Green Partnership Board

iLab 2: The Low Carbon Economy

Following on from our first Innovation Lab (iLab) which explored creating low carbon neighbourhoods, we held a second iLab on 17 July 2020 to look at building a low carbon economy in our borough.

The need for a thriving low carbon economy is important to urgently address the climate emergency, and in support of our economic recovery.  Hounslow’s Green Recovery can help support the wider recovery for Hounslow, particularly in terms of our economy which is predicted to be the second worst impacted London Borough.  If we consider just two measures: between February and April 2020, there has been a 27.4% increase in Hounslow residents receiving universal credit, and across West London 280,000 people have been furloughed.

Once again, this iLab was hugely interesting and a large range of ideas and discussions emerged. Here are some of the big ideas:

  • Making Hounslow a more welcoming place for businesses to develop green technology. We discussed creating a green industrial district which could create a landmark destination for green businesses to cluster in Hounslow. The Council could create incentives for the cluster, for example special planning arrangements to allow green infrastructure to be built easily when needed.
  • The importance of segmenting our approach to business. Most large international companies have green initiatives and have developed green expertise themselves. Can they share best practice with us? Can this information help small businesses and SMEs that don’t have the resources or capacity to develop this expertise?
  • Finding a company to deliver a zero-carbon service isn’t always easy. For example, where would we go for a zero-carbon cleaning company? Yet the transition for an existing cleaning company to go zero-carbon would be relatively straight forward, particularly if they’re given support. Could the Council identify a set of ‘easy win’ companies to support in their transition?
  • Skills came up a lot in our discussion, particularly in regard to retrofitting. The example was given of someone replacing a boiler in their home. It’s easy to find a CORGI registered gas installer, but much harder to find someone with the right skills to install an air source heat pump. Could the Council help reskill and accredit gas installers to install the green alternatives?
  • Following on from thinking about how we support the transition to zero-carbon by local businesses, we discussed hosting a ‘Dragon’s Den’ for Hounslow. Local businesses would be invited to pitch their low-carbon business proposals and the Council would pick its five favourites to support.
  • How do we maximise the potential of the government’s new retrofitting fund? In addition to communicating the opportunity of the new £5000 grants for the retrofitting of households, the Council could support local businesses to acquire the right skills and accreditation to carry this work out.
  • We heard about the work the Council is doing with the ‘London heat map’. The map allows hot areas in Hounslow to be identified which would benefit from energy saving measures or to spot opportunities for clusters of businesses to share energy centres. The Council’s full analysis on this is expected later this year.
  • How do we develop the circular economy? This is about creating an economic system which eliminates waste through reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling. A suggested starting point was Hounslow’s supply of plastics from the collection of waste plastics from homes and businesses. How do we make it easier for businesses to get hold of these plastics to make fully recycled material? What grants and subsidies could support this?
  • Going green is often seen as an expensive path for businesses. We need to highlight the savings that can be made. We heard about a tower block in Paris which was identified for demolition and set to cost £100m to knock down and rebuild. The original plan was scrapped when it was discovered that a retrofitting scheme would come in at a quarter of the price.
  • Despite the challenges thrown up by coronavirus, it’s clear that Heathrow will continue to be a significant part of the local economy. How does Hounslow capture and support the innovation taking place at the airport, such as green aviation? Are there things Heathrow has put on pause which Hounslow Council or businesses in Hounslow may be able to help restart?
  • We heard about the work the Council is doing to green its fleet of vehicles. About a third of the fleet can easily be moved over to electric vehicles. A hurdle is the limited network of charge points. What can the Council do to expand this network and support more businesses to make the transition to electric vehicles?
  • There was a lot of discussion about identify and utilising space for solar energy. Could the Council make solar a condition of suitable new planning applications?

Next steps

We will be meeting with residents via our Community Reference Groups on the 28 July. Members of this group will also help us refine and prioritise new ideas and solutions at our next session on low carbon neighbourhoods on the 5 August. We’ll go back to residents again, and in our final session on the 18th August we’ll set out our concrete projects for delivering low carbon neighbourhoods.

We'd also like to thank all the contributors to our second iLab:

Claudia Corrigan, London Councils; Peter Tilston, West London Waste; Tony Griffith, ?; Councillor Guy Lambert; Councillor Hanif Khan; Councillor Katherine Dunne; Councillor Samia Chaudhary.

We also like to thank the Council officers who made contributions from the following teams: Transport, Parking and Environmental Strategy; Procurement and contracts; Regeneration and economic development; Facilities, Fleet and Health and Safety; Public Health.

This work is being led by Victoria Lawson, Executive Director of Environment, Culture and Customer Services and Wayne Stephenson, Assistant Director of Environment and Culture. 

For any questions please email Victoria Lawson or Wayne Stephenson

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