Climate action: energy, planning and housing

How can we act on the need to adapt existing properties to address the impacts of climate change – and plan for new stock resilient to these impacts? Are we integrating sustainability and resilience into our energy plans?

Climate change hub

LGA resources 

Re:fit programme

Re:fit programme, run by Local Partnerships and funded through the LGA's Sector Led Improvement grant, helps councils implement energy efficiency and local energy generation measures to their buildings or their estate.

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy

Councils have long been at the forefront of the move to a low carbon economy by adopting energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This has already led to impressive cost savings and a wide range of additional benefits. As local government continues to suffer cuts to its budgets there is an even stronger incentive for councils to maximise the potential for energy-related income and savings. The following report sets out the scale of the financial opportunities available to councils from energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

The potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy

Renewable energy good practice guidance

A significant increase in renewable energy provision in the UK will be required if legally binding targets to be carbon neutral by 2050 are to be met. This increase provides opportunities for more councils to own renewable energy generating assets, either for an income stream, or to offset their own carbon emissions. The following guide aims to help both members and officers of councils who are considering asset ownership to understand the potential risks and benefits and how these can be managed.

Renewable energy good practice guidance

Planning for climate change

We have a range of support to help councils plan for climate change, for councillors, leaders and planners, which you can find via the link below.

Planning for climate change

Case studies and notable practice 

LB Waltham Forest Council: Retrofitting Sheltered Housing Schemes

Waltham Forest Council retrofitted sheltered housing schemes by developing a solar-powered system that could generate and store enough electricity to power the lifts and LED lighting in communal areas, both day and night. Importantly, the installation was to have minimal impact on residents, while providing continuous flow of power to communal areas and deliver financial and CO2 savings.

Read the full case study

Energy project in Rother District Council

The full case study is available to read on the energy project in Rother District Council

Portsmouth City Council's savings on energy bills

The full case study is available to read on Portsmouth City Council's savings on energy bills

Bristol City Council's wind turbines

Bristol City Council is the first authority in the UK to develop and own wind turbines. The two turbines are predicted to generate 14.4 gigawatts annually.

Read the full case study

Sheffield City Council: free insulation scheme

Sheffield City Council set up a free area-based insulation scheme that aimed to insulate all private sector homes by 2015 (council-owned houses are already insulated). They then launched a new ECO scheme.

Read the full case study

Cornwall goes retro with heat pumps

In 2006 Carrick Housing began an ongoing programme to install ground source heating in rural properties that cannot get gas heating.

Read the full case study

Resources from elsewhere

Energy Systems Catapult - Local Area Energy Planning (2018)

Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) have created a guide for energy planning in local areas as a way of mitigating and adapting to climate change. They cover the importance of energy planning and provide a seven-step process to create successful energy plans in the local area. This would help focus resources on ensuring that each local area in the UK is on track to meet their decarbonisation targets.

Cornwall Council and Citizen's Advice - Local Authority Toolkit: Supporting Fuel Poor and Vulnerable Households (2018)

Cornwall Council and Citizen’s Advice have collaborated to create a toolkit for local authorities and third sector partners to work together to reduce fuel poverty. This toolkit provides local authorities advice on how they can use energy efficiency to support vulnerable households. The guidance suggests how local authorities can use the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to declare certain households’ requirement to meet the eligibility criteria for affordable warmth. 

Centre for Sustainable Energy - Local Sustainability Energy Assessment Matrix (2017)

The CSE have designed this assessment matrix to help local authorities and other local energy actors to assess their area’s current performance and identify opportunities for improvement. The assessment matrix has five dimensions of action: domestic sector energy, commercial sector energy, fuel poverty, low carbon energy infrastructure and institutional ecosystem.

Good Homes Alliance - Overheating in New Homes (2019)

The Good Homes Alliance have created a toolkit on identifying indicators for overheating in homes, considering that overheating is set to increase with climate change. This toolkit provides 14 key questions that are key factors to tackling overheating and notably mention that providing cooling is not the solution. The toolkit also provides potential next steps, based on the level of risk estimated, as well as a detailed design guidance and risk assessment. 

Local Partnerships: Street Lighting Toolkit 

Given the significant cost and energy savings achieved from energy efficient lighting at a local level, Local Partnerships has developed a Street Lighting Toolkit (PDF), working closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Transport and other stakeholders. This will provide guidelines and a structured approach and process to support councils with energy efficient street lighting projects.

Local Partnerships and Cornwall Energy: Guidance for Local Government

Across Britain, councils are taking action to boost renewable generation, improve energy security, lower energy bills and support community economies by seizing opportunities to get involved with energy supply. By doing so, they provide customers with an alternative to the big utility companies and are capitalising on emerging trends in energy production and transportation. These place locally-focused energy ventures centre stage. 

Simply, we hope that this guidance (PDF) will:

  • broaden comprehension within local government of the options available to them in developing a long term energy strategy for their organisation.

In doing so:

  • understanding the commercial opportunity available through becoming a local energy supplier
  • increase indirectly the investment in low carbon technologies through more lucrative commercial options
  • awareness of what time and resources are necessary to do this

By developing a fully-rounded appreciation of the various options available to it, local government can make appropriate and informed choices as to what the right energy strategy is for them, consistent with the values, policies and strategies of their council.

TCPA and RTPI - Rising to the Climate Crisis (2018)

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and RTPI have prepared a guide to help planners and politicians tackle issues around climate change and improve the preparation of development plans for local authorities. Within this report, there are local planning approaches that cover setting objectives, gathering evidence for planning and local planning approaches for adaptation and mitigation.

RTPI - Smart Energy (2019)

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have carried out research on planning’s potential to support the delivery of smart, clean energy and produced a report mainly for policy makers, decision makers and practitioners in planning as well as others working in built environment. The report provides the findings and its impact on planners, central government and local planning authorities. 

Woodland Trust

 - A report on the importance of including trees as part of housing development

- This planners' manual gives local authority planners all the information they need on the importance of ancient woodland and ancient/veteran trees.