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Tackling our carbon footprint


We have an active programme to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings and vehicle fleet. This page shows the progress we are making and outlines some of the projects we are delivering.

How we are doing

Our carbon target is a 40% reduction by 2020. We have made good progress on this since 2008/09, as shown in the graph below.

Carbon management - annual CO2 emissions - graph

Summary of last year's figures

During the 2016/17 financial year (April 2016 - March 2017) we have reduced our emissions by 34% compared to our 2008/9 baseline.

Our emissions within this period totalled 69,425 tonnes, which is a decrease of 13.7% when compared to 2015/16.

In financial terms, compared to the business as usual energy and fuel costs if we had not embarked upon a carbon reduction programme, there was an annual saving of more than £12 million.

Where our emissions come from

There is almost nothing we do which does not produce greenhouse gases, from heating and lighting our leisure centres to collecting refuse or cutting grass. All of our services emit harmful greenhouse gases, which when combined, produce an overall carbon 'footprint'. Putting this into context, within our personal lives, we generate a carbon footprint by the decisions we make, such as how we heat and power our homes, what food we buy, what we spend our money on, and how we travel.

We report our carbon footprint to central Government as CO2 equivalent (CO2e), in line with DEFRA guidelines on reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. The scope of this report includes:

  • buildings owned and used by the council, including schools, leisure centres, library and offices
  • fleet vehicles owned and used by the council, such as refuse collection vehicles
  • staff business mileage, for cars, trains and air travel
  • street lighting.

 The scope excludes:

  • domestic properties and council owned housing
  • staff commuting to and from work
  • buildings owned by us which are leased to and operated by third parties such as industrial units
  • procurement of goods and services.
  

Annual Emissions (tonnes CO2e)

  

2008/9

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Scope 1

Solid Fuel (wood pellets)

91

111

152

163

143

153

124

35

79

 

Liquid fuels

511

744

978

663

379

617

790

70

56

 

Gaseous fuels

34,371

33,481

32,546

26,650

33,214

27,978

25,011

24,778

21,628

 

Vehicle fleet

11,596

12,022

10,531

10,319

9,973

9,622

10,550

11,287

11,547

 

Total

46,569

46,359

44,208

37,795

43,709

38,370

36,475

36,170

33,311
           

Scope 2

Purchased electricity (Grid)

51,399

52,391

50,442

46,807

46,839

43,055

42,571

38,550

30,969

 

Total

51,399

52,391

50,442

46,807

46,839

43,055

42,571

38,550

30,969
           

Scope 3

Business Travel

3,804

3,738

3,963

4,165

3,640

3,602

2,891

2,562

2,344

 

Electricity Distribution

3,996

4,148

4,062

4,000

3,700

3,681

3,281

3,177

2,801

 

Total

7,800

7,886

8,025

8,165

7,340

7,283

6,171

5,739

5,145
           

Total emissions

105,769

106,637

102,674

92,767

97,888

88,708

85,217

80,460

69,425
Annual change0%1%-4%-10%6%-9%-10%-5.6%-13.7%
Total change0%1%-3%-12%-7%-16%-25%-24%-34%

Our carbon footprint has been restated for all years in order to account for material changes to the conversion factors provided by Defra for company reporting purpose.

What we are doing

We are looking at a wide range of projects. These include:

  • an extensive street lighting LED replacement program.
  • £2 million to retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency
  • ensuring new buildings achieve a very high level of energy efficiency and monitoring energy efficiency changes using real time data and annual Display Energy Certificates
  • a dedicated team who work with schools to help staff and pupils understand their energy use and work towards reducing it.
  • generating renewable energy through schemes such as the Freemans Quay hydroelectricity plant and 35 solar panel installations.
Contact us
Sustainability Carbon and Climate Change
03000 265 545
Our address is:
  • 5th Floor
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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