The Environment and Climate Change Partnership is involved in many projects and initiatives to tackle environmental issues and climate change. Some of these are partnership projects and some are led by individual organisations. You’ll find a selection of these on this page.
Zoe Hull, Head of Operations and Development at Durham Wildlife Trust, has shared the following information about what the Trust is doing to ensure it is the most efficient organisation that it can be.
The commitment to reversing the ecological crisis is clear, and many of the things the Trust does, work towards addressing this. But what about the climate emergency – and whether doing their part to address that will also make them a more efficient organisation that can do more for wildlife?
The climate and ecological emergencies are closely linked, but the solutions can sometimes look very different. Addressing climate change can feel like a huge and daunting job, so Durham Wildlife Trust needed a plan as to how they were going to play their part.
Crunching the numbers
First of all, data is the key. Their initial step was to gather information on where they are now, in order to work out where they could make most improvements. Funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery, via The Wildlife Trusts nationally, enabled the Trust to enlist the services of Genee* to help them with data collection and collation. This data has also contributed to the national Wildlife Trusts' carbon footprinting exercise.
The Trust is also part of the North East Climate Coalition and VONNE Climate Action Alliance, which has been a brilliant support in helping organisations like them to get their houses in order. Through this, they are also able to share their journey with other voluntary and community organisations, and contribute towards a toolkit, and supportive networking sessions.
To get started, the Trust collated all their internal data for staff and volunteer mileage and commutes; numbers of grazing animals; electricity and water use; fuel consumption for trust vehicles and equipment; and consumption of office supplies. This is known as Scope 1 and 2 carbon data. They did this for 2019/20, and are in the process of repeating the exercise for 2020/21. The comparison will be interesting with fewer miles travelled and offices closed due to Covid lockdowns. But this comes with its own challenges too – how do they take account of home working in their carbon calculations?
Easy wins, challenges and next steps
A quick and easy change for the Trust was moving to 100% renewable energy and replacing all bulbs with LEDs. More challenging things are their heating systems in the offices. At both Rainton Meadows (electric storage heaters) and Low Barns (oil fired boiler), the systems are outdated but very expensive to replace, so any investments need to be made carefully to ensure they deliver savings and reduce their carbon footprint.
With the data gathered, the Trust are working alongside the experts at Genee to produce a carbon reduction strategy and action plan to look at practical changes they can make. Some will be straightforward to implement, but others will require real cultural change across the Trust, so will take longer to implement and will probably be harder to measure.
They will also need to consider the carbon impact of our nature reserves. Some may sequester carbon over the long term, but doing major works on them - for instance excavation to create wetland habitats - might have a negative carbon impact in the short term.
But this isn’t a quick-fix project. The Trust are taking their time and doing things properly because they want to make permanent and sustainable change. In order to make their limited funds work for them in the most effective way, it is important to think longer term; for instance, reducing their energy consumption permanently, not simply moving tariff.
The Trust will keep you updated on their plan of action and progress, in the hope that by sharing their experience you can take something from it and make some positive changes too.
*Genee is a not for profit environmental consultancy which was established by the North East England Nature Partnership.
A desire to be greener
The Trustee Board of Framwellgate Moor Youth & Community Association are always striving to reduce the centre’s carbon footprint and improve its green credentials. For trustees, being ‘green’ means reducing the environmental impact that the centre’s energy usage has and also reducing our waste of valuable resources.
There are several aspects of the building’s efficiency that affect our carbon footprint. Heating, lighting, use of water, insulation, automating processes, and taking advantage of sunlight are all part of our thinking towards making the Community Centre greener.
Investigation and prioritisation
In order to establish a plan of action we needed an audit survey of the building – a necessary first step in deciding the direction to take. We needed to know its construction and the type of installed fittings and services so that we could make comparisons when selecting the appropriate improvements. When the survey was complete the next task was to set priorities by seeking to conduct work in the most appropriate order.
A development plan was created and the principle that trustees used was to upgrade unit fittings and equipment in relation to their specific consumption of electrical energy, gas use, and water use. Windows and doors were our highest priority for energy saving (and security). They were selected to be replaced/upgraded first, then ceilings and north-facing walls.
Work included in the development plan included:
- replacement of doors with more energy-efficient versions
- new light fittings with the latest LED technology, area-based lighting controls, and movement sensors
- installation of solar panels which generates the centre approximately £800 per annum through the feed-in tariff
- timing controls for gas usage which are set from a computer-controlled app
- implementing ‘switch off’ notices for users on lighting controls
- change to point of use electric storage water heaters has proved to be more efficient
- training for staff and centre users on energy efficiency
- annually reviewing utility charges
- automatic window ventilation systems increased efficiency and security
- upgrade of both kitchens to lower energy consumption and improve cleanliness
- upgrade of toilets to reduce electricity and water wastage
- planning is in place for when the centre’s main boilers need to be replaced
It’s not only retrofitting that’s important; Utility Monitoring is also vital. We take monthly readings of all electricity, gas, water meters, and solar panels and produce graphs of usage for trustees to identify any areas of concern and help us to maintain our climate action plan.
Help along the way
Durham County Council’s Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) Team was a great help by providing recommendations from a fully-funded energy audit carried out on the building. The report has highlighted what we are doing well and where we need to improve.
Framwellgate Moor Youth & Community Association has always strived to be as energy efficient as possible and continue to build ‘our green credentials’.