England’s largest National Park has achieved a 25% reduction in its carbon emissions through good carbon management. It is now implementing an innovative system of service-level carbon budgets to ensure continued staff engagement and carbon reduction progress.
The Lake District National Park Authority (NPA) began working with the Carbon Trust in 2007, working with our experts to produce a carbon management plan (CMP) setting out how it would make significant reductions in its carbon emissions. Following the appointment of a dedicated Carbon Reduction Adviser, just five years later it achieved its 2012 target of a 25% reduction in carbon emissions. The Lake District NPA is determined to lead by example and has now widened its scope, setting to further reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2016/17 against a 2011/12 baseline.
“Without sufficient understanding of where your emissions are coming from it is very difficult to manage them and make significant reductions. This is where the Carbon Trust really helped us.” Charlotte Smyrl, Carbon Reduction Adviser for the Lake District NPA.
“The Carbon Trust’s experts helped us identify the areas where key savings could be made and we really benefited from regular progress meetings and the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences through the Carbon Trust’s networks,” says Charlotte Smyrl, Carbon Reduction Adviser for the Lake District NPA. Though the Lake District NPA produces less emissions than many local authorities, it hosts 15.5 million visitors a year and is home to 40,000 residents, so it sees itself as suitably positioned to act as a role model for others to follow.
“As our budgets are fairly limited we wanted to focus primarily on staff-engagement and behaviour change in addition to utilising the most cost-effective technologies,” comments Charlotte. As a result the Lake District NPA has involved staff in the planning of any decisions and has kept staff motivated through regular energy saving competitions. Additionally the Lake District NPA has adopted an invest-to-save approach, which ensures that a certain percentage of the authority’s budget is allocated to investing in projects that will lead to a reduction in emissions.
Though Charlotte is now able to take a part-time role as the main organisational structures are in place at the authority, she feels that a full-time carbon reduction adviser was essential to being able to measure the impact of progress and drive future investments. Another factor of their success has been the establishment of a Carbon Management Board, which consists of key senior staff including the Head of Property and a Director. This has ensured that emissions reduction is embedded into all decisions made by the authority, demonstrated by their use of a sustainable procurement toolkit, which ensures that all activities associated with the authority are assured to be conducted in a sustainable manner.
Without sufficient understanding of where your emissions are coming from it is very difficult to manage them and make significant reductions. This is where the Carbon Trust really helped us.
As a result of their efforts, the Lake District NPA achieved the Carbon Trust Standard in 2010 and 2012, a certification awarded to those organisations displaying best practice and real achievements in measuring, managing and reducing carbon emissions. They were also awarded the North West Climate Leaders Award in 2010 and were shortlisted for national IT team of the year in 2011 for their efforts in sustainability and reducing emissions.
As staff travel contributes a significant percentage of the Lake District NPA’s carbon emissions they have imbedded a travel hierarchy into their business travel plans to make significant reductions. This hierarchy focuses on reducing the need to travel, through tele and videoconferencing; using alternatives to car travel, such as public transport, cycling or walking; encouraging lift sharing and reducing the amount of uncontrolled ‘grey fleet’ travelling on behalf of the authority to ensure that low emission vehicles are prioritised. In line with its emphasis on staff engagement, the Lake District NPA conducted a staff survey and used this to inform travel policy decisions, which has helped to ensure success and reduce ‘grey’ travel miles (those in private vehicles) by 75% and reduce overall mileage by 32%.
Looking forward, the Lake District NPA is keen to utilise effective technologies for when vehicles need to be used and is currently developing its use of vehicle telematics. This automatically calculates the miles travelled, the type of vehicle used and accounts this to each person and the department they work for. “This not only allows effective monitoring of the Authority’s use of vehicles but also helps to increase accountability and reduce wasted miles,” says Charlotte.
When developing plans to significantly reduce transport emissions, the Lake District NPA were keen to ensure that the monitoring that is required did not lead to an increasing administrative burden. To overcome this potential problem, they have set up an electronic expense claim system, opened an account with a train booking system and created a bespoke fleet management database, all simplifying the process of calculating emissions. Their future use of vehicle telematics will help simplify this process further, as the footprint of travel can automatically be calculated by the systems used by each vehicle.
Working with the Carbon Trust, the Lake District NPA were able to identify voltage management at its head office as one of the first measures that would provide substantial reductions in its costs and emissions. As most electrical equipment can operate at voltages lower than the average UK supply, voltage management units can remove the variance in voltage supplies, making equipment more energy efficient. “The Carbon Trust helped us to understand how voltage management works, the benefits it can provide and which providers we could approach to take the work forward,” says Charlotte.
The Lake District NPA has recently built a new low carbon office in the north of the Park. The new office has an Energy Performance Asset Rating of 1, as it very nearly has net zero carbon emissions. The office incorporates a range of energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting and utilises renewable technologies, in the form of solar panels and a biomass boiler. The latter is the second to be installed by the Authority (the first being at its head office)
The boiler will be powered by woodchip harvested from the National Park and, in line with their leadership intentions, the Lake District NPA hope it acts as a demonstration project to promote small-scale, renewable energy projects within Cumbria and the North West. It is also hoped it will safeguard local jobs in the biomass supply chain and stimulate local growth in the sector.
After meeting their initial 25% carbon reduction target, the Lake District NPA are now aiming to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (widening its previous focus on carbon) by 15% by 2016/17.
In order to make progress towards this target the Lake District NPA are looking to introduce service carbon budgets, which it is hoped will empower staff and each service to actively monitor and reduce their own emissions and inspire healthy competition. Service carbon budgets are an innovative mechanism that can help raise awareness of consumption and reduce emissions by setting a restriction on the level of emissions that each service/department within the authority can be responsible for.
“In order to implement this successfully we will need access to accurate and sufficient data, which is why we have invested in smart metering and vehicle telematics,” says Charlotte. Smart meters provide the authority with data on consumption every half hour and vehicle telematics will allow effective monitoring of miles travelled, who is travelling and the type of vehicle used. Looking forward, Charlotte is confident that through a combination of continuing staff engagement, increasing responsibility through effective data management as well as ongoing investments in the most cost-effective technologies, the Lake District NPA will be able to achieve their future target despite increasingly restricted finances.