British Gas has helped Durham County Council to cut back on its carbon emission and make huge savings on its energy bills by installing energy efficiency measures in four public buildings.

The upgrades are part of The Building Energy Efficiency Retrofit project. The current work carried out represents phase 1 of the project which will save the Council £151,530 a year and reduce its carbon emissions by approximately 787 tonnes.

The scheme, which will cost an estimated £1.3 million in total, has involved making comprehensive updates to Chester-le-Street Leisure Centre, the Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre, the Crook Civic Centre and the Stanley Indoor Bowles Centre.

“This has been an important project for the County Council,” said Ian Thompson, Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Development and chair of the Carbon Management Programme at Durham County Council. “The fact that it has brought about improvements at four well-used public buildings, also reduced carbon and made financial savings is certainly something to be proud of.”

The savings were made through a series of upgrades to the heating and lighting systems in each building. British Gas worked with Durham County Council to upgrade the lighting systems, making use of natural light wherever it’s available, drastically cutting back on the amount of electricity being used. Building management systems were also upgraded to reduce waste energy in all areas of the buildings and combined heat and power units were installed so that gas could be used to generate electricity and heat on site, significantly reducing the amount of electricity used.

To celebrate the success of the scheme, Olympic swimming gold medallist Duncan Goodhew visited the Chester-le-Street Leisure Centre, where work had been carried out, to meet the people involved and lead a special swimming session with a group of young people from the local area. “Modernised heating and ventilation means the pool here in Chester-le-Street is a nicer place for users and the council has a smaller energy bill, so everyone’s a winner,” said Goodhew. “I hope people in the area will take advantage of what’s been done by making use of the pool.”

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