To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting the formal response to the recommendations arising from the Scrutiny Board’s Inquiry into energy consumption in Council buildings.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented a formal response to the recommendations arising from last year’s Scrutiny Inquiry into the reduction of energy consumption in Council buildings, this was set out at Appendix 1.
In attendance for this item were:
· Cllr James Lewis – Deputy Leader of Council and Executive Member for Resources
· Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing
· Polly Cook – Chief Officer, Sustainable Energy and Air Quality
· Mark Mills – Head of Asset Management
The Board had undertaken an Inquiry during October and November 2019 in accordance with the agreed terms of reference. A report summarising the conclusions and recommendations of the Scrutiny Board was then agreed on 18th November 2019, this was appended to the submitted report.
Members were advised of the following:
· Recommendation 1- The Council is now able to separate out data for its electrical consumption in all our buildings. Data is also collected for the electrical charging points. Investment in more electrical heating would require monitoring to assess any impact, and this would be on a site by site basis;
· Recommendation 2 –The Council currently has 700 operational buildings with 200 of these classed as key operational buildings. The Council has a wide range of buildings some of which are heritage buildings. It was recognised that some of the historic buildings may not have scope to be used in the future. Asset Management Strategy is currently being updated and a report will be presented to Executive Board later in the year;
· Recommendation 3 – The Asset Management Strategy will consider the carbon footprint, asset reduction, spread of buildings and how they are used. The Strategy would also consider how we are currently working with more people working from home and also travel demands. It was noted that services may be required to work differently and this would be through digital means in the future;
· Recommendation 4 –To look at the carbon footprint comparing people working from home, compared to their commute into work. The standard Housing Database was used to see how energy usage changes for someone working from home between 9 hours and 16 hours a day. It was recognised that some people may not put their heating on whilst at home which would make savings better, but the calculations had been based on someone heating their home for 16 hours. The staff travel survey had been used to look at where people travelled into work from, including distance and mode of transport. It was noted that even in winter there would be a 1kg saving per day of CO2 and in summer 1.72kg of savings. It was concluded that heating the home more often was better than the travel emissions that would have been caused by regular commuting. It was also realised that there are different factors which could affect this and in the current situation there may be more than one person working from home therefore, sharing carbon and saving on two lots of commute;
Recommendation 5 – In early summer the Council was made aware of a fund of one billion pounds from Central Government, which is being provided through SALIX but as a grant not an interest free loan. This is based on the carbonisation of heating buildings not just Council buildings but any public sector buildings. It was noted that linked to the work already being undertaken such as the District Heating System there would be an opportunity to pull in more funding to maximise what we are able to do for the Council’s estate in the future.
Responding to questions from Members the Board was provided with the following information:
· Not all Council buildings have re-opened after lockdown. Those that have are Covid secure and are operating at around 20-50 percent capacity. Access and egress of building is through a booking and signing in system. Buildings which remain closed include Enterprise House and St Georges House. It was noted that Enterprise House is leased and that discussions were currently ongoing with the landlord;
· On school accessing the SALIX funding, it would not be re-payable due to the grant structure and discussions were therefore ongoing with schools to access the funding especially those which require new boilers;
· The transport network is currently run by private operators, but it was noted that there is sufficient money to keep services going;
· Trade waste is now collected in-house and is not collected on a pattern basis, bins are only emptied when required;
· It was recognised that working from home required a reliable connection to Wi-Fi. Members were advised that the Council had been working to improve connectivity in a number of areas of the city and there were a number of touchdown desks available for use;
· Feedback from the staff survey showed that of the 8,000 staff working from home 10-15% were struggling to work from home, whilst 80% said that they were happy to work from home half of the time. The reasons given for wanting to work half-time in a building was to see people and have the collaboration of working with colleagues. With this in mind it was the view that in future, buildings may require more meeting and collaboration spaces;
· In relation to historic buildings in the Councils estate, Members were advised that work was continuing to address the use of buildings such as Pudsey Town Hall and Rothwell Council Offices. There were a number of considerations including access, maintenance and local sensitivity around such buildings. There had been a commitment from City Development to work with local ward members on finding a solution for such buildings;
· It was noted that the book value of all properties that the Council own would be checked prior to going for sale, this would also inform which type of sale the property would be sold in. It was noted that there would be a reserve put on those that go to auction.
In light of recent issues with White Rose Energy and Robin Hood Energy, it was suggested that staff who had previously used these suppliers be encouraged to look at other providers to ensure that they were getting best value for money. The Board agreed to discuss this at a future meeting.
RESOLVED – To note the content of the report.