CARMARTHENSHIRE Council is constructing schools and houses which need little gas or electricity to power them, but it also has less environmentally-friendly buildings on its books.
The climate-conscious authority has six buildings heated by kerosene: three primary schools, a depot, outdoor education centre and former registry office, some of which are topped up with other liquid fuels.
Although these six account for less than one per cent of the carbon emissions generated by the council’s non-domestic buildings, a further 7% of emissions are produced by its oil-heated buildings.
Gas and electricity power the vast majority of its schools, care homes and leisure centres, and account for the vast majority of its carbon emissions from buildings.
It’s not unusual for rural councils to have buildings which don’t have a mains gas supply, but emissions are a key focus for Carmarthenshire after it approved an action plan to make the authority net carbon zero by 2030.
Cllr Hazel Evans, executive board member for environment, said: “We are actively seeking to replace existing fossil-fuelled systems with lower or zero carbon alternatives as appropriate to each site’s characteristics, for example building fabric.”
The council has been using grants and interest-free loans to green its portfolio of buildings by 38% over the last 15 years, with some of the improvement also the result of a more low-carbon electricity supply.
One Welsh Government-funded project under way is targeting 30 sites, including Carmarthen Leisure Centre – the council’s highest carbon-emitting building.
The authority said it will develop a carbon reduction target for non-domestic buildings by March next year.
Measures to reduce fleet mileage, business mileage and the energy used by street lights are also being developed.
The council said it was the first in Wales to build a new school – at Burry Port – to Passivhaus standard, which means it hardly loses any heat.
The authority said this is being replicated in a number of other new-build projects, although it will have to pay the extra construction costs for new Passivhaus-standard schools under the current Welsh Government school-building programme.
The Energy Saving Trust said mains gas was usually the cheapest way to heat a property and had the lowest carbon emissions, apart from wood.