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August 2023

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Published on 31 August 2023

Significant step taken to meet climate emergency declaration

Forde House
Forde House

A major, complex refurbishment and decarbonisation project has been successfully completed at Teignbridge’s Forde House council headquarters, reducing carbon emissions annually by the equivalent of some 50 gas-heated homes.

Since declaring a climate change emergency in April 2019, Teignbridge has strived to set an example by reducing its own carbon footprint, phasing out the use of fossil fuels and encouraging others to do likewise. Last year it published the first part of its carbon action plan designed to secure the council’s goal of working towards becoming a net zero authority.

Forde House was one of the council’s most carbon emitting buildings so the council seized the chance for financial support when the opportunity arose to bid for £672,000 of national grant funding.

Air source heat pumps, solar panels, LED lighting, building fabric upgrades, a new state of the art energy management system and a clean air ventilation system have been installed, creating a greener and more temperate working environment.

The decarbonisation, structural and refurbishment changes allied with staff hybrid working has freed up most of the ground floor of the building which is now available for lease and will generate income to help fund council services. Running costs of Forde House have also been significantly reduced, with the council now benefiting from cheaper energy bills as a result of the investment.

The project was a monumental task due to the scale and complexity of the changes required as well as investment in digital systems to enable staff to move out of the building and work more flexibly, splitting time between working in a hot desk office arrangement and from home.  

Services have been maintained and the £4.8 million project has been completed despite problems caused by Covid, the collapse of the original contractor Midas and key personnel changes throughout the process.

Executive Member for Climate Change, Cllr Jackie Hook, thanked contractors Kier, who took over the contract from Midas and very quickly got the project back on track; and consultants Aecom for the expertise they had brought to the complex project and for the positive way they had worked with council staff to deliver it.

“Removing outdated heating and ventilation systems as well as transforming the structure and fabric of the building has enabled us to take a major step forward in reducing carbon emissions,” said Cllr Hook.

“I would encourage other local organisations and businesses to take similar steps to help tackle the climate emergency and reap the benefits of reduced energy costs.”

Project director at AECOM Ltd, Warren Thorne, said: In response to the climate change emergency declared by Teignbridge District Council in April 2019 this project demonstrates the commitment made by the Council to become carbon neutral.

“We are extremely proud to be assisting Teignbridge District Council as they lead by example in tackling climate change. AECOM holds the same beliefs and aspirations to strive for more sustainable outcomes which directly influence the environments we live in, and it has been a pleasure to work with a collective, all striving for the same outcomes.”

Regional director at Kier Construction, Doug Lloyd, said: “At Kier, we are committed to addressing climate change through our knowledge and expertise in modern, innovative energy saving and carbon reduction technologies.

“Our goal is to build a sustainable world and collaborative partnerships, like the one we enjoy with Teignbridge District Council, are key to delivering projects like Forde House that bring us another step closer to achieving this.”

The council is also progressing a programme of substantial decarbonisation projects at its leisure centres, including Teignmouth Lido, Newton Abbot Leisure Centre, and two phases of decarbonisation works at Broadmeadow Sports Centre, with the second phase due to commence next year. The projects combined will reduce our in-house carbon footprint by 334 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of removing 150 domestic gas-fired boilers.