Warrington Borough Council has just (December 2023) released its Local Plan. This Local Plan sets out the development strategy for the borough for the next 15 years. We’ve reviewed the document to see how it will impact local businesses. Warrington businesses can also use the plan to get ahead of the curve, cut energy use and save money. Read on to find out how.
Table of Contents
- What is the Warrington Local Plan
- Renewable Energy In Warrington
- Cost Reduction Through Reduced Consumption
- Greener Buildings & Property Values
What is the Warrington Local Plan
The council has published the Warrington Local Plan to create a development strategy for the borough. It will be used in the determination of planning applications up to 2038. It has several key objectives around the development of Warrington, including:
- Economic Growth
- Community Facilities
Sustainable growth, is at the heart of the plan. Balancing the construction of new houses and the creation of new businesses, needs to be accompanied with upgrades to the local infrastructure.
Energy efficiency will also have its part to play in delivering sustainable growth in Warrington. This is where your Commercial EPC in Warrington can help identify areas to reduce energy usage and save money.
Our town is situated between Manchester and Liverpool, two of the Norths major cities, and with easy access to the M6, M56 and M62. The Local Plan also aims to enhance Warrington’s positions as a Business Hub, with particular focus on the Engineering, Logistics and Green Technology sectors.
The borough is home to unique heritage sites, waterways and green spaces. The plan commits the council to not only to protect these, but also enhance them. The vision for Warrington’s future is one of a sustainable, economically vibrant community that is inclusive and offers a high quality of life for its residents.
Renewable Energy In Warrington
The Warrington Local Plan highlights the need to reduce carbon through the use of renewable sources of energy. For your average local business or household, this means incorporating technologies like air source heat pumps, solar PV panels, solar water heating or wind turbines.
Self generation of electricity, like solar PV panels and wind turbines are generally specified on a development to meet a large proportion of the energy needs of the building. At times, these systems can generate excess energy which can be either sold back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) or stored on premises for later use. Having a system like this always results in a better EPC score and lower energy bills.
Businesses can use these technologies to stabilise rising energy costs, in turn stabilising production costs. If a business decides to couple their renewable energy system with battery storage, this will add a layer of resilience and reduce dependency on national infrastructure.
Also contained within the plan is a commitment to district energy systems. This is where energy is distributed from a centralised plant to the homes and businesses surrounding it. This could be a small solar farm that produces green electricity for its neighbours. It could also mean having a plant room with a very efficient, large boiler that delivers heating and hot water. There is a system called Combined Heat And Power (CHP) which the borough seems to favour. CHP is usually a type of engine that creates electricity. During the process of creating electricity the heat that is produced is then captured for use in a hot water and heating system.
The long term goal for these district energy systems is to combine them to form a decentralised network. This network will provide redundancy to businesses and home owners and enable the integration of greener technologies as they become available.
Cost Reduction Through Reduced Consumption
A welcome by product of using less energy and creating less emissions is a direct reduction in heating and electricity bills.
New commercial buildings are mandated by building regulations to have energy saving technologies as part of the construction. The owner of an existing commercial building can apply these same principles to reduce the operating costs of their building.
The main areas of focus for reducing cost in any building are
- Windows & Doors
- Heating & Ventilation
If you already have an EPC on your building you will have a set of recommendations specific to it. You can use these to identify the areas that will have the greatest impact on reducing energy usage.
For buildings that do not have an EPC, start by understanding the levels of insulation your building has. Ideally you need to have floor, wall and loft insulation to prevent excess wasted energy. Lots of energy can escape through old windows. When completing EPCs we see very few single glazed windows, but in commercial premises there are still a lot yet to be upgraded. Once the fabric of your building has been upgraded, move on to your internal services.
Low energy lighting, like LEDs can make a big difference to your bills, especially in a commercial environment. Traditional high pressure mercury or sodium lamps for large commercial spaces pull 250W, if these were replaced with LED, a 50W bulb should be more than enough to provide the same level of light, a fifth of the power and an 80% reduction in your lighting costs.
There are too many different types of heating and ventilation to list them all. We see many businesses still operating on 30 year old boilers with an efficiency of 70%. Modern gas boilers can provide efficiencies close to 100%. Upgrading a gas heating system to an electric system would use less energy still, but to save money, this needs to be at least four times more efficient because electric is around four times more expensive than gas per kWh. Some air source heat pumps provide greater than 400% efficiency. Most hover around the 400% mark. Consult with a MCS Certified professional to make sure your system is specified correctly and will perform as you need it to.
Something that I think is missing from Warrington’s Local Plan is Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). These systems help a business intelligently use energy by using an array of sensors to collect information from across the building and its services. A system of this type can have a huge impact on the amount of energy a business wastes translating into a direct cost saving.
Greener Buildings & Property Values
There is an opportunity for commercial building owners to improve their EPC scores and have their investment rise in value. Buildings that fall in to the scope of the Warrington Local Plan will be highly efficient and will command high resale prices as well as rents.
Research has shown there is a direct link between increased efficiency and property values. The UK Green Building Council has identified that greener buildings could be valued between a 6-11% premium above market rate. This is due to the decreased running costs of these buildings.
We’ve seen a trend in lenders requesting EPCs and even enforcing their own minimum standards when making lending decisions. A growing number of lenders are also offering discounted rates for green buildings through green mortgages. The construction and financing sectors are on a definite path towards buildings with lower emissions.
The Warrington Local Plan will determine what the future of Warrington will look like through development of the area and the infrastructure upgrades that this will bring. New buildings will have energy efficiency measures ‘baked in’, but local business owners and home owners can apply these principles to their own buildings to reduce operating costs, wasted energy and improve the town for all its residents. This will translate to higher values attached to their buildings with an opportunity to access cheaper financing.