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Sustainable Council

St Albans City and District Council is committed to undertaking its services and operations in the most environmentally sustainable way. We are making sure we embed the principles and practices of sustainability into all aspects of the Council activities. We aim to demonstrate strong performance in managing our own environmental impacts and leadership in influencing others to do the same.  

Climate Change Emergency Toggle accordion

We have, along with many other councils in the UK, declared that there is a current and future climate emergency that requires urgent planning and action. We have committed to: 

  • Do everything within our power to make the whole of St Albans City and District carbon neutral by 2030
  • Develop an ambitious sustainability strategy for reducing the Council's own emissions, with an objective that the Council becomes carbon neutral by 2030;
  • Call on national government for more powers and resources to make these pledges possible;
  • Work with partners across the District and region to deliver this goal, through all relevant strategies and plans;
  • Establish a politically proportionate working group with coopted (non-voting) members of the public to develop a strategy and detailed action plan
  • Dedicate sufficient staff and budget to achieve these aims, including training all Council staff and Councillors
  • Take account of climate impacts within existing decision-making processes.
  • and, recognising the need for urgent international collaboration to address the present Emergency

Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Toggle accordion

Our Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy sets out our priorities and actions to improve sustainability and reduce our carbon emissions over the next 3 years. More information can be found on our Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy page.

Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Toggle accordion

Rising energy costs have become a major driver for energy efficiency as has the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change. As a property owner and a community leader, St Albans City and District Council has an important role to play in reducing our own energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Every year we analyse the greenhouse gas emissions arising from our buildings, transport and large services. The full analysis can be downloaded below. 

2021 Headlines are: 

  • Our emissions in 2020/21 were 2,679 tonnes. 

  • This is a reduction of 63% since 2008/09 and 40% since 2019/20.

  • Last year we set a target to reduce our emissions by 348 tonnes per year. In 2020/21 we reduced emissions by 1,823 tonnes. This is more than 5 times better than our desired emissions reduction!   

  • These reductions are largely due to the pandemic which led to the closure of buildings and reduced services. We will now need to work hard to maintain these reductions through improved efficiencies. 

  • Purchasing 100% green electricity from Ecotricity has cut our net emissions by 230 tonnes in 2020.


Waste and Recycling Toggle accordion

We provide full recycling facilities for staff at all our offices and buildings and encourage staff to recycle through regular staff campaigns and reminders. We provide recycling facilities for paper, cardboard, plastic cups, plastic food containers, glass bottles and jars, food and drinks cans, food waste, crisp packets (District Offices only), small electrical items, batteries and ink cartridges. We also have bins for unwanted items that are collected by a local charity for sale in their shop. 

We are striving towards being a single-use plastic free Council. We are taking progressive steps to identify where single-use plastics are being used and gradually replace them. Our Single Use Plastics Policy and Action Plan is available to view below. 

Green Travel Toggle accordion

The travel patterns of Council staff will directly impact on congestion and air quality in the district, as well as the Council's own carbon footprint and the well-being of staff.

We have successfully reduced our business mileage by more than 50% since 2008 and we are committed to continuous improvement. A range of benefits and facilities are available for staff including:   

  • Access to an all-electric car club for business travel. 
  • Bicycles (manual and electric) are available for staff to use during working hours for business purposes. 
  • Interest free loans are available to employees to enable them to buy a bicycle. 
  • Interest free loans are available to employees for the purchase of a rail season ticket.
  • Shower and secure bike storage facilities are available for cyclists.
  • Lease cars registered after April 2016 are limited to a maximum emissions rating of 125gm carbon dioxide

Sustainable Procurement Toggle accordion

The Council's Sustainable Procurement Policy sets out our commitments and the principles that Council departments must apply throughout the procurement process. This includes buying goods and services, tendering new contracts, designing new buildings and renovating and maintaining existing buildings. This detailed guide for staff and potential contractors and suppliers, ensures that purchasing decisions consider lifetime costs and benefits of procuring environmentally friendly options.  We encourage and seek suppliers who can provide the most environmentally-friendly option at the most competitive price. 

Supplier Emissions Reporting Toggle accordion

We encourage all contractors working on behalf of the Council, to reduce their environmental impacts wherever possible. As part of our work to monitor and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we ask our largest contractors to submit annual reports to us on their fuel and energy use. These greenhouse gas emissions are then incorporated to our annual greenhouse gas calculations. Full guidance for suppliers on how to complete these submissions, plus the supplier spreadsheet are provided below:

Sustainability Impact Assessment Toggle accordion

All Council projects, new policies and large purchases are required to undertake a Sustainability Impact Assessment. This ensures that the sustainability risks and impacts of Council actions are fully identified, and that mitigating measures are incorporated, before any work takes place. 

Designing Sustainable Buildings Toggle accordion

We strive to build efficient, sustainable and resilient buildings that provide healthy, cost-effective and enjoyable environments for the community in the long-term. Currently all new developments are being designed to include stringent sustainability features such as solar PV panels, heat pumps, electric vehicle charging and even in some instances, a green roof.

In 2012 we opened Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, which achieved the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) rating of 'Very Good'.  Our flagship leisure centre went on to win 'Most Sustainable Construction’ at the Building Futures Awards in November 2013 and the Gold Award in the Community Construction category of the Green Apple Awards 2014. Features of the leisure centre included: 

  • Solar PV panels
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP) providing underfloor heating and electricity
  • Natural ventilation systems which reduce the demand for air conditioning
  • Heat recovery systems in the air handling plant
  • Variable speed drives on fans so that they are only used as needed
  • Use of natural light, movement sensors and energy efficient lighting
  • Pool cover and moving floor, which reduces heat loss from the pool
  • Water from pool sampling is recycled in the toilets, halving water consumption
  • Use of sustainable materials in construction to help minimise the building’s impact on the environment.

We redeveloped Batchwood Sports Centre in 2014. By incorporating many of the same features as we had at Westminster Lodge, we were able to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of 22 (or 'A') - the same as Westminster Lodge. Here we incorporated energy efficient lighting, recycled construction materials, solar PV panels, low-energy lifts and a natural ‘windcatcher’ ventilation system. 

In 2015 we opened the Cotlandswick Sports Centre.  The centre has Solar PV panels and achieves an EPC rating of 30 (or 'B'). This is better than the expected energy performance of new buildings (a benchmark rating of 38).

More recently, our new developments are designed with energy efficiency in mind, often including air source heat pumps, solar PV and EV vehicle charging points. 

We are currently developing a Sustainable Construction Policy which will be posted here when complete.

Education and Awareness Raising for staff and elected members Toggle accordion

New staff and Councillors are provided with a sustainability induction when they join the Council. All staff are expected to complete modules in sustainability (annually) and in Climate Change. Throughout the year we hold regular campaigns to remind staff to recycle, save energy and travel using low carbon methods. These campaigns are supported by the Sustainability Office Champions - a group of Officers who are keen to bring about positive environmental change.

Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership Toggle accordion

We are part of Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership (HCCSP). This partnership of County and Local Authorities aims to link up the organisational and area-level activities taking place across the county. The Partnership aim to lead, enable and inspire, in order to bring about long-term improvements to create a more sustainable Hertfordshire as a whole. A set of action plans have been produced which are available to view at the HCCS website. 

Climate Change Adaptation Toggle accordion

Whilst we do all we can to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2030, we also need to prepare ourselves to make sure we are resilient to future climate changes. The Council's Climate Change Risk Register set out the key risks predicted to affect the area and the mitigation measures we are putting into place now.