Building and managing its own large-scale wind turbines; setting up the UK’s first municipal energy company for social good; Bristol is taking action against climate change and doing its best to work towards a greener state of affairs

Back in 2015, Bristol became the only UK city to receive the prestigious accolade of European Green Capital – a testament to our collective passion and energy when it comes to sustainability. Our mayor, Marvin Rees, has now committed Bristol to becoming a carbon neutral city by the year 2050, a big ambition that will mean a cleaner, greener place to live for local people.

As one of the largest employers in the city, Bristol City Council is at the forefront of our action against climate change with a dedicated energy team responsible for delivering projects that benefit the social, economic and environmental health of our city.Marvin Rees has committed to Bristol becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050 – which will make the city yet more beautiful prospect

In recent years the council has become the country’s only local authority to build and manage its own large-scale wind turbines; and reduced its own carbon emissions by 60% including reductions across museums, schools, offices and libraries. It has delivered a multimillion-pound solar investment programme on corporate and community buildings; and launched the first section of a new low-carbon and lower-cost heat network in Temple Quarter as well as a number of mini heat networks serving social housing across the city. Additionally it has set up Bristol Energy, the UK’s first municipal energy company for social good, supporting local renewable generation, SMEs and addressing fuel poverty.

The council has big plans to keep us on target for 2050, including supporting community groups to build and manage their own energy projects and increasing the number of charging facilities for electric vehicles, but there are also things that Bristol people can do to help save money and cut carbon at home.

What can I do at home?

One of the most effective ways of reducing our own carbon footprints is by making sure that our homes are as energy efficient as possible. This has the added bonus of reducing energy consumption and could save hundreds on energy bills.

The council has launched an energy home improvements scheme to help homeowners and private landlords to do this, supported by trusted installers, project management expertise, affordable finance options and occasional grant funding to help cover the cost.

The Warm Up Bristol scheme has already helped over 1,500 local households to become cosier and cheaper to heat, by offering solar panels; boilers and heating systems; cavity, loft and solid wall insulation; windows, doors and draught-proofing. The team also offers free energy-saving advice and a few top tips to help cut costs. To find out more, get online and visit warmupbristol.co.uk or give the team a call on 0117 3521180.Some of the interventions being piloted include energy efficient refitting of Bristol homes

What can I do in my local community?

There are a number of community energy groups operating across the city – make contact with your local group to get involved with projects in your area. There’s a full list of groups on the Bristol Energy Network website at the end of this article; there you can also register for the organisation’s open meeting on 3 July at Easton Community Centre if you fancy hearing from these community collectives.

The meeting will be a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Bristol Community Strategy for Energy – reviewing progress, celebrating achievements and updating strategy to reflect the changing energy environment, building on work carried out by the Smart Energy City Collaboration. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about REPLICATE (Renaissance in Places with Innovative Citizenship And Technology) with Bristol Energy Network and the local council. A European research and development project, it’s earmarked Bristol as one of three lead cities (Smart City ‘Lighthouses’) along with Florence and San Sebastian – each to deploy smart integrated energy, mobility and ICT solutions. In Bristol, the Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Partnership area was chosen for the pilot, exploring how smart technology could be used to reduce the cost, and amount, of energy consumed; use more local renewable sources of energy; enable greater sustainable mobility to increase health and wellbeing and enable better access to training and employment; and engage citizens in their energy use and travel patterns to change behaviour. Some of the interventions being piloted include energy efficient refitting of homes; development of local renewable energies; the introduction of 32 e-bikes and six electric car club vehicles; and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Where can I find out more about the council’s energy projects?

There’s a website dedicated to the city’s energy projects and our journey towards becoming a carbon neutral city. Find out more about Bristol’s green progress at energyservicebristol.co.uk.

A GIANT LEAP FOR BRISTOL’S GREEN FUTURE

The council, in partnership with the University of Bristol, UWE, Invest Bristol and Bath, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Bristol Energy and Bristol is Open – a collaboration between the tech, media and telecommunications industry, universities, communities, and government – has just published a range of investment and partnership opportunities called ‘City Leap’.

The aim is to create a series of energy and infrastructure investment opportunities to help create a healthier and fairer city for Bristol residents, helping create jobs, maintain economic competitiveness, de-carbonise the city, build strong partnerships and empower communities to take their future into their own hands. The City Leap is outlined in a prospectus with a call-out to organisations, investors and innovators – an opportunity to deliver something truly transformative for Bristol, building a citywide energy system that will protect the environment and improve the quality of life for people in local areas.

An expression-of-interest window is open until 31 August. More information and the full City Leap prospectus document can be found on the council’s Energy Service website. Get involved…

bristolenergynetwork.org; energyservicebristol.co.uk/prospectus

All images courtesy of Bristol City Council