After Leicester secured a £25m investment for a carbon reduction programme, Quadrant Smart sits down with Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor in Leicester, to discuss why it is essential cities like Leicester are trailblazers for net-zero projects.
Funded through the Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, Leicester City Council will pay for an ambitious programme that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of 92 council-owned buildings across the city.
The improvement programme means the city can focus on tackling different sectors at the same time, to achieve net-zero in the most efficient way possible.
Cllr Clarke explained to Quadrant Smart: “It is massively important [to tackle multiple sectors]. A quarter of our emissions come from transport and that is massive. We need to tackle that head-on. So, we really have to drive change across the board and to make visible changes, which encourages others to make changes as well.”
Saving money and the planet is a real win-win situation
It is estimated that the energy efficiency improvements will result in overall carbon savings of around 3000tCO2e per year – equivalent to average annual emissions produced by over 900 homes or 1,600 cars.
Deputy City Mayor Adam explained how this is a win-win for the city in the sense that there will be a reduction in its carbon footprint but also save the council over £600,000 a year in reduced bills.
He told Quadrant Smart: “I think that is what brings the benefits to reality as well because once you start talking about financial savings people listen up. If you talk about an amount of carbon saved it is difficult to visualise but if you can convert it to financial benefits as well, it helps people to understand the value quite literally. That double-edged sword is very important.”
Impressively, the overall programme could see over 2,800 new solar PV panels installed in total, enough to cover over 4,600sqm or all 18 championship courts at Wimbledon.
This is us putting our best foot forwards so that we can deliver a net-zero city in the fastest time possible
Adam added, “Obviously, the work the panels are doing in decarbonising our building s and saving revenue but there is also a physical manifestation there that we can see, that this is important, this is us putting our best foot forwards so that we can deliver a net-zero city in the fastest time possible.”
Time to push for cross-sector developments
The whole package and collateral benefits help to make a compelling case for the radical changes that are needed for the climate emergency.
“There will be hooks into this that will attract people in different ways and I think it is important that the hooks are communicated very clearly so that people understand the rationale for why we are doing this and in transport as well as in buildings” added, Cllr Clarke.
A large emphasis was placed on the importance of councils taking the lead with net-zero programmes and as a flagship for other people and local businesses to see what they can do.
The interview rounded up with Cllr Clarke explaining: “It is critical that we are seen to be out there so we can generate that wider interest. We need to be influencers in this field as well as directly delivering.”