Pickles unveils low carbon blueprint

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will today introduce a report detailing how local government can save £7bn a year in running costs and cut carbon […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will today introduce a report detailing how local government can save £7bn a year in running costs and cut carbon at the same time.

Leaner and Greener: Delivering Effective Estate Management, has cross-party support and backing from the public and private sectors and has been produced as part of an inquiry by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum.

The purpose of the inquiry was to investigate how the public sector could improve the sustainability of its estate management. The inquiry’s recommendations suggest that if local authorities streamline office space use, sharing it with other service providers and local authorities, they can reduce their space requirements by up to 30% and save £7bn a year in running costs. Moreover, for the space that remains in use, local government can save a further £190 per m2 per year by following a suite of sustainability measures.

Matthew Hancock MP, chair of the inquiry, said: “Local government owns huge amounts of our towns and cities. On investigation, we often found poor use of that property, costing money and adding to carbon emissions. What we found surprising, is that where improvements have been made, the people working there told us that they had not just saved cost and saved carbon, but also improved services as a result. This report looks at case studies where bold changes have been made, and assesses how much can be saved from improving use of the buildings that surround us.”

Case studies where these management methods have already been put into practice are cited throughout the report, including Birmingham City Council, which will reduce the 55 buildings it uses for office space to eight, saving 50,000m2. One building in particular, the Lancaster Circus Council Building, has already cut 10,000m2 of floor space, generating savings of £3.5m per year in running costs, making a carbon reduction of 40%.