Merton Council wins award for environmental best practice

Merton Council was awarded a Green Apple Award for its Invest to Save energy project this week.

Raleigh Addington from the latest Apprentice series presented the Green Apple to David Bell, the council’s energy and sustainability manager in the illustrious surroundings of the House of Commons.

In its award-winning entry, the council outlined its Invest to Save project which includes the creation of a £300,000 investment fund enabling the council to slash CO2 emissions and utility bills by cutting electricity, gas and water consumption in its five main office buildings.

Taking the baseline as 2005/06, when CO2 emissions were at 2,344 tonnes, Merton set its target to reduce emissions from its buildings to 1,700 tonnes by 2011/12. The council was able to demonstrate that it has consistently exceeded its annual CO2 reduction targets with latest results showing a 490 tonne drop from 2,344 tonnes in 2005/06 to 1,854 tonnes in 2009/10.

As well as cutting CO2, the council has saved £184,323 to date by implementing its programme of energy saving measures, with annual financial savings now running at over £90,000 and rising (based on 2010 utility prices).

Invest to Save sets out a variety of actions, including the installation of new auto-dimming, occupancy sensing high efficiency lighting, the removal of stored hot water tanks and the installation of instantaneous gas water heaters, draught proofing hundreds of windows and doors, turning down the thermostat and switching off unused equipment.

The council’s future plans for its civic centre in Morden include the installation of a combined heating cooling and power system, the replacement of the remaining 1,000 light fittings and replacement of over 850 1960s single glazed windows. Merton is also investigating installing a 200KW photovoltaic array on the side of the civic centre to generate electricity from sunlight at the same time as replacing the windows. These projects are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by a further 800 tonnes and save in excess of £150,000 per year.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: “Invest to Save has resulted in both a vital CO2 reduction for Merton as well as substantial cost savings. All the measures we have taken mean that we can now supplement our investment fund with revenue savings achieved through our original investment. This will fund our on-going programme of continued energy reductions which is now set to include more of our buildings, including schools – good for the environment and good for our finances too.”