Case Studies

Warmer Worcestershire

For over a decade we have been part of the Warmer Worcestershire partnership of public and third sector organisations working towards a shared goal of improving the energy efficiency of homes in the county and helping residents save money on their fuel bills.

We were a leading member from the partnership’s inception when a thermal image survey was carried out to highlight heat loss from the roof of properties. Since then the partnership has been successful at levering maximum funding for a range of energy efficiency and fuel poverty initiatives by developing schemes of a large enough size to attract investment.

Low income households have benefitted from grants for a range of measures including replacement boilers, new heating systems, loft and cavity wall insulation, and external wall insulation.

Several thousand Wychavon residents have benefitted from the energy support available to all households that has included a specialist helpline offering advice on keeping warm and ways to reduce energy use, help with reading and understanding fuel bills and switching energy supplier, and referrals for free or discounted energy saving measures such as insulation.

Ground breaking study

We led a ground breaking and innovative study looking at heat use across Worcestershire and how various methods could be used to meet demand more sustainably. The publication of the report in January 2017 generated extensive media coverage on BBC local radio and a piece on Farming Today.

The study, funded by the Government’s Heat Network Delivery Unit (HNDU) and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, had a particular focus on public sector buildings and large scale business use, but could also be used for housing.

The results indicate real opportunities to develop heat networks throughout the county and further feasibility work is likely in key sites including Worcester, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Kidderminster.

A key part of the study focused on geothermal heat in the south of the county, and in particular how this might support growers in the Vale of Evesham, in particular Offenham. The village is home to several important horticultural companies who all use a substantial amount of heat to grow fruit and vegetables supplying national supermarkets and wholesalers.

The findings indicate real potential in harnessing this sustainable and natural source of heat, which was first understood when boreholes were drilled in the 1980s. Worcestershire County Council commissioned a further study, in line with the report’s recommendations, to assess geological data in the Worcester Basin, an area that stretches from the Malverns to the Cotswolds.

This study has reinforced the belief that there is a real opportunity below our feet in parts of the Wychavon district.

A further HNDU application for a full feasibility study is likely to be made by the county council in the near future, looking specifically at the geothermal possibilities on the edge of Worcester and also Offenham, to build on the previous work.

Flushed with savings

As part of a major refurbishment programme we have installed a series of intelligently green measures in our award-winning public toilets.

The measures include propel air flush toilets, sensor activated urinal flushes, sensor activated LED lighting and Dyson Airblade tap/dryers. These will result in significant reductions in energy and water consumption and estimated cost savings of up to 90% on lighting and 60% on overall costs.

We have also installed solar panels on seven of our toilet blocks at a total cost of £52,000. These are expected to generate a total estimated 20,790KWh of electricity a year with estimated payback times of between 12 and 19 years.

The refurbished facilities have been well received by users and recognised in the national Loo of the Year Awards, run by the British Toilet Association. Three of our toilets scooped the new diamond award and the rest received platinum status.

Boosting electric vehicle charging

The number of electric vehicle charging points in Wychavon’s public car parks soared at the start of 2020 thanks to our £150,000 investment.

We installed a total of 20 new 7kW chargers as part of our commitment to supporting the growth of the ultra low emission vehicle market, to help reduce the district’s carbon footprint.

The new charging points are located in car parks in Broadway, Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore and take the total number of electric vehicle chargers in our public car parks to 24.

The project was part funded by a grant of £64,000 from the Government’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles and was supported by the Energy Saving Trust. We are also investing in a new all electric vehicle for staff to use while on council business, as a replacement for the hybrid vehicle we bought back in 2012.

Cllr Emma Stokes, Wychavon Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “We have already seen the number of ultra low emission vehicles on Wychavon’s roads increase by more than 500% since 2011 and it will continue to increase over the coming years. This investment will help ensure we are playing our part in supporting the growth of the electric vehicle market and, along with all our other low carbon initiatives, contribute to our ambition to reduce the district’s carbon footprint.”

We are using our influence to increase the provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The adopted South Worcestershire Development Plan includes a policy encouraging transport projects and development that promotes the use of new vehicle technology.

Our Community Legacy Grant scheme requires applications for new community buildings, or significant refurbishments of community buildings that include car parking facilities, to incorporate provision of one or more publicly accessible electric vehicle charging points.

Places for pollinators

Pollinating insects are in severe decline in Britain, so we’re working to create vital habitats in our parks and green spaces filled with plants and flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen.

In 2019, we became one of the beneficiaries of the ‘Places for Pollinators’ campaign following the planting of a new demonstration garden at the Civic Centre. The garden is one of ten Places for Pollinators that West Midlands Butterfly Conservation is helping to create in the region. The garden contains a selection of plants like bugle, red valerian, sweet rocket, phlox, scabious, cranesbill and buddleia, which are very attractive to many species of insect.

We have also created pollinator areas in Droitwich Community Woods, Addyes Way Open Space, Rebekah Gardens, Vines Park and in St Peter’s Fields, with others to follow in Evesham, Pershore and surrounding villages. We are experimenting with various pollinator seed mixes including wildflowers such as ox-eye daisy, white clover, buttercup, cranesbill, selfheal, vetch, yarrow and yellow rattle.

With pollinating insects in serious decline, we hope projects like these will inspire people to create habitats in their gardens or at work places that are filled with plants and flowers rich in nectar and pollen. Doing this in an area like the Vale of Evesham is particularly important, given its reliance on insects to pollinate the plants that provide much of the food grown here.

Revolutionising rubbish

In 2019, we took part in technical field trials for a revolutionary energy solution that gives households the power of generating hot water from everyday items such as coffee cups, nappies, plastics and food that were previously discarded as waste.

Developed in Wychavon, the Home Energy Resources Unit (HERU) has been hailed by the BBC as potentially ‘The Next Dyson’. The dishwasher-sized appliance enables a household to become a micro energy generation centre, producing hot water and gas that can be used in a domestic boiler and reducing household fuel bills by up to 15%. A single cycle of the HERU can produce a 30°C temperature rise for around 70 to 120 litres of water a day, which is equivalent to a full bath.

During our trial, waste from the Civic Centre café was disposed of directly into the appliance rather than going to landfill. Our involvement helped develop proof of concept and provided a raft of data to help support the HERU on its journey to market.

The HERU is one of a number of projects in the district to benefit from Worcestershire’s Low Carbon Opportunities Programme. The programme supported the development of the HERU with free consultancy support and a £42,000 grant. The grant helped fund the manufacture and build of the units to be used in the trial phase and the costs of the trial itself.

Appendix one

Data sources

Carbon capture toolkit

Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2019.
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Licensed vehicles by body type and local authority: United Kingdom.
Department for Transport.

Licensed ultra low emission vehicles by local authority: United Kingdom.
Department for Transport.

Renewable electricity by local authority.  
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

South Worcestershire Development Plan.  
Adopted and published 25 February 2016.

Sub-national total final energy consumption in the United Kingdom (2005-2017).  
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 

Sub-regional fuel poverty, 2018 data.  
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

UK local authority carbon dioxide emissions estimates within the scope of influence of local authorities 2005-2017.  Subset dataset.  Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan 2018-2027.

Worcestershire Energy Strategy.
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Wychavon greenhouse gas emissions calculated in accordance with Environmental reporting guidelines: including Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting requirementsDepartment for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.