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Council makes energy efficiency switch to reduce carbon footprint

Published October 26, 2020 1.13pm

A North East council has been rolling out energy efficient measures across buildings in its area as part of a commitment to improving the environment.

LED retrofit project

(L-R) Fred Adamson, electrical maintenance manager, Cllr John Clare, and Mark Spence, electrical maintenance foreman

LED retrofit

Our in-house teams have been replacing lights in buildings and public places across the county with more energy efficient LED lighting.

The LED retrofit project is part of our Climate Emergency Response Plan, which has been helping to reduce carbon emissions, save energy and lower costs. We have also committed to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

On top of existing street lighting retrofits, the new lighting continues on from previous LED work that has been carried out by us and is being installed in over 400 bus shelters, newly renovated subways, and some schools across the county.

Over 12 of our main buildings have so far been retrofitted with new lighting, from business centres to leisure centres and, more recently, floodlights at Teesdale Leisure Centre. The project is expected to save 20 per cent of the carbon emissions by reducing buildings' electricity usage while generating over £60,000 in annual cost savings. 

Durham Town Hall and Bishop Auckland Town Hall, have also been retrofitted with LEDs.

Find out more about our Sustainability and climate change plans.

Reducing carbon in schools

In a further step, as schools account for almost half of the carbon emissions from buildings, we are committed to providing advice and guidance on reducing energy consumption through its Enlighten schools project which, in addition, secures funding for the works.

Crook Primary school was the first school to participate in the project, with carbon savings of 15,700kg of CO2.

The benefits of installing LED lighting in schools include:

  • An improved learning environment compared to fluorescent or incandescent lighting
  • Enhanced light for reading and concentration compared to non-LED, yellow lighting​
  • Improved light direction​
  • Better potential sleep for pupils as full spectrum light provided by LEDs triggers 24-hour hormonal response cycle​
  • Better working environment

Collective effort to tackle climate change

Cllr John Clare, our climate change champion, said: "Climate Action is not just about big things like greening the grid - it's about decarbonising every aspect of our lifestyle. Changing a light to LED might seem a minor improvement, but changing the lights in town halls, leisure centres, schools, and more than 400 bus shelters makes a big difference.

"And, of course, now, every time anyone stands in a lit bus shelter, it will remind them that we are working towards our target of becoming carbon neutral as quickly as possible. It is perhaps also a reminder that we too can contribute towards that target by making even small changes in our own lives; it all adds up."

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