Our net zero action plan

We are committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our own estate, operations and wholly owned traded services to net zero by 2030.

We are also one of very few local authorities in the country to have achieved the International Standard for Environmental Management (ISO14001) and have held this standard since 2009.

To reach our target we have developed a comprehensive action plan which includes:

  • assess our key decisions and high value contracts to ensure they align with our net zero target
  • invest in renewable energy to generate more zero-carbon electricity and heat energy on our own estate
  • continue to reduce the office space our staff and services occupy, and working with our public sector partners to look at opportunities to share space
  • continue to reduce energy and water use, by improving our buildings with LED lighting, insulation, smart meters and controls
  • make the transition from oil and gas fuelled heating systems to low carbon technologies, such as heat pumps
  • replace all our fleet vehicles with electric vehicles
  • minimise our need to travel for business by investing in digital technologies and flexible working practices
  • plant and establish 1.5 million trees across Kent.

We've all had to adapt the way we live and work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and this has accelerated our net-zero efforts. For example, we've supported our staff to work from home where possible and will continue to do so.

Our encouragement of flexible, remote working has reduced:

  • unnecessary travel to work
  • energy costs in our office
  • our office waste levels.

As we look to the future, we will continue to develop plans for more flexible ways of working.

Action so far

Since 2010 we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 54%. This includes reducing emissions from:

  • highways lighting by 66%
  • buildings we own by 35%
  • fleet fuel by 57%
  • claimed business travel by 32%.
Emission type2010 (tonnes)2020 (tonnes)Difference between 2010 and 2020 (tonnes)
Highways lighting29,92810,287-19,641
Buildings we own19,97912,968-7,011
Fleet fuel3,3961,472-1,924
Business travel4,9072,181-2,726
Total58,21026,908-31,302

Our projects to reduce emissions

Energy efficiency

We have funded 140 energy saving projects to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. Improvements include the installation of LED lighting and motion sensors, draught proofing, heating controls and replacement boilers.

We have converted almost 120,000 streetlights to energy-efficient, light emitting diodes (LEDs). This has reduced our energy consumption by 27,530,405 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and reduced our carbon emissions by 17,744 tonnes. We have also converted the lighting of our signs, bollards and underpasses to LEDs.

Further work is now being carried out to develop large scale energy projects which will significantly reduce our carbon emissions from energy supply. This includes the development of large-scale solar parks which will provide low carbon electricity directly to our estate.

Low carbon heat

We are developing a heat network in Maidstone and have received £2.5 million from the Heat Network Investment Programme to commercialise and construct the network. The network will predominantly use a water source heat pump to provide heat to a number of buildings in Maidstone.

Travel

We already have 36 hybrid vans in our fleet. We are making sure our properties have suitable chargers for staff and the public, as well as continuing to expand the rapid charging network in Kent.

We have commissioned Co-Wheels to provide our staff access to electric hybrid vehicles during the working day, to assist in more sustainable access to meetings and site visits. This allows staff to leave their car at home and travel into the office more actively or sustainably. We also participate in the government approved Cycle to Work Scheme, which helps staff acquire a bike and safety accessories, to encourage and enable staff to cycle to work.

Solar energy

Our first solar panel installation was at Hever Primary School in 2007 and this was followed by 26 more installations over a 3-year period.

Between 2010 and 2019 we installed over 1,000 solar panels on our buildings, including:

  • Invicta House in Maidstone
  • Ashford Highways Depot
  • Cyclopark in Gravesend
  • Simon Langton School for Boys in Canterbury
  • Northfleet School for Girls.

In 2020, we installed an additional 1,300 solar panels on 5 of our buildings, generating the equivalent of 423 kilowatt peak. The buildings were:

  • Worrall House
  • Thanet MASH
  • Swale MASH
  • The Bridge, Dartford
  • The Swattenden Centre.

The solar panels will save 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, equivalent to taking 20 cars off the road, as well as reducing electricity bills.

Our projects have been recognised nationally, in November 2020, Northfleet School for Girls won the Green Leaders Award for the best renewable energy project of the year.

Single use plastics

As part of our efforts to reduce single use plastics in Kent, we're cutting it out in our buildings.

We are taking action to reduce our disposable cup use as far as possible, and we are moving away from bottled water supplies to mains supplies.

Some of our country parks are now using compostable food packaging as an alternative and have a keep-cup scheme to encourage the use of reusable items.

Our facilities management contractors have identified cleaning products where single use plastics are used and have started to transfer to alternative options that are plastic free.

Green guardians

We have a network of staff volunteers, our green guardians, who encourage economic use of office resources and good environmental practice.

Recently our green guardians have been involved with promoting different waste recycling initiatives including writing equipment, coffee pods and milk bottle tops. Some of our green guardians have also upcycled their waste into useful items such as planters and play equipment.

One of the most successful recycling schemes across our sites has been the crisp packet recycling scheme that has raised over £300 for the Kent, Surrey, and Sussex Air Ambulance.