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Top of the league

Source: Public Sector Executive March/April 2013

Energy efficiency is a key consideration for local government, with a potential for savings that can be reinvested into stretched services. Manchester City Council’s Cllr Nigel Murphy talks to PSE about their work to reduce emissions.

Manchester City Council was the highest scoring public sector organisation in the Environment Agency’s 2012 CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Performance League table, and ranked fourth out of all the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme participants.

PSE spoke to Cllr Nigel Murphy, executive member for environment at the council, about how it achieved its fantastic result.

He said the first step was “trying to get our house in order” – identifying everywhere that carbon emissions were being generated both within the city and the council.

Then, Cllr Murphy said, it can work out what to do to either alter the buildings, or change behaviours. This involved identifying current usage across a realm of buildings and operations, to pave the way for redesign of services.

He explained: “It’s about looking at the buildings that we’ve got and how we could use them better and more efficiently – that goes hand-in-hand with the challenging budgets we’ve had over the last few years. If we can do things better, we can save money at the same time.”

Getting the metrics right

Cllr Murphy continued: “The first thing is getting the metrics right; if you don’t know where it’s being spent, you don’t know how to save. That’s probably the hardest part.”

This data was gathered through the use of smart meters, as well as simply going through, “building by building”, to focus on energy efficiency measures.

“A town hall from the Victorian era is going to be less efficient than a new-build, so it’s been about working out where those savings can be made. It’s been a time where we’ve lost quite a lot of staff, so there’s been a rationalisation of buildings to make sure we’re keeping or investing in the right stock. Getting that mix right can be difficult.”

He noted: “Sometimes it’s worth investing to save and some small investment can have longterm dividends. Every little helps – in this case it certainly does.”

Incentive to change

Part of the strategy at Manchester City Council is to embed environmental awareness into everything it does, and considering CRC, the council has committed to reducing emissions by 41% by 2020.

“Each department has its own reduction plans – in the same way as financial budgets, they’ve got carbon budgets.”

The council is also providing carbon training to all members of staff to help them think about what else they could be doing to embed best practice. Both online and face-to-face, this will be rolled out before staff move into the town hall extension, and will be monitored regularly.

To encourage staff to engage in the challenge, the council has introduce the Green Impact Awards; a competition between departments about how to save carbon by doing things in a different way, which Cllr Murphy called a “morale booster”.

By saving carbon in this way, extra money can be spent in other areas, benefitting public services. Murphy warned: “If we don’t do something in public service, we’ll be having a lot of other greater issues. If the public sector can lead by example it becomes a lot easier for people to move forward.”

Learning to share

Looking towards the future, Murphy described work to increase the efficiency of the town hall extension, by considering partners that could share heat and data. He said: “[We are] looking at what can be done around shared data centres with other organisations, which could be public sector or private sector.”

True change was ultimately dependent on staff, he added, with the council “learning by example”.

“It’s great having new facilities, but if staff aren’t using them correctly, there’s no point in having it there. It’s down to everybody.”

CRC league table 2011/2012

The CRC 2011/2012 performance league table ranks the relative performance of CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme participants against the three weighted metrics: Early Action Metric (the average percentage of the proportion of non-mandatory CRC electricity or gas supplies and CRC emission coverage by the Carbon Trust Standard or equivalent); Absolute Emissions Metric (percentage change in the CRC Emissions of a participant); and Growth Metric (percentage change in CRC Emissions per unit turnover or revenue expenditure for an annual reporting year).

The total weighted score is the sum of the score for each metric multiplied by the weighting for that metric. The league table also ranks organisations on CO2 emissions by tonne.

Manchester received a total weighted score of 1887.70, with 51,908 tonnes of CO2 emissions and 88.5, 33.64 and 31.12 on the three metrics respectively.


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