Report: Public building carbon emissions have increased in a third of local authorities
New analysis highlights the scale of the challenge in driving down emissions across public sector buildings.
The report, conducted by dedicated network access providers Neos Networks, analysed the display energy certificates (DECs) and ‘operational ratings’ (annual CO2 emission kg per m2) of over 450,000 public buildings in England and Wales.
It found that while 68% of local authorities have improved the energy efficiency of their public building stock, CO2 emissions from public buildings have increased in almost a third (32%) of local authorities. Over half of buildings (58%) are rated C or D, and just 0.01% scored the highest DEC rating of A+ in the UK.
Pace of progress is slow
While the findings reveal some positive progress, they suggest that the pace of decarbonisation is insufficient to meet government targets.
On average, public building CO2 emissions per m2 have fallen by 0.62% annually over the last 15 years. An annual reduction of 3.75% is needed to achieve the government’s goal of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2037.
Key findings by building type
The report finding split buildings according to four types: schools, NHS buildings, general offices, and leisure facilities.
It found that leisure facilities are the highest operational rating CO2 emitters of all public buildings – even though their operational rating has dropped by 10% over the last 15 years.
One in seven NHS buildings is operating at ‘G’, the lowest DEC rating, more than any other public sector category in the dataset, and 80% are rated D or below. However, operational ratings for NHS buildings have dropped by 16% in the last 15 years, with much of the reduction due to using renewable energy. This highlights NHS facilities’ potential for improvement when money is invested wisely.
More than any other category of public building, general office spaces have the highest proportion of buildings rated B or above – nearly double the rate of schools or NHS buildings.
Targeted investment needed
There is a mixed picture of performance across the local authorities.
London authorities ranked, on average, among the worst performing for operational rating CO2 emissions. But more than two-thirds (68%) of local authorities across England and Wales brought emissions down. Merthyr Tydfil (-68.20%), East Hertfordshire (-54.23%) and Portsmouth (-54.35%) were the best performers, highlighting what’s possible with targeted investment.
Sefton local authority is leading the way in England and Wales for using renewable energy to cut emissions from public buildings. Through renewable energy, the council in Sefton has actively reduced CO2 output per square metre by almost a quarter (23%).
At Concept, we are working with local authorities to identify cost-effective carbon reduction opportunities and set long-term decarbonisation plans. If you would like advice on a particular challenge, get in touch.