‘Energy Efficiency: How to enhance local authority strategies’ was the topic for the Guardian Public Leaders Network seminar, held Thursday 12 February 2015, which sought to explore best practice and barriers for councils trying to reduce energy bills across the board. In conjunction with Knauf Insulation, the seminar also considered the findings from the Local Authority Energy Index, which measures the local energy and energy efficiency agendas of councils in England.
John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications & Interim CEO at UKGBC, set out the direction of the event with an address that recognised those local authorities that were leading in the area of energy efficiency and how they can play a key role in this within government. However, John warned that the challenge for the next elected party would be the consistency and longevity of policy approach: “Energy efficiency must be viewed as a national infrastructure priority.”
The esteemed panel consisted of Malcolm Ball, Director Energy Efficiency at UK Green Investment Bank; which has funding available that local authorities can access, Ian Hutchcroft Head of Local Delivery, Energy Saving Trust, Tim Pryce Head of Public Sector, The Carbon Trust, Sarah Sims Program Manager – Housing at Bristol City Council and Steven Heath, Director of Public Affairs and Strategy (Northern Europe) at Knauf Insulation.
A key part of the seminar was the work around the Local Authority Energy Index, initially designed as a pilot tool to analyse the state of play in local authority energy efficiency and to assist those that want to improve their performance in this vital area.
The need for benchmarking across councils, the sharing of best practice and having robust measurement in place to build an effective business case - and therefore safeguarding support from the top levels in councils, were conclusive themes realised from the discussions in terms of tackling energy efficiency in local areas.
Dr Steven Fawkes, Founder and Principal at EnergyPro and co-author of the Local Authority Energy Index comments: “The seminar was a good first opportunity to obtain some real feedback on the Energy Index and what would be useful for local authorities in future as we take the Index forward.”
During the seminar, discussion groups debated the latest policy developments, how to maximise the benefits of energy efficiency measures and the need for government – and in particular cross-party support and commitment to realistic, long term plans for energy efficient homes. Only then will real changes come for the millions of people struggling with unaffordable energy bills.
Steven Heath, said: “It was great to engage with so many people across such a wide spectrum of issues. They were all passionate about confronting the challenges that exist for councils trying to reduce energy bills for residents, businesses and their own estates. It was also extremely beneficial to gather so much feedback on where the Local Authority Energy Index might go from here.”
John Sinfield, Managing Director at Knauf Insulation concluded: “This has been a fascinating debate that has really shown that between local authorities and industry we can solve the problems of energy efficiency, but we need a government to provide the right framework to follow through.”
The full seminar round up will be featured in the Guardian newspaper and live on the Guardian Public Leaders Network on 26 February 2015. For more information on the Local Authority Energy Index please visit www.laenergyindex.co.uk.