London; tomorrow’s energy efficient capital? Content Coms asks the question


Recent Conservative moves have trampled subsidies for low carbon and energy efficiency. But, in London, Boris Johnson seems keen to build a greener city

Since David Cameron came to power, few positives for environmentalists have come to light. Rather, Amber Rudd has unleashed a comprehensive range of cuts to green subsidies.

Among the losers was the Green Deal, the UK’s flagship home energy efficiency scheme. It got the axe towards the end of July.

But against this backdrop, London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative himself, launched an energy efficiency retrofitting programme for homes on August 4, 2015.

The Mayor’s stance seems set squarely against Party policy. It is part of his target to cut carbon emissions in the capital by 60 per cent by 2025.

The pot available

The Mayor claims his programme has the capacity to deliver £1.6 billion of home energy upgrades and improvements. It sets up a framework of 11 specialist suppliers. They include Ecologic Energy, Kier Group and Willmott Dixon.

These will provide retrofit solutions to public sector landlords such as London boroughs, housing associations, and universities. Low carbon technologies such as LED lighting, new and upgraded boilers, insulation, solar panels, and double glazing all fall within the scheme’s scope.

Lightening London’s load

The plans run for the next four years. They seek to help public sector organisations save time and money, limiting lengthy procurement processes.

Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, central Government, at Capita’s property and infrastructure business, said: “RE:NEW is the largest and most ambitious programme to enable retrofitting in the UK.

“To support its goal of making London a cleaner and more efficient city the RE:NEW programme has designed a highly flexible framework that simplifies and streamlines procurement.”

2015 Business Energy Challenge

Turning his efficiency gaze on business, the Mayor recently launched the 2015 Business Energy Challenge on August 7, 2015. It offers awards and prestige to energy saving firms.

Last year’s 27 award winners achieved an 18 per cent reduction in carbon emissions, using 181,892 megawatt hours less energy. The energy saved could power 10,700 UK households for a year, some £12.5 million in energy bills avoided.

Boots, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Marks and Spencer all took part in 2014’s challenge. This year, a new micro category also enables SMEs to get involved.

Some 75 per cent of London’s carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings; 43 per cent come from workplaces. Businesses entering the awards submit energy usage data; they are assessed on the carbon intensity per square metre of their properties.

According to reports, London already ranks in the world’s top ten energy efficient cities, behind Rekjavik, Portland and Vancouver.

Policy disconnect?

If Johnson’s plans can secure the promised £1.6 billion of low carbon capacity building for London, the money would represent some 20% of the entire Levy Control Framework (LCF) budget his colleague Amber Rudd is presently dismantling.

The exact source of Johnson’s £1.6 billion, or the validity of his estimates is unclear. Some money may come from Europe; supplied by the European Investment Bank ELENA programme.

Either way, the moves represent a juxtaposition in Tory policy. Taking from growing UK green business with one hand, while granting EU subsidy cash to home efficiency measures does not hint at cohesive long term strategy.

Indeed, launching award ceremonies for energy efficiency, in the midst of the biggest green cuts for years, smacks too of highly disorganised Government.