London's Public Buildings to Get Energy Efficiency Make-Over

HUNDREDS of jobs are set be created and millions of pounds saved for the taxpayer thanks to the Mayor's programme to make public bulidings more energy efficient.

Schools, libraries, town halls and hospitals are among nearly 400 public buildings set to get an energy efficiency makeover through London Mayor Boris Johnson's RE:FIT scheme. This represents more than £50 million of investment into the buildings. Based on previous international studies, it is estimated that energy efficiency activity at this scale could represent the creation of up to 700 jobs. At a time when organisations are facing squeezed budgets, RE:FIT is set to see 100 buildings completed or signed up with finance in place by May this year.

This is all part of the Mayor’s plan to retrofit London’s buildings - responsible for 80 per cent of the capital's carbon emissions - with measures such as photovoltaic solar panels, low energy lighting systems and new efficient boilers on an unprecedented scale, whilst also boosting the economy and creating new jobs. The Mayor's target for 100 public sector buildings to use RE:FIT is expected to be met by May 2012 with hundreds more to follow. Work is already finished or very near completion on 86 buildings which is estimated will save £1.3m of taxpayers' cash through reduced energy bills each year. Detailed preparation is underway to sign up a further 297 buildings in the next 12 months. These include schools, town halls, libraries and museums, leading to estimated savings of up to £6m on energy bills each year and 36,000 tonnes of carbon each year - the equivalent of taking around 60,000 vehicles off London's roads.

Organisations using the award-winning RE:FIT programme can cut out the red tape and associated costs that would normally have to be undertaken before any major building works in the public sector. They can choose a contractor from a pre-vetted list that will offer a guaranteed energy saving upfront and pay back costs using the predicted fuel bill savings - making the overall project cost neutral.

Boris Johnson, said: ‘Retrofitting London is a win-win, not only does it make perfect economic and common sense by cutting energy costs but it also reduces carbon emissions and stimulates the capital’s burgeoning low carbon economy, creating jobs and boosting skills. The ranks of public organisations opting to use RE:FIT is growing by the day and I urge others to also sign up and reap the financial rewards it delivers.’

The Mayor’s Environment Director, Kulveer Ranger spoke about the innovative RE:FIT programme at the ESCO Europe 2012 Conference in London today, where delegates from around the world had come to hear about the scheme. RE:FIT is the only programme of its kind in Europe and now a number of EU countries have expressed interest in replicating it, including Belgium and Spain.

RE:FIT was trialled on 42 buildings in the Greater London Authority group, including fire stations, police stations and Transport for London offices that have received the overhaul. This has saved one million pounds off fuel bills collectively with some buildings seeing their energy efficiency improve by as much as 40 per cent. In January 2010 the RE:FIT framework was made available by the Mayor to all public sector organisations in the UK to use.

The Mayor has leveraged over £100million of public and private sector money to support the delivery of RE:FIT and building energy efficiency in London, including via low cost, flexible loans for buildings works and through the creation of a team of experts who are providing organisations with advice and support.

Innovative measures to cut carbon at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust through the RE:FIT project included the installation of a quieter and more efficient ventilation system using heat recovery and free cooling, which will enable the hospital to save £50,000 a year on its energy bills.

Kai Kin Lee, Capital Design Project Manager at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust, said: 'The key benefit of the project, for us, was that we only paid once we’d seen returns. The project exceeded the investment requirements set out in the RE:FIT scheme, and delivered additional operational benefits over and above energy and carbon reductions.'

Kulveer Ranger, said: 'RE:FIT is successful because it cuts out duplication and red tape to help public buildings become less energy wasteful. This is helping public buildings at the heart of our communities, save money on running costs and play a part in the Mayor's aim to use retrofitting to create new enterprises and jobs in London's low carbon economy.'

The estimated economic value for London by 2025 coming from low carbon goods and services equates to £40 billion of investment into the capital, which could create 200,000 jobs. As London’s buildings account for nearly 80 per cent of carbon emissions, the biggest low carbon economic opportunity for businesses stems from activity to make them energy efficient.

Building retrofitting accounts for 41 per cent of the overall investment the city requires to achieve the Mayor’s 60 per cent carbon cut by 2025. Investment in retrofitting could deliver up to 80 per cent of the 14,000 low carbon jobs that could be created per year and two thirds of the £721 million of low carbon economic activity per year up until 2025.

London's public buildings are responsible for 10 per cent of the capital's carbon emissions. Retrofitting these buildings with energy reduction measures will not only cut fuel bills and emissions, it is also a valuable investment opportunity estimated to be worth billions to the London economy, which will create jobs and help develop skills. It is estimated that by 2050, 80 per cent of the buildings standing today will still be in use, making it important that we retrofit our current building stock to make them more energy efficient.

Picture of Newham University Hospital   © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Monday 30th January 2012

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