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Renovation for Energy Efficient Buildings (REBUS) project


REBUS is a European partnership project to improve energy efficiency of publicly owned buildings by exchanging best practice and experience.

Phase 1 started in April 2016 and ran until March 2021.

Phase 2 started in October 2021 until March 2023 and focussed on the impact of the pandemic on public buildings and new ways of working.

REBUS partners at Morrison Busty Depot

The project

Funded through Interreg Europe, phase 1 funding was worth a total of 209,546 euros (of which 85% is funding by European Regional Development Fund, and 15% by us). Phase 2 secured an additional 59,091 euros worth of funding.

The project led by the Resources Recovery Regional Agency (ARRR) in Tuscany and involves partners from Greece (Crete), Hungary (Miskolc), Poland (Krakow), Romania (Braila), Sweden (Malmo) and the UK (Durham).

Project Partner Steering Group meetings have been held approximately every six months, with each partner country taking turns to show their knowledge and experience within their area, and share learning with project partners.

Our involvement in the project

Our involvement has influenced several low carbon projects which were included in our first Climate Emergency Response Plan and the latest CERP2. Over the years there have been several study visits and online meetings enabling best practice sharing and learning across the partnership, which have influenced our way of thinking, the way we operate and contributed to the Plan.

Our overseas partners expressed an interest in learning more about the energy efficiency work that we do with local schools through the ECO2 Smart Schools Programme, a partnership between us and the Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists (OASES) Project, and the impact of the Big Switch Off campaign -  -  a project to manage the environmental impact of our buildings through energy and carbon management.

The ARRR adopted our Big Switch Off campaign for their work in Tuscany with building managers.

What we have achieved

We have established a very effective Local Stakeholder Group of national, regional and local organisations supporting the project and moving forward change. These include:

  • Durham University/ Durham Energy Institute
  • Durham Community Action
  • North East Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Voluntary Organisations Network North East
  • North East and Yorkshire New Zero Hub
  • Community Energy England
  • The Environment Agency
  • Coal Authority
  • Northumbrian Water
  • The Auckland Project
  • local community groups and residents

We have also:

  • contributed to the development of the  Energy Renovation Pathway guidance document - a planning guide for people interested in exploring approaches to energy efficiency in buildings
  • accessed information on new alternative energy technologies, in particular to renewable heat (mine water) which has influenced new projects
  • increased the ability and understanding of staff to improve building energy efficiency
  • changed previous regional and national funding policy to emphasise the impact of behavioural change within energy efficiency projects
  • unlocked renewable heat opportunities across the County - we were able to visit the mine water heat project in Heerlen in the Netherlands and learn about installing major mine water heat networks
  • shared learning from the research undertaken by Durham University and DCC about the impact of working from home during the covid pandemic lockdowns which is informing the development of the hybrid working plans in Durham and with other REBUS partners
  • visited Malmo with stakeholders to explore their use of district heating to inform and influence the feasibility planning for the Durham City heat network
  • shared learning 

Unlocking renewable heat opportunities

This short film from REBUS partners highlights the impact that the four-year project has had, specifically looking at the proposals around renewable heat sources for County Durham and the potential of mine water heat in particular.

Icon for pdf Video transcript REBUS (PDF, 82.2kb)

Phase 1 - final conference - 10 November 2020

This conference was held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic and had over 100 delegates attending virtually.

We showcased its work on renewable heat and the presentation was led by then Cllr John Clare (our Climate Change Champion).

Each partner organisation focused on a specific element of their work and its impact through the programme. The Energy Renovation Pathway guide that all partners collectively produced was highlighted as a useful tool for organisations to develop their energy efficiency planning for funding opportunities such as the European Green Deal.

Councillor Mark Wilkes

Phase 2 - final meeting - September 2022

Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, Chair of Durham County Council welcomed all of the REBUS partners to Durham City on 6th & 7th September 2022. We were able to showcase a wide variety of the work DCC is undertaking with partners to work towards our Net Zero targets.

Presentations included:

  • Climate County Durham and the Climate Emergency Response Plan 2 - by Cllr Mark Wilkes - Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, and Alan Patrickson - Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, DCC
  • UK and North East Region Energy Policy and Context    - by Karen Oliver-Spry, North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub Manager
  • North East Region Case Studies - geothermal and mine water projects, by Bobo Ng - Energy Accelerator - North East Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Climate and Ecological Emergencies - opportunities for connections and collaborations by Maggie Bosanquet - Low Carbon Team Leader and Stuart Priestly - Principal Ecologist

On the second day we took the delegates to see a variety of the exciting new low carbon projects that have been or are being developed across the County.

  • Woodland Primary School - Air Source Heat Pump, solar and LED lighting retrofit
  • Morrison Busty - low carbon depot retrofit
  • Craghead Housing retrofit - external wall insulation etc
  • Lumley Junior School - integrated solar PV array 

The learning from the programme has been shared through the North East & Yorkshire Net Zero Hub and will influence the local authority decarbonisation programmes into the future.

We would like to thank all the partners and stakeholders who have supported this project over the years.

Lumley Juniors Integrated Solar

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Rebus Logo

In partnership with

  • EU Regional Development Fund
  • Rebus
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Low Carbon Economy Team
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