carbon footprint by the middle of this decade. By reducing the council’s energy use the measures will save 3951 tonnes of carbon and save money for vital frontline services.
After identifying a number of ‘shovel ready’ green projects in 2020, Leeds successfully bid for the funding as part of the ‘Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme’ from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Some 3560 kWp of solar photovoltaic panels will be installed across 35 leisure centres, primary schools, and other council owned buildings. The panels mean that popular destinations including John Charles Leisure Centre, Tropical World and Temple Newsam will be part powered by renewable energy generated on site.
Leeds Town Hall, Civic Hall, City Museum, and Central Library will be among six properties equipped to use affordable heat and hot water from the household waste powered district heating network, adding to the almost 1500 homes and businesses already connected.
The funding will also mean that innovative heating technologies such as heat pumps – which extract low carbon warmth from the air or ground – will be installed at 32 primary schools and council buildings. The pumps will minimise the use of gas boilers which, in addition to saving energy and carbon emissions, will also help to improve local air quality.
Additionally, thousands of LED light bulbs will be installed across 15 buildings. Switching to low energy lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest upgrades to save money and energy.
Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: ‘We are delighted to have been allocated more than £25 million from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
‘Upgrading dozens of schools and council buildings to be fit for the future mean that we will be able to spend less on fossil fuel energy, and more on protecting vital frontline services.
‘This investment will also protect and create hundreds of skilled green jobs in local businesses, jobs that will be increasingly important as we work to build a sustainable economic recovery.’
Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said: ‘This announcement is great news for the environment and good news for Leeds.
‘We are on track to halve our own emissions by 2025 and by the end of the year, some of our most historic buildings will soon become our greenest.
‘More than a dozen primary schools will also benefit from this funding – paying less for energy so that they can spend more instead on educating the next generation.’
Steve Wilkinson, head of commercial projects for Cenergist, said: ‘Cenergist is delighted to partner with Leeds City Council to deliver this ambitious programme of decarbonisation projects. Decarbonisation of heat represents one of the biggest challenges for local authorities to overcome to achieve net zero targets, and through our extensive experience we are able to support Leeds City Council delivering a range of heat decarbonisation measures including Air Source Heat Pumps and water efficiency improvements.’
Pictured: Leeds Civic Hall.