What makes a sustainability leader? Meet green recovery champions Nottingham City Council

With edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards ceremony on the horizon, this series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Winner of our Green Recovery Initiative of the Year, Nottingham City Council.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet green recovery champions Nottingham City Council

Ready to follow in NCC's footsteps? The Award ceremony will take place on 30 March

Nottingham City Council’s (NCC) energy services division implemented a suite of measures to support its most vulnerable citizens through the Covid-19 pandemic. They include a customer services function that has ensured the safety and security of the Council’s customers, and range of projects which tackle fuel poverty across the city and facilitate a green recovery as the City works to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028.

NCC’s Energy Services are leading the response to reduce fuel poverty in Nottingham, with a reduction in rates from 18.4% in 2012 to 13.9% in 2018. However, as of late 2020, there were still 18,666 households in fuel poverty. As citizens are spending more time at home adhering to Covid-19 guidance, energy consumption is inevitably rising and putting more people at risk of financial difficulties and health concerns associated with inadequately heated homes.

NCC recognised that action was required to support citizens when the first lockdown was announced in March 2020. The Council’s customer services function implemented new business continuity practices to ensure that a high level of customer services could be maintained. For example, where heat network customers were identified as self-isolating, a card with pre-loaded credit was sent to them to ensure they did not get cut off, priority service customers received periodic welfare calls, and any customers facing financial hardship were provided with credit to last them for two months.

Additionally, the Warm Homes Hub was launched, bringing £1m of support to the city, delivered alongside Age UK, Nottingham Energy Partnership and E.On. This worked alongside NCC’s leading innovation programme which delivers deep retrofit to net-zero carbon standards through low-carbon technology and advanced off-site manufacture, which is being rolled out to 335 homes and continues with the implementation of a range of Covid-safe measures.

NCC is working to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral city and has prioritised actions from the plan which support a green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The Warm Homes Hub will install first-time central heating systems to 100 properties, moving away from the dirtiest forms of fossil fuel heating, and will provide a package of support, including energy-saving advice, benefit checks, tariff switching and an emergency fund for those who lack adequate heating, to 1,000 vulnerable households. This will help address the three strands outlined in NCC’s 2018 fuel poverty strategy: reducing energy bills, improving energy efficiency, and maximising household income.

At the time of this Award being given (February 2021), the project had saved an average of £1,176 per household. As part of the Council’s domestic retrofit programme, it had installed 40,000 energy efficiency measures to homes in the city, including insulation, new windows and doors. Its deep retrofit innovation projects trial the Energiesprong model as a way to reach net-zero carbon standards. Importantly, tenants benefit from reduced and fixed energy bills, as well as a guaranteed comfort standard, which provides a minimum temperature, volume of hot water and electrical appliance load. It was calculated that the homes should have been paying £1,800 a year for their energy usage, but it was found that only £600 was paid on average, resulting in under-heated, cold and draughty homes which put vulnerable tenants at risk of poor health.

Now that the pilot is complete, the tenants pay £500 a year for all their energy needs. As a result of these interventions, Nottingham’s most vulnerable citizens are being protected from the impacts of Covid-19 and further hardship that they may have suffered. It was the Council’s hope that no resident would have to face the choice between food and an adequately heated home in the winter, and it will continue to work with its partners to tackle fuel poverty in the city through its support schemes and physical works.

NCC expects its green recovery projects to continue to support its objectives of tackling fuel poverty and achieving a carbon-neutral city by 2028, and has accelerated its efforts to achieve these goals. These objectives are measured and monitored through NCC’s fuel poverty action plan and carbon-neutral action plan, which will ensure that work continues post-Covid-19. As a result of the successful implementation of its green recovery projects, Nottingham is preparing a next phase of interventions, including extending its Warm Homes Hub first time central heating system workstream which is overprescribed, and bidding for central government funding to extend its domestic deep retrofit projects to more homes and different housing archetypes, as well as making an offering to privately owned properties.

What edie’s judges said: “NCC has taken a genuinely different approach that gets to the nub of a systemic issue. Poor and otherwise vulnerable residents are disproportionately impacted by both Covid-19 and fuel poverty. NCC has targeted these critically important issues with a suite of innovative measures with social and decarbonisation benefits.”

Join the celebrations at edie’s 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards ceremony!

Now in its 15th year, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme champions bold and brilliant climate leadership. From the best net-zero carbon programmes through to cutting-edge product innovations – winning an edie Sustainability Leaders Award empowers teams, inspires stakeholders and accelerates sustainable business growth.

edie will be announcing the winners of the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards at a live ceremony on the evening of 30 March at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. It is highly recommended that you book your place at the Awards as soon as you are able to (premium tables are limited).

Click here to view a full list of the shortlisted entries for this year’s Awards. 

edie Staff 

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