APSE’s first strategic forum of the New Year took place last night on the theme of energy efficiency in asset management. Guest speaker was David Kilduff, Head of the Commercial Group at Walker Morris Solicitors, who gave an overview of the issues facing local government in this area.
These events are used as an opportunity to develop policy and share knowledge.
David spoke about the opportunity to examine the corporate assets of the council to identify environmental and actual financial savings through better utilisation of property, procurement and behavioural change. Energy price inflation and energy security are also significant headaches for local authorities.
Prior to Christmas Local Government Minister Eric Pickles touched on the potential savings from better management of local government’s £250B property portfolio, suggesting that £7B savings could be achieved from reduced property use and £8B from enhanced productivity through better space utilisation.
David identified that you need political leadership with a vision for the area, you need sound advice in developing your strategy, a business plan of what you aim to achieve and the implementation skills to deliver. You also need to audit what natural resources and assets you have in your locality. In a time of austerity it’s an opportunity to make an economic case for growth not just an environmental case for change.
A wide ranging discussion took place around using pensions funds to invest in the green agenda, whether recent announcements on feed in tariffs represented a shift in government policy from renewables to energy efficiency, whether it was practical to take a cross public sector approach in this area, lack of public awareness of green deal and how you go about rebalancing property portfolios when your estate is heavily occupied at present.
The meeting closed with agreement that as legislation bites and belts tighten this will become an area of ever increasing importance for local government.