Edinburgh Council to investigate upgrading buildings to tackle climate emergency

Council bosses will investigate upgrading the authority's old buildings to make them more sustainable as part of a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 5:26 pm
Edinburgh City Chambers

The city council has already pledged to make new schools meet Passivhaus standard - the first authority in Scotland to do so. Passivhaus technology uses high levels of insulation and a mechanical heat recovery system to maintain a constant temperature without the need for central heating.

Following calls from Green councillors, officials will investigate how buildings could be retrofitted to Passivhaus or 'gold' sustainability standards and how much it would cost.

The council's head of property and facilities management, Peter Watton, said: "It's more complicated looking at retrofit and looking at things in retrospect because it's a different process and it tends to be very costly and very intrusive.

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"Passivhaus is built on high insulation levels we couldn't achieve on some of the older Victorian buildings - the feasibility study itself would have to identify these issues. There may be other buildings that it is possible to do, but the cost of it is totally prohibitive."

The SNP-Labour administration said current energy consumption levels will be monitored while retrofitting is considered and that a host of different methods will need to be used to become carbon neutral.

Council leader Cllr Adam McVey said: “We’ve set Edinburgh a very ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and it’s vital that as a council we take every action in our power to make our own estate as energy efficient as it can be.

"While we accept this will be a significant challenge we want to ensure we have explored how this can be done. In the meantime, we continue to monitor current energy consumption across our estate so we can look at ways to reduce emissions, change energy sources where possible and offset emissions. There’s no single solution to this, we’ll need to deploy a range of measures to decarbonise our buildings.”

He said: "What I hope is this will work in with all the stuff that's being done on the 2030 target for carbon neutral. We are still to see the data on what's feasible and how we do it.

"When looking at our buildings, when making them all carbon neutral is probably not the target to achieving 2030. Some of it might be offsetting, some of it might be changing the energy source and some of it might be measures that reduce the energy consumption."

The council's policy and sustainability committee agreed for officers to draw up a feasibility study to explore " a deep retrofit o building regulation gold or Passivhaus standard" of at least one council building per year.

Green Cllr Melanie Main said: "I do understand that we need to look at all the options. We have to start looking at these things now and working on them now. it is a climate emergency."