By Local Democracy Reporter Julia Gregory
Gas boilers are being replaced at council owned offices and other civic buildings in a bid to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint. The move is one of the steps Islington Council is taking to become greener. It comes as the latest data reveals that carbon dioxide emissions from gas from businesses in Islington have gone up by four per cent since 2005, despite growing environmental awareness.
Last month, the borough hosted an environment festival where entrepreneurs and residents can pick up green tips. Businesses in Islington produce 33% of the borough’s carbon emissions, according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy data.
A further seven per cent comes from public sector buildings like the Town Hall and court rooms, while industrial buildings produce just 6%. Like many other councils across the UK, Islington declared a climate emergency in 2019 and set a target to become a net-zero borough by 2030.
Burning fossil fuels increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, leading to increased temperatures globally and more extreme weather. Islington’s carbon emissions dropped by 45 per cent by 2019 – with a 58% reduction in emissions per person – but the council says there is still a long way to go.
It set out its Vision 2030 strategy last year, and is now planning to start a business audit scheme for small businesses who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Among the help on offer are grants from the Energising Small Business Fund, for energy efficiency improvements, and from the Islington Community Energy Fund, for innovative energy projects, which include energy efficiency measures for buildings.
Discussing the challenges facing businesses and industrial premises, Matt West, who is looking at decarbonising buildings in Islington, told the environment scrutiny committee the council is working to slash carbon emissions from its own buildings. This includes replacing gas boilers at the council’s 57 corporate buildings with greener options, improving energy efficiency with insulation, glazing, heating controls, lighting upgrades, passive cooling measures, and by using renewable products.
He said listed buildings like the Town Hall on Upper Street pose particular challenges. The council is also buying electricity from renewable sources and looking at putting solar panels on suitable buildings. It is also looking at ways to make the 39 council schools greener and is doing feasibility studies at Beacon High, Drayton Park Primary, New River College using grants from the government’s low carbon skills fund.