Somers Town Future Neighbourhood 2030

About the project

Future Neighbourhoods 2030 (FN 2030) is a £7.7 million multi-year programme. In 2021, the GLA invited London boroughs, Business Improvement Districts and other local partnerships to contribute to a green recovery, by supporting neighbourhoods to become exemplar models of sustainability and innovation.

The vision for a Future Neighbourhood is one that embraces a green recovery and commits to tackling the climate and ecological emergencies, whilst addressing London’s health and social inequalities. This will mean Future Neighbourhoods where Londoners are working together to lower emissions, clean up their air, improve their local green spaces, reduce their waste and transform their homes.

In March 2022, the GLA awarded Somers Town funding as one of two areas to pilot this approach due to the projects proposed successfully meeting the programme’s themes, the Mayor’s Green New Deal aims, and a commitment to work with communities to create a Future Neighbourhood that meets local needs.

Objectives and goals

The FN 2030 aims to deliver against the Green Deal mission objectives, these include:

  • Improve the natural environment and air quality, tackle climate and ecological emergencies
  • Promote and incentivise activities that sustain and grow London’s green economy
  • Prioritise interventions reducing health inequalities and social injustices
  • Engage Londoners and businesses in their journey to become a zero pollution and greener city

In delivering this, the programme focuses on the following themes:

  • Retrofitting of homes, commercial and public buildings
  • Creating a decarbonised, smart and integrated energy system
  • Improving air quality and creating zero emission zones
  • Climate adapted, resilient and green neighbourhoods
  • Zero waste, circular economy

About Somers Town

Somers Town lies within the London Borough of Camden and is located between St Pancras International and Euston train stations directly to the north of the Euston Road.

It is one of the most deprived areas in Camden, with four of the five Lower Super Output Areas in the neighbourhood amongst the 20% most deprived in the UK. 15.5% of residents live in fuel poverty. 73% of households in the area are deprived based on at least one of the four dimensions of deprivation which are employment, education, health and disability, and household overcrowding.

The housing stock is a blend of pre-1919 terraced housing, post-war housing estates and mixed tenure new build including a new 20-storey residential tower.  The majority of residents in the area are in social rented accommodation (73%) compared to the Camden average of 33.7%.  

Over 550 homes (on Council owned estates) in the area, the new primary school and the community facilities are connected to a Council owned district energy network called Somers Town Energy.  Somers Town Energy is led by a Combined Heat and Power unit that also supplies the Francis Crick Institute with electricity.  The district energy infrastructure provides a strong opportunity to rapidly decarbonise connected buildings at scale.

Economically, the neighbourhood sits in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter innovation district an area containing world leading academic and research institutions and the European headquarters of both Google and Meta. The area is also home to world class institutions including the British Library and the Francis Crick Institute

Somers Town is exposed to climate hazards, which, combined with the levels of deprivation, make the neighbourhood particularly vulnerable to climate change. The level of climate risk as defined by the GLA’s Climate Risk tool is High. This includes high levels of heat and flood risk. The area has a small local park but below average access to green space (0.6 hectares/1000 residents).


The FN 2030 is delivered in close partnership with local organisations, business, the local authority and most importantly, the local community. Lead partners include:

  • Somers Town Community Association
  • Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum and
  • Camden Council

Early achievements/Impacts

The programme is halfway through delivery with its third and last phase due to be completed by end of 2025. Some early achievements/impacts have been identified however, we will be undertaking significant evaluation work during this last phase to identify learning and more importantly, replicable best practices that can be shared across London and beyond.

A Local sustainability Strategy (Somers Town Area-based strategy 2023-2030)

  • A long-term plan for Somers Town that identifies further work that needs to happen locally to combat climate change up to 2030.
  • Human rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were used to frame the strategy.
  • The strategy is going to be built into the Somers Town Neighbourhood Plan as a next step to ensure it can influence local interventions and policies.

Have Your Say Today – Somers Town Area-based Strategy 2023-2030 – Somers Town – Future Neighbourhoods 2030 (

Housing retrofit.

  • 50 homes to be retrofitted with internal wall insulation as part of this trial. Under 40 have been retrofitted so far.
  • Over 200 homes have received energy advice and support from a residents-led energy saving club.
  • A Camden based Retrofit Credit service has been set up Camden Retrofit Credits – Camden Climate Alliance

Greening projects

Gardening activities and green space improvements have taken place in 7 different estates, these include: Hadstock House, Walker House, Monica Shaw, Phoenix Court, St Francis, St Antony’s and Chalton House. Activities include bringing back to life unused beds and green patches to grow culturally appropriate food and wildlife friendly areas as well as introducing new growing beds to maximise growing space. The growing beds have helped residents to connect, share and develop skills with one another. Climate resilience green infrastructure has also been installed as part of this initiative.

Green Mobility Hubs

The Somers Town Green Mobility Hub scheme has been developed to create some of Camden’s (and the UK’s) first Green Mobility Hubs, combining a range of shared and environmentally sustainable mobility options at 6 locations across Somers Town. The hubs offer will be tailored to the demand of the specific area they will serve and can include shared bikes car clubs, electric vehicle charging points, cargo bikes and e-scooters, as well as other community features such as cycle parking, seating and planting or play areas, water fountains and other amenities.

Other early achievements include:

  • Over 4,000 people have been reached during the life of the project to date. 0ver 85% of those involved are from minority communities
  • More than 10 green apprenticeships on green skills delivered
  • Over 2,000 hours of volunteering have been dedicated to the projects
  • 300 preloved bikes made roadworthy. A 90% increase in physical activity among those engaging with local cycling initiatives
  • 24 young people completed bike maintenance AQA 
  • 15 short-term employment opportunities created

Next steps and lessons learnt

In addition to delivering a portfolio of over 20 projects during phase three (March 24-Nov 25), we will be focusing on the identification of best practices and build on the legacy of the project to ensure there is continuity of the work to deliver against the aims of the Somers Town Area Based Strategy.

Some early lessons include:

  • Community engagement from the very early stages of project conceptualisation is key for the successful delivery and adoption of any intervention.
  • Funders delivery timescales not always married with the delivery capacity or local organisations.
  • Sustainability needs to be made relevant to communities where other basic needs take priority. Talking about the climate crisis needs to be translated into practical actions that also link to current economic and social crisis.
  • Building positive and sustainable synergic alliances and partnerships is essential to achieve enhanced community outcomes, however, this requires times, skills and dedication.

Photos, links, and references

A Sustainable Business Community Case Study


The London Bridge area is a densely populated commercial district in the London Borough of Southwark. Best known as a transport hub and the original crossing point over the tidal Thames, it is now a thriving neighbourhood for big international businesses, many SMEs, cultural attractions, and independent traders. Operating in different sectors and based in properties ranging from Victorian archways to state-of-the-art BREEAM certified developments, no two businesses are the same, yet the 350+ organisations based in this area share an ambition to make London Bridge one of the most sustainable places to do business in the world. Team London Bridge (TLB), as the local Business Improvement District (BID), has made this central to their mission and have consolidated common challenges and goals to develop community led projects and work towards a goal of net zero by 2030. This target can only be achieved by working in partnership and by aligning with work underway from Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority. 

The area is geographically small but has the opportunity to have far reaching influence at home and around the world, amplifying the impact of the hyper-local projects being undertaken.  


In summer 2022, Team London Bridge launched the London Bridge Net Zero Routemap. The Routemap has been driven by the London Bridge business community and was formed through a rigorous consultation process to make it ambitious yet practical and achievable. Using a carbon accounting tool, Team London Bridge were able to calculate emissions across the area. In 2019, the businesses, including landlords, in the London Bridge BID were responsible for 130,000 tonnes of CO2e, equivalent to powering 25,295 homes a year (a fifth of the homes in London Borough of Southwark). 

Of this significant carbon footprint, it was identified that 65% was associated with heating, cooling, and powering buildings, with 50% being associated with office-based businesses, as the predominant type of premises in the area. 


Three types of actions are proposed in the Routemap to decarbonise: 

Enabling Mechanisms: Transitioning to carbon neutrality requires an investment in enabling mechanisms. This will build the capacity to accelerate decarbonisation and implement more complex projects, both for the area and individual organisations.  

Communal Projects: Five large-scale projects are proposed, addressing the area’s largest sources of carbon emissions. These projects require multi-stakeholder collaboration to be effectively delivered. 

Business-led Interventions: A series of interventions have been proposed for each different business type explored in this document: offices, food and drink businesses, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and theatre. These interventions will help them reach the net zero targets. 


The three actions are supported by a Sustainable Transition Fund which would be administered and spent on local sustainable projects to deliver local benefits.  


To align with both Southwark Council and London-wide targets, Team London Bridge has set a 2030 target date. Of course, this depends on many elements out of the control of the BID, but important deliverables are possible and are being delivered on time.  


In January 2022, Team London Bridge established the London Bridge Net Zero Steering Group. Made up of 15 businesses the group meets regularly and support the implementation process, bringing expertise from their business sector and acting as ambassadors for projects within their own organisations. 

Steve Johnson is a Director at Hilson Moran and has been nominated Chair of the Steering Group. Steve said, “I’m really pleased to be able to help the London Bridge community take action on climate change, it’s so important for businesses to play a full role, and as a community we can act together.” 

Members have established sub-groups to lead on other aspects of delivery, making the most of individual fields of knowledge and interests.  

London Bridge Decarbonisation Charter 

On 1st February 2024, a London Bridge Decarbonisation Charter is being launched, with 30 founding signatories. The Charter is voluntary for Team London Bridge (TLB) members and area stakeholders and allows them to commit to making London Bridge one of the most sustainable places to do business in the world. Businesses can commit to supporting the wider aims, but also indicate their own net zero targets.  

London Bridge Green Network 

The London Bridge Green Network is an informal group designed to help impart knowledge, innovation, and enthusiasm for sustainable projects throughout the community. Meeting quarterly, it provides a platform to celebrate achievements and network with others who are trying to drive change within their own areas of influence.  

Impact on citizens   

The infrastructure of groups and networks established in London Bridge is empowering individuals with knowledge and confidence to make changes within their organisations. Supported by tried and tested tools and having the knowledge that Team London Bridge is delivering projects that are proven to reduce carbon footprints, business leaders, employees and community stakeholders are motivated and assured in taking action and making choices. 

Funding mechanism   

Team London Bridge has attracted funding to deliver large scale projects already and delivered them successfully. However, the most significant funding mechanism for this area is the BID Levy itself, that allows for a small team to deliver projects for the business community. Every 5 years, the businesses vote in a ballot to decide if they want to continue being part of a BID, and if the proposed services match their own priorities and ambitions. They then pay a small percentage of their business rates – an additional Levy – into a fund that invests in the area via the BID. Managed in this case by Team London Bridge, this community has made it clear that they want their Levy to be spent on sustainable projects, as well as other high-priority services including security, public realm and greening, CSR, and place promotion.  

Past, current and future (next steps) projects: 

Bikes for Business 

Team London Bridge has supported 200 businesses over 4 years to transition away from motorised vehicles to zero emission cargo bike deliveries, supported by funding from TfL and Impact on Urban Health. This has included working with small businesses delivering locally, like food suppliers or even dog walking businesses, to a hospital transporting blood samples and waste contractors. 

Consolidated Community Recycling 

Team London Bridge has offered a subsidised waste and recycling service to their BID members for over a decade as a way of reducing operating costs, encouraging high recycling rates, and consolidating collections via a specialist contractor. Any of member businesses (whether office occupier, retailer, or food & drink outlet) that choose the appointed contractor as their waste and recycling provider is eligible for a 50% subsidy on all recycling streams – providing a significant cost saving. 

Business Climate Challenge 

20 businesses in London Bridge have committed to improving their office energy efficiency by 10% over a year as part of a programme supported by the Mayor of London across 250 SME businesses in London.  

Southwark Climate Collective 

This current initiative provides free, expert decarbonisation support for 160 businesses across Southwark to reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency and cut costs. 

Participating businesses can choose to take part in one of four programme streams – waste, energy, freight, and supply chains – through which they receive tailored technical support, trainings, network events, carbon literacy training and a celebration event. 

Communal Project – District Heat Network 

The biggest gains in emission reduction would be through a large-scale district heat network, linking up major land ownings and estates such as Guy’s Hospital, The Shard, and London Bridge City. In June 2023, we commissioned a pre-feasibility study. This was completed in December 2023 and indicates a large-scale project based on energy extracted from the river Thames could be possible. A steering group is in place to support the work on this going forward and the concept is gaining significant traction as both a sustainable and economic business proposition.  

Sustainable Transition 

London Bridge businesses are now seeking ways of working with Southwark Council on a Green Bond, due to launch in 2024. This will be a way for businesses to support the wider borough transition to net zero, to offset carbon and support a wider responsible business approach, for example through creating jobs and tackling fuel poverty.  

Find out more 

  1. London Bridge Decarbonisation Charter
  2. Measurement tools (xtonnes)
  3. Southwark Climate Collective
  4. Net Zero Steering Group
  5. Subsidised community recycling

Bringing communities together through energy efficiency

In addition, currently there is a lack of coherent central government provided support to middle income owner-occupiers seeking to retrofit their properties, and, even where support does exist it’s hard to blend across a mix of tenures, which makes neighbourhood initiatives challenging. Through their Better Homes Leeds programme, Leeds City Council are creating an approach which tackles multiple barriers to help deliver the scale of retrofit required.on. 

Challenge – complex, mixed-tenure and typology neighbourhood scale retrofit

Leeds has set a net zero target date of 2030 and, in common with many local authorities, housing accounts for a large share (27%) of emissions. Leeds has approximately 360,000 homes of which around 55,000 are council-owned. The housing stock is varied, with around 80,000 inefficient Victorian era homes where cavity wall insulation is not an option – as well as 115 tower blocks. Most neighbourhoods are mixed tenure – with owner-occupiers and rentals (social housing and private) frequently mingled together.

In 2016-2018 with funding from the Local Growth Fund, ECO, Housing Revenue Account and direct council investment, Leeds City Council (LCC) rolled out a comprehensive £4.5million retrofit programme of 180 properties in Holbeck. With 70% private rental, 20% council owned and 10% owner-occupier, the success of the scheme relied on in-depth engagement with tenants and careful management. Landlords paid 25% of the costs of renovation and residents 0-25% depending on their income. The approach was so successful that when LCC announced phase 2, 90% of properties had signed up within a month, ultimately improving another 150 properties.

But translating this success to all homes in Leeds would cost approximately £5.4bn – not something the public purse can afford. Private financing is needed – but for many owner occupiers, the cost of improvements wouldn’t ‘pay for themselves’ through energy savings – at least not until after people would typically have moved to another property and so they lack the incentive to invest.

Solution – multi-strand intervention including novel private financing approach 

LCC are developing an approach to neighbourhood-scale mixed-tenure retrofit which seeks to overcome multiple barriers. Working with Arup and other partners

including Lloyds Bank and Octopus Energy, with funding from the partners plus the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, MCS Charitable Foundation and the Green Home Finance Accelerator, LCC have developed a model (‘Better Homes Leeds; BHL’) which:

· Evaluates the appropriate interventions for particular housing archetypes (eg solid brick terraces with gas boilers in a conservation area or turn-of-century houses with a gas boiler).

· Creates an easy to use ‘one stop shop’ to enable householders to access the right advice, suppliers and financing.

· Will be tested, iterated and improved through the duration of the programme.

· Will develop a new financing method to support owner-occupier retrofit.

Diagram title – LBH Draft Financial and Operating Model – Arup

The partners are now working to finesse this model and considering establishing the delivery structures. In parallel with this model, LCC are also creating a green

skills plan to ensure the right capabilities are available locally to meet the demand for retrofit.

In Holbeck, LCC were able to deliver retrofit improvements across the whole mixed tenure neighbourhood by using a phased approach. They first delivered improvements to 40 council houses. This kick-started positive word of mouth. They declared the neighbourhood a selective licencing area, giving them jurisdiction to inspect rental properties and identify priority improvements, while also dealing with legacy repair issues. Finally, the council used a disused building in the community as a site office, and as a regular point of contact with the community. This comprehensive approach, with a visual presence in the neighbourhood, won the trust of the community over time, leading to over 95% take up rates.

Better Homes Leeds will also pioneer the development of a new (to the UK) form of financing called ‘property linked financing’. This is a form of loan which is attached to a property rather than an individual. This means that repayment obligations transfer to a new owner once a property is sold. This approach overcomes the ‘payback period’ barrier for owner occupiers and because it is a low-risk, long term form of financing, it can be provided at relatively low interest rates. At present, this sort of financial instrument is not available in the UK, but LCC are working with the Green Finance Institute and others to develop it – along with the associated legal provisions.

This new financing approach, combined with the experience LCC acquired through the Holbeck work will provide the council with a firm foundation for scaling up their neighbourhood retrofit approach across the city.

Impact – emissions reduction, energy savings and social cohesion 

Working at a neighbourhood level is financially more efficient, has the potential to increase emissions reduction through looking holistically at an area and also has knock-on benefits of improved social cohesion. George Munson, Senior Project Manager in the Climate, Energy and Green Spaces (CEGS) team at Leeds City Council observes that “the value is not just in the efficiencies of working at scale, but also in addressing the multiple social challenges that local people face. This broad approach can be transformative and long lasting.”

One mother of four described the difficulties she had keeping her home warm prior to the work. Now her children have an affordably warm home where they have private spaces to do their homework, rather than living in the one warm room in the house.

By introducing a property-linked finance component, LCC will be able to more easily finance neighbourhood scale retrofit programmes through making schemes more financially viable for owner-occupiers.

What next? – surveying to create city wide solution prioritisation

Better Homes Leeds and a shadow property-linked finance offer should be up and running by March 2024.

In the meantime, Leeds is conducting a thorough survey to ‘zone’ the whole city. This will draw on a range of characteristics (tenure, building typology, suitability for solar PV) and integrated with existing heat-network viability mapping in order to target and shape future neighbourhood retrofit activity.

Find out more 

Property Linked Financing

Net Zero Homes Plan Summary

Leeds Retrofit Grant Funding secured

Aberdeen’s JV to kick start green hydrogen production

Alongside the build-up off offshore wind, ACC are aiming to stimulate the production of Green Hydrogen in the region. As well as providing some ‘anchor demand’ to kick start the industry, they have formed a joint venture with bp to build a Hydrogen Hub with related solar farm on the site of a former landfill. 

Challenge – kick starting a green hydrogen economy 

Hydrogen is likely to play a key role in our transition to net zero, primarily as a means of ‘storing’ energy produced by renewable sources – and then turned back into energy again when there is insufficient wind / sun to supply sufficient clean energy to the grid.  

Supplying this green hydrogen is a big opportunity area, and a good fit for Aberdeen since lots of legacy O&G skills and supply chain are applicable in this sector. The North Sea Transition Deal estimated that 68% of existing O&G jobs could retrain in renewables and a more recent report by Robert Gordon University puts the figure as high as 90%.

However, at present the large-scale storage infrastructure required for ‘grid balancing’ is not available and not projected to be in place until 2030. Therefore other ‘use cases’ for green hydrogen are helpful in terms of stimulating demand. These include using hydrogen in fuel cells which can then power vehicles. Aberdeen’s First Bus has a fleet of 15 hydrogen powered buses, and the council has a fleet of over 35 other vehicles (with a plan to increase this to 104 by 2027), including waste trucks.  

ACC are using these vehicles to provide some ‘anchor demand’ for green hydrogen production and support the development of a new green Hydrogen Hub which will be built beside Altens Industrial Estate on the coast of Southern Aberdeen.  

Solution – joint venture with BP and scaled phase up plan 

To be viable, green hydrogen produced in the Hub needs to be cost-competitive with diesel. Factoring in the value of providing Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs), the Hub is projected to meet this threshold.  

However, the investment case has various other assumptions built in (that demand will expand, that the electricity price is £45/MWh) which represent risks that private sector operators were hesitant to take on.  

ACC overcame this challenge by offering to provide some of the initial capital and inviting private sector partners into a joint venture (JV) with the council. There was significant interest with over 25 responses to the initial ‘Prior Information Notice’ and ultimately the council formed a JV with bp. 

Impact – creating jobs in the green economy 

While direct employment in the hub is projected to be relatively low at 20-30 jobs created, accounting for impacts on the wider supply chain and economy, more than 700 new jobs are projected to be created4 alongside over £700mn of gross value add to the economy. As noted above, many of these jobs will require skills already mastered by the legacy O&G workforce – for example, building and maintaining pipes for a distribution network – and as such provide alternative employment opportunities. 

What next? – green H2 in production in 2025 and plans to scale 

Production is due to start in 2025, supplying enough fuel for First Buses’ 15 (soon to be 25) fuel cell double-deckers and the council’s fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. There are then plans to expand production to serve burgeoning demand in the rail, haulage, and marine sectors.  

Find out more 

Council Climate Change Plan  

Net Zero Aberdeen Route Map and Strategies 

North Sea Transition Deal 

Sutton’s Green Enterprise Partnership Accelerates SME Decarbonisation

Driving local regeneration – economic and environmental

Small businesses employ around 60% of the workforce in the UK – and generate 1/3 of territorial greenhouse gas emissions1. With a target to reach net zero as a borough and 93% of businesses in the borough being classified as ‘micro’, Sutton are making smart use of business rates relief to support businesses and reduce emissions. Discover how they did it and the impact this will drive.  

Challenge – how to reduce emissions not directly controlled by the council? 

In common with lots of UK authorities, Sutton declared a Climate Emergency, supported by specific plans of action to make Sutton carbon neutral. While addressing ‘in-house’ emissions is relatively easy (through switching to renewable power, upgrading to LED lighting, installing smart meters etc2), the council has thought hard about how to enable emissions reduction across the wider group of stakeholders in the borough.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are an important constituency and typically lack the bandwidth and resources to focus on decarbonisation. They are also under significant commercial pressure following the covid-19 pandemic with the rate of business ‘deaths’ in the borough increasing and Sutton High Street vacancy rate on an upward trajectory since 2015.

Solution – a cost effective way to improve SME robustness and reduce emissions 

Sutton has created a model which both financially supports small businesses and incentivises them to reduce their emissions. Using powers under section 69 of the Localism Act 2011, the council is offering business rates relief to SMEs which commit to a 4-step decarbonisation pathway.

Step Standard Milestone Rates Discount 
1.Commit Member Join the Partnership by committing to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero before 2050.  None 
2.Assess Level 1Measure carbon footprint and set emissions reduction baseline. None 
3.Plan Level 2Have strategies in place to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero before 2050. 100% FY 2023-24 
4.Reduce  Level 3 Implement emission reduction strategies to cut carbon emissions annually by at least 5%.100% FY 2024-25 

Typically business rate payments are split between the council (30%), the GLA (33%) and central government (37%). The council has made this initiative cost effective for them by charging SMEs a fee equivalent to 30% of business rates to participate in the scheme – thereby resulting in a ‘net’ reduction of 70%. The administration of the scheme (including provision of technical assistance by delivery partners, Green Mark3, supporting businesses in target setting and verification) is funded from this fee.

Importantly, to access the rates relief in the second year, the scheme requires participating SMEs to be able to demonstrate to a third party (Green Mark) that they have truly reduced emissions by at least 5% against their baseline, meaning that Sutton will be able to provide credible evidence of progress towards their wider area target. In addition, although businesses receive free technical assistance for ‘baselining’ of emissions and emissions reduction ‘planning’, they can only access relief once they have completed these steps and it has been validated, ensuring that they are truly committed partners.

Impact – initial 63 tonnes annual CO2 reduction, driving progress to net zero 

Sutton administered an open competition amongst businesses to access the rates relief and 77 companies have signed up for the first year cohort. If each of these businesses reduces emissions by 5% this would equate to approximately 634 tonnes annually, an equivalent to the entire carbon footprint of 5 people. 

Sutton’s goal with this pilot is to test whether tax incentives are an effective tool to drive business action on climate. It also aims to demonstrate on a practical level what the corporate sustainability literature has identified as a ‘statistical correlation between business environmental and economic performance5.’ 

The council intends to validate these assumptions and achieve good value for money in the process. If successful, Sutton will explore opportunities to expand the pilot to include more businesses and demographics. 

What next? – measuring and maximising impact 

The GEP has just launched, and Sutton will be measuring the impact across both economic and environmental indicators:

● Economic: variance in turnover, gross profit as a percentage of turnover, labour turnover and headcount.

● Environmental: nominal and percentage emissions reduction in scopes 1 (operations) and 2 (energy).

The team is mapping out additional support to SMEs in the partnership, including enabling joined-up procurement to access sustainable products and services at scale. 

Momentum is building around the GEP initiative and Sutton and partners are in discussion with a variety of organisations to help scale the concept more widely, in the UK and beyond.

Find out more 

Green Enterprise Partnership 






Newcastle’s Low Carbon Neighbourhoods

Place based decarbonisation needs to happen at scale. But as 3Ci’s research has demonstrated, the sums of money involved are eye watering.

Treating each property in an area as an individual unit to be optimised is unlikely to result in the most cost-effective set of interventions. Instead, examining options at a neighbourhood scale will allow for a more efficient use of resources, as well as supporting better planning for local low voltage network reinforcement – that is, ensuring the right infrastructure is in place to supply the necessary grid power to the neighbourhood.

Newcastle City Council (NCC) is developing a Low Carbon Neighbourhood model to discover how to achieve this aim. The project looks initially at a low rise mixed-tenure residential neighbourhood of 228 homes, with 156 being council owned (and managed by Your Homes Newcastle).  As the pilot evolves, a generalisable process is being developed for replication elsewhere as well as providing a springboard for unlocking additional inward investment to the city.  

Challenge – balancing specificity with a need to scale

To date, attempts at establishing neighbourhood scale guidance for residential decarbonisation have struggled to provide sufficiently accurate and complete recommendations. A lack of accurate data alongside challenges getting all relevant stakeholders to collaborate have hampered efforts to move from theoretical estimations to the more fully fleshed out details necessary to provide the confidence to invest.

Examples of complexities to be resolved include:

  • Differences in the characteristics of housing typologies (eg flats, townhouses, terraces) and age imply different solutions in terms of fabric insulation, heating, renewable generation etc
  • Older properties in particular often lack detailed floorplans and BIM data needed to design the best interventions
  • Power and heat demand varies significantly by time of day, with implications for the optimal solution design
  • Mixed tenure neighbourhoods exacerbate the complexity of achieving agreement between residents
  • Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have their own regulatory compliance requirements which aren’t always considered alongside local authority priorities

Solution – building a robust techno-economic model from ground up

Newcastle City Council are in the process of building a replicable model for neighbourhood scale decarbonisation.

The first pilot neighbourhood, St Paul’s Place, was selected because:

  • ‘Fabric’ retrofit improvements were already in place allowing better optimisation of heating systems
  • Gas boilers in the social housing units were nearing the end of their service life; an ideal opportunity for change

Working closely in partnership with Northern Powergrid (NPg), NCC initially pooled available neighbourhood level data including NPg low voltage network data, calculations on roof solar potential and housing stock data to establish a baseline set of characteristics.

Next, a selection of buildings from the neighbourhood were chosen (to be representative of the diversity of housing stock) and more detailed surveys were carried out:

  • An exterior 3D laser scan using a drone
  • An interior laser scan using Matterport technology[1]

These enabled the creation of a more de tailed BIM model of each property and provided the basis for an energy retrofit assessment to (and beyond) PAS 2035 standard[2].

Approximate models are being ‘cloned’ across the whole estate to enable exploration of the best combination of low carbon technologies to ‘de-gasify’ heating supply (for example communal air or ground source heatpumps), as well as incorporating local renewable electricity supply and storage.

NCC have fortnightly calls with NPg to align their activities and ensure that the implications of design choices are considered in the context of local network reinforcement and flexibility requirements – this is about a full city-wide approach and one that can be replicated by all local authorities in their licenced area. The aim is to model energy demand and usage on a half hourly basis[3] to help understand the distribution network load implications and potential role for solar photovoltaic, battery installation and smart dynamic optimisation.

Once complete[4], NCC expect to be able to identify the best local combination of technologies and build out the financing model which will enable deployment (likely a combination of grant and investment), but the goal is to use this level of modelling to de-risk projects, move away from grant funds and attract investment.

Impact – social housing as a market maker

While the pilot is still ongoing, NCC anticipate the outcome of this work to provide the confidence to invest in the right mix of low carbon technologies in St Paul’s Place. With >150 properties owned by the council in the neighbourhood, and over 25K across the city, they provide sufficient scale to help ‘make a market’.

The robust nature of the survey work will provide confidence to landlords and owner occupiers to invest in the upgrades, and there is potential for NPg to join an investment ‘alliance’ here given the potential reinforcement savings and flexibility gains the scheme could unlock.

What next? – legal and commercial arrangements

As NCC zero in on the most feasible technical options for the first Low Carbon Neighbourhood, they will work on which are the most feasible, and how to deliver them, both in terms of financing and legal / contractual terms (including any potential need to modify tenancy agreements).

Fortuitously, Ofgem has recently awarded funding to NPg to develop a ‘community DSO’ (distribution system operator – ie the more active future of DNOs) model. This 5 year project aims to deliver a proof of concept for a new replicable local energy market framework[5] – perhaps the solution to the financing of Newcastle’s LCNs.

Find out more

Low Carbon Neighbourhood overview slides

Northern Power Grid Community DSO innovation project

Newcastle Net Zero 2030 action plan



[3] NCC are working with to do this dynamic modelling at the neighbourhood level

[4] Targeted to be complete by end of 2023


Southwark Ramps ROI on Offset Payments 

Buildings account for 75% of emissions in Southwark. Addressing these emissions will be a key focus for the Borough which wants to hit net zero by 2030. Learn how Southwark determined the most effective way to progress towards this target by evaluating potential interventions across their capital portfolio.

Measuring the cost of carbon

Southwark has recently launched the Green Buildings Fund, which uses Section 106 carbon offset payments from developers to fund retrofit and low carbon technologies in council buildings. As of August 2022, developers in Southwark have contributed more than £5 million to the fund, and works are already underway to use this fund to decarbonise our buildings.

However, in order to work out the most effective way to spend this money, the council needed to evaluate how much different interventions would save. What was the cost per tonne of carbon?  

Baseline energy performance and pick cost effective interventions

Southwark measured a baseline energy performance for its building stock through engagement across departments:

  • Housing
  • Corporate facilities
  • Leisure centres

This brought together multiple individual studies of energy performance and then worked out the energy savings which would result from different interventions. Finally, they calculated the equivalent carbon saving and cost per tonne. This enabled a review of the pipeline of capital works to determine the most efficient way of maximising carbon savings.

344 tonnes of carbon saved annually

So far, the Green Buildings Fund has been used to fund the planned £700,000 refurbishment of 18 council homes on the Tustin Estate in Southwark, part of a wider development of around 700 homes which will be virtually zero-emission in operation. In addition to carbon savings, this work will improve insulation and thereby reduce energy bills for residents as well as combatting legacy damp and mould issues. During the retrofit works, residents will be re-housed elsewhere on the estate, a benefit of taking a holistic approach to a large-scale development project like this.

The work includes cavity wall insulation, triple glazing, air source heat pump systems and solar panels. It is estimated that the project will save 344 tonnes of carbon per year (the equivalent of driving around the equator around 500 times), at a cost of under £70 per tonne. This has shown that a rigorous carbon measuring methodology can be applied to energy efficiency improvements in buildings, while also delivering strong outcomes for residents. Residents were closely consulted on all the works and voted in favour in a ballot, demonstrating the value of meaningful engagement through the process.

What next?

The Climate Change Team at Southwark are actively seeking new projects within the council’s portfolio to fund. The Council has pledged to spend £2m from the Green Buildings Fund by 2024, and this includes launching the fund to the public, so that local organisations can also decarbonise their buildings. In addition, Southwark’s leisure centres will be council run from June 2024 presenting another opportunity to drive impact through this funding. Southwark will also be using an Early Review of its local plan to review the amount of money that developers pay for offsetting, which is currently set at £95 per tonne.

Find out more

Green Buildings Fund

Southwark local plan

Net Zero project development and delivery case study: Bristol City Leap

During the first five years of the partnership, nearly £500 million will be invested in a range of large infrastructure projects including the significant expansion of Bristol’s award-winning Heat Network that provides local businesses and residents with access to reliable, affordable low carbon heat from sustainable sources. Solar panels and low carbon heating systems will be installed at local schools, the council’s social housing will be made more energy efficient to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and substantial investment will go into community-owned renewable energy projects to help residents play a part in Bristol’s journey to carbon neutrality.

Vision for Bristol City Leap  

A sustainable environment, in which every individual has equal access to opportunities and is empowered to contribute to the continuing decarbonisation of their city whilst sharing in its success.  

Bristol City Leap’s Mission  

Action on City-scale decarbonisation of the built environment, working together to harness the power of communities, public and private sector resources to significantly respond to the climate emergency, fairly and inclusively, delivering shared outcomes for the city. 

Why Bristol City Leap? 

87% of people in Bristol are concerned about the impacts of climate change. Bristol’s One City Climate Strategy aims to make the city carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030.  

The council has invested nearly £100 million in decarbonisation projects over the last five years but we need to rapidly increase the scale and pace of low carbon delivery in order to meet our targets. We see Bristol City Leap as one of the primary vehicles for delivering projects that will tackle climate change and help improvements in air quality in the city.   

What will Bristol City Leap deliver? 

As part of its winning bid to become Bristol City Council’s Strategic Partner for Bristol City Leap, Ameresco has contractually committed to the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) over the next five years: 

  • c140,000 tonnes of carbon saving. 
  • c.180MW of zero-carbon generation assets contributing to net zero carbon by 2030. 
  • c327GWh of zero carbon energy generated. 
  • c£22m of energy efficiency measures deployed. 
  • £61.5m of social value including c£50m of contracts delivered by local supply chain. 

To deliver on these commitments, Ameresco estimated that Bristol City Leap would need to invest £424m into low carbon energy infrastructure such as solar, wind, heat networks, heat pumps and energy efficiency measures – all of which will support Bristol meeting its carbon reduction ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. 

In addition, Ameresco has also committed to the following:  

  • A guaranteed £1.5m Community Energy Development Fund and a guaranteed £500k. Innovation fund over the first five years of the partnership.  
  • Development of a Community Benefit Fund expected to reach £2.8m during the 20 year partnership period.  
  • £2.34m of guaranteed payments and an estimated £1.63m of risk-based payments to BCC, the latter being dependent on the level of delivery by City Leap.  
  • An estimated £6m+ crowdfunding opportunities for residents to invest in City Leap projects.  
  • 410 new jobs created in Bristol and 1,000 jobs in total, all paying at least the ‘Real Living Wage’.  
  • Apprenticeships, training, work placements, mentoring and awareness opportunities. 

Strategic Goals for the Initial Business Plan By 2025:  

  • Achieving carbon neutrality of BCC’s operational estate.  
  • Supporting the development of a highly skilled local supply chain.  
  • Delivering consistently high level of decarbonisation projects to help drive down installation costs.  
  • Becoming first choice decarbonisation partner for all sectors in Bristol.  

Within five years:  

  • Developing a local energy trading market for all to participate fairly in.  
  • Demonstrating a successful, world-renowned partnership approach for city-scale decarbonisation.  

By 2030:  

  • Achieving EPC rating ‘C’ or better for all the Council’s social housing.  
  • Significantly contribute to Bristol becoming carbon neutral.  
  • Supporting significant reductions in cases of fuel poverty and unhealthy homes. 


Bristol City Leap is an innovative, world-first partnership and we have learned a great deal during its development. We are keen to collaborate and share our model with other cities across the UK and internationally to enable much wider decarbonisation. 


Useful links: 

More information on Bristol City Leap can be found at: and Bristol City Leap’s five year business plan can be found at: Summary of Initial Business Plan  



Get the latest news delivered to your inbox