It is almost a year since Mayor of London, Boris Johnson declared Barking Town Centre a Low Carbon Zone. In the past year the Council has worked tirelessly with the local community to ensure that we realise and exceed our vision for the town centre.
That vision was to ensure that everyone in the zone received comprehensive and worthwhile support; this includes our residents, local businesses, community groups and schools. In addition, our aim is to ensure that we provide the community with support, not only concerned with how we can protect the environment and combat climate change, but also to help target those in need, such as those suffering fuel poverty but also providing training and employment opportunities.
Since January 2010, the Council has been working to provide a package of free support and assistance for local residents. This package included a free home energy assessment which is a walk through assessment of a property conducted by a qualified energy assessor to identify ways to reduce energy use in the home. In addition, the assessor installed a range of energy savings measures including a display energy monitor, stand-by switches, free radiator panels, energy saving LED light bulbs, water efficient shower heads, tap aerators for the kitchen and bathroom and water saving devices to the toilets. The assessor also conducted Income Maximisation checka as well as surveys to refer eligible residents to available energy efficiency grants. Residents were also provided with a free ‘Green Homes Guide’ (add link to pdf doc). The guide assists residents by helping them to think in an alternative, more environmentally friendly way and provides advice for how to incorporate this in the home, garden, shops and whilst travelling.
Three people living in the borough were employed to carry out the home energy assessments and improvements. Chris, Shaun and Andrew, who were actively seeking work, were responsible for visiting residents and delivering these home energy improvements. Over the last year they have received comprehensive training and are now qualified Home Energy Assessors.
Residents were also provided with the opportunity to put what they had learnt from the ‘Green Homes Guide’ into practice, as they were provided with a free ‘Grow Your Own Starter Kit’, which included a home composter, rain water butt and stand, peat-free compost and vegetable seeds. Residents were also entered into a free prize draw for membership to the local car club. The Council were able to deliver this package of measures by working in partnership with a whole host of organisations including Domestic Energy Assessors, DADB (UK), Warm Zone, Wickes Barking and Streetcar. In total, 294 local residents benefited from the package described above.
In partnership with Warm Zone and Aran Services, residents of the Zone are currently being offered the chance to receive free loft and cavity wall insulation. This scheme is targeted at those residents that own or rent their property from a private landlord that live in the zone. To find out more about the scheme please contact: Aran Services Limited on 0800 587 7795 or apply online at the London Warm Zones website.
The Council are also currently in discussions with an energy company to lever in further funding through the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) to provide measures such as boiler replacements and solid wall insulation for residents. More information of this will be provided shortly.
The Council in partnership with the Greater London Authority (through the Targeted Housing Fund) are currently undertaking a major refurbishment of two 17-storey Council blocks in the town centre; this is Colne and Mersea House. The blocks are being refurbished to be 'climate-proof', that is to ensure that they sustain changing climate impacts, such as flooding, overheating and water shortages, but also that the blocks significantly reduce their carbon footprint, through the use of triple glazing, external wall insulation, district heating and smart meters.
Local schools have also benefited from the Barking Low Carbon Zone, including St. Josephs RC Primary School in Barking. The Council recently funded for the school to have a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed to the roof. The panels are utilising energy from the sun and converting this to low carbon and free electricity for the school. A display meter in the schools reception area informs the pupils how much energy the panels are producing and how much carbon emissions have been saved. It is estimated that the panels will save the school in the region of £900 a year in saved energy bills.
Local businesses are also benefiting from the LCZ; the Council in partnership with environmental charity Global Action Plan (GAP) are offering free bespoke auditing and advice for businesses in the Zone. This will help identify and produce an action plan for how energy and other resources can be reduced as well as the associated costs. In addition, the Council is currently working to secure additional funding from the Local Implementation Plan to provide free green travel plans to businesses in the town centre. More information of this and other green transport projects will be provided shortly.
The Council are also keen to set up local environmental community groups. In partnership with GAP the Council conducted an Ecoteam leader training day in October for local residents. The purpose of the training was to provide residents with training on a whole host of environmentally conscious tips, including reducing energy and water use, how people travel and shop as well as growing your own vegetables. Residents were also trained on how to set up a community group and how to pass on this information through a series of structured meetings, with the support of GAP.
In September the Council hosted its annual Big Green Borough Day. The environmental fare was held in the town square and Abbey Green which are in the Zone. The day was used to celebrate and showcase the projects that are available to residents, businesses, schools and organisations of the Low Carbon Zone.
All of this activity has ensured that Barking town centre is on its way to meeting the target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20.12% by 2012.
Watch this space for more information on the Barking Town Centre Low Carbon Zone and how you can get involved.