Westminster has declared a climate emergency – our commitment to becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030 and carbon neutral city by 2040.
We have already made great progress in reducing the Council’s emissions, and have achieved an 11.4% reduction across our estate and operations since 2019.
We are also making it easier for other organisations, businesses and individuals to reduce their emissions, by supporting sustainable travel, building partnerships with businesses, and promoting environmental action across all our suppliers and supply chains.
Read more about some of our projects to cut emissions below.
We are developing 780 high-quality, sustainable homes at the Ebury Bridge estate in Pimlico. The ambitious low carbon scheme will use 90 per cent less carbon than the existing estate, and ‘grey water recycling’ will be used to supply water for everyday household functions. The development will also be almost entirely car-free (with disabled car parking only and 2,000 cycle spaces), in order to encourage walking and cycling, while reducing air and noise pollution in the area. It will also see the planting of 270 new trees, flowerbeds and plants, to help increase biodiversity throughout the area.
Healthy Streets Everyday is a project run by Cross River Partnership which aims to improve local air quality, increase cycling and walking rates, and provide more open and green space on our streets for people.
As part of Westminster’s ActiveStreets programme and the council’s COVID-19 response, we will be installing 13 school streets across the borough to ensure children, staff and parents can travel to school safely.
We are also working with The Northbank to design and install a parklet on Drury Lane. Parklets are temporary pavement extensions which sit in seating areas, parking bays or cycling bays, offering simple solutions to improve local air quality.
The Marylebone LEN (Low Emission Neighbourhood) was an important project for Westminster, piloting the diesel surcharge and showcasing School Streets, which have since been rolled out across the city. The project provided a variety of public realm enhancements including 35 new charging points for electric vehicles, an improved cycle lane, new cycle storage and trees. It also raised awareness of vehicle idling to improve air quality. Funded by the council and Transport for London, it has helped to reduce the dominance of vehicle traffic and improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Over the past year, we have started carrying out a range of upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of our leisure centres, which are responsible for 7.3% of our total carbon footprint.
Upgrades include switching spotlights at Paddington Rec to LED lighting, installing new pool covers and air handling units at the Queen Mother Sports Centre, and carrying out a major swimming pool refurbishment with electric steam heating at the Porchester Centre.
Finding new methods of sustainable construction is a key priority for us and our construction partner, FM Conway, as we work to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.
An innovative mixture made of 85% recycled materials has been used for resurfacing works on Third Avenue in Queen’s Park. The use of FM Conway’s ‘SureLayer® E’ and 55% fewer lorry movements on this project provided a 40% carbon saving and created less pollution compared to traditional construction methods.
A project improving the pavement along King Street near St James’s Park saw a reduction in carbon emissions by more than 70% thanks to the use of electric construction equipment and low-carbon paving slabs. The project has received an award from the Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation.
We plan to retrofit our entire social housing portfolio, wherever tenants permit works to be carried out. Housing services have now transferred data from the whole housing stock into a modelling tool, which shows that 64% of Westminster’s social housing stock is already at EPC Band C, 4% is at Band B and 32% is below B and C.
By the end of March 2022, the Council will have retrofitted 75 of the least energy efficient properties up to an average of EPC Band C. To enable further retrofits, funding has been set aside from the Housing Revenue Account and grant funding is being sought from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. The final goal is to retrofit all stock connected to communal boilers to an average of EPC Band B by 2030 and remaining stock by 2040.
In addition to upgrading their energy efficiency, we have also commissioned the installation of 124 solar power systems across 65 sites in Westminster in 2011, to harbour sustainable energy for homes across the city.
The systems supply electricity to the communal areas such as corridors and lifts of several Westminster-owned housing sites such as the Amberley Estate and Holcroft Court, allowing our residents to benefit from sustainable energy in their homes.
They also send energy to the national grid, to help support the use of sustainable energy across the country.
In 2020, the solar power systems saved 91 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to driving a car around the world 13 times.
We are partnering with Veolia to gradually transform our entire waste and recycling fleet to electric vehicles. The first tranche of new and upcycled electric waste vehicles were unveiled in 2021, along with a fleet of electric street cleaning vehicles for the West End.
In the future, the plan is for the whole waste fleet to be electrified and charged from electricity generated from Westminster’s waste at the Southeast London Combined Heat and Power (SELCHP) facility.
As a council, we are:
- purchasing 100% renewable electricity for council-owned sites since 2020
- reducing carbon emissions across all our council buildings, including offices, libraries and leisure centres, with new low-carbon heating, insulation and solar panels
- we have committed to invest £13m in our corporate property energy efficiency programme by March 2022
- reducing the carbon footprint of our council equities by 60% and investing £110 million from our Pension Fund into renewable energy infrastructure
- rolling out carbon literacy training to over 50 staff, and added climate action to inductions and performance frameworks
Across Westminster, we are:
- installing LED lighting across all our street lights, saving over 50% on energy consumption
- continuing to improve the infrastructure for walking and cycling – including introducing 12km of new cycle lanes around the city, with plans for more
- working to consolidate waste and freight services - we have piloted a micro-distribution hub at Park Lane to support zero emission deliveries across the West End and are exploring creating more hubs
Other projects across Westminster
Across Westminster, businesses, community groups and other partnerships have come together to help tackle the climate emergency. Some of the examples of this work can be found below.
The Westminster Property Association is a group representing over 240 organisations with interests in Westminster’s built environment, including landowners, contractors, architects, and investors. In 2020 the group published Zero Carbon Westminster, which recommends actions that WPA members, including the Council, urgently need to take to substantially reduce emissions from buildings. The WPA is now carrying out further research on best practice for retrofitting heritage buildings.
In 2019 the Crown Estate introduced a Food Waste Pledge for restaurants in the Regent Street and St James’s area of the West End, with participating restaurants aiming to reduce food waste by 25%. Restaurants have tackled food waste by developing new dishes that re-use unwanted ingredients and offcuts from other dishes. The 12 participating restaurants include Brasserie Zedel, Café Murano and Hawksmoor Air Street’s.
Wild West End is a partnership between West End property owners to improve biodiversity in central London by encouraging birds, bees, and bats back into the West End. The project aims to introduce green corridors between open spaces in the West End through the installation of new green roofs, planters, and street trees to allow wildlife to move freely between Westminster’s open spaces.
In 2021, the Council opened up its Open Spaces Greener Places Fund, providing £375,000 of funding to external organisations to help improve the quality, quantity, or impact of green and open spaces in the borough. A total of ten projects were funded, attracting additional external funding of £65,000 to support green space improvement across the community.
Cross River Partnership is working with organisations across London to lower pollution levels and achieve cleaner air in the city through its Clean Air Villages projects. Initiatives include setting up directories to help businesses find zero-emissions suppliers and trialling shared electric vehicles.
Clean Air Villages 3 (CAV3) will improve the air quality in 16 different locations including Soho, Fitzrovia and Embankment, where air pollution is high. The project estimates reducing emissions by 24 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to charging 3 million smart phones.