Retrofit of buildings helps keep Dorset Council on track to become carbon neutral

Dorset Council’s efforts to fit energy saving measures in its buildings, including County Hall in Dorchester, are helping keep it on track to become a carbon neutral council by 2040, says new report.

According to a council report published this week, carbon emissions from council owned buildings have reduced by over 20 per cent in just one year thanks to a major retrofit programme.

solar panels on roof of waste depot with waste lorries parked in front

The programme, which was funded by the government, saw measures like heat pumps, solar panels and low-energy lighting installed in over 200 council owned buildings, including schools, libraries and leisure centres.   Combined, this work has drastically cut energy use and costs for the council and its partners, with an estimated saving of over £1million a year.

The report, which monitors the progress Dorset Council is making towards its climate goals, shows that emissions from other areas of the council have also reduced since monitoring began, and it is making good overall progress towards its 2040 target.

Overall, the council has reduced its carbon footprint by 27% since it declared a climate and ecological emergency in 2019. In the past year progress has been slower than previous years, but according to the report this was to be expected and reflects the significant drop in carbon emissions recorded globally during the pandemic.

However, the report does highlight that the council’s efforts will need to be strengthened in areas like travel and post pandemic behaviours will need to be locked-in if it is to remain on track to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“It is really encouraging to see that the council has continued to reduce carbon emissions and avoided a bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

“But if we are to remain on track, it is critical that we maintain and strengthen efforts to drive down emissions both within the council and across the wider county.

“This recent report clearly shows that taking steps now to cut emissions is not only the right thing to do for our planet, but also makes good financial sense.

“I strongly urge residents who haven’t already done so to contact our Healthy Homes Dorset programme to see what support is available to help them take similar steps in their homes.”

National data shows that emissions across the wider Dorset Council area have reduced overall since 2019, but the last reporting year saw them begin to rise again.  Similar rises have been seen across the country, as patterns of travel and economic activity return to normal post pandemic.

The report highlights the significant challenge that lies ahead for Dorset in becoming a carbon neutral county by 2050 and the critical role the council will play in helping residents, communities and organisations transition to a net zero future.

The council’s Natural Environment, Climate and Ecology Progress Report can be read in full here.  More information on what the council is doing to tackle climate change and improve nature and the steps residents can take can be found on the Dorset Council website.

With around 100 members any business in Dorset with less than 30 employees can join Dorchester Chamber for business for £60p/a (no VAT).