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 Net Zero action plan (PDF, 127.2 KB).

We will monitor our progress towards the net-zero target every 3 months, with the first data available for April to June 2021 in the autumn, published within the Council’s quarterly performance report.

Action so far

Since 2010 we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 57%. This includes reducing emissions from:

  • highways lighting by 66%
  • buildings we own by 39%
  • fleet fuel by 60%
  • claimed business travel by 66%.

This latest set of data to December 2020, reflects the changes to the way we have been working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with significantly less business travel and a reduction in the use of our buildings.

As we look to the future, we will continue to develop our plans for more flexible ways of working that continue to reduce our impact on the environment.

Emission type2010 (tonnes)2020 (tonnes)Difference between 2010 and 2020 (tonnes)
Highways lighting29,92810,007-19,921
Buildings we own19,97912,131-7,848
Fleet fuel3,3961,366-2,030
Business travel4,9071,683-3,224
Total58,21025,187-33,023

We have an ambitious programme to reach our net-zero target by 2030 and have been awarded over £20 million to deliver energy decarbonisation projects during 2021-22. This includes solar parks, solar on our buildings, replacing oil and gas boilers with heat pumps, LED lighting and other energy efficiency measures. We expect to reduce our emissions by a further 40% by completing these projects.

Our projects to reduce emissions

Energy efficiency

Project successes include:

  • 140 energy saving projects to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings, such as LED lighting and motion sensors, draught proofing, heating controls and replacement boilers.
  • converting almost 120,000 streetlights and the lighting of our signs, bollards and underpasses to energy-efficient, light emitting diodes (LEDs).

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 five of our buildings, generating the equivalent of 423 kilowatt peak and saving 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, equivalent to taking 20 cars off the road.

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.

The project installed 681 solar panels, one of the largest school solar installations in the country and will save £16,000 and reduce its carbon footprint: They’ll also save £4,000 per year by upgrading their light bulbs to energy efficient LEDs.

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 and several of our offices have electric vehicle charging points for use by staff and visitors. We are planning to expand these facilities, alongside our plans to continue to expand the rapid charging network in Kent working with our District and Borough Council partners.

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.

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.

Our facilities management contractors have identified soluble tablet cleaning products and are replacing products supplied in plastic bottles with these plastic-free alternatives.

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.