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What are we doing?

What are we doing?

Environmental, Green and Sustainable Group (Ongoing)

The Environmental, Green and Sustainable (EGS) Group is a city-wide low carbon youth forum that is run with and for Sunderland's children and young people. This group aims to empower young people through discussing the climate crisis, low carbon and action being taken in Sunderland. After each group meeting, EGS representatives meet with the city's senior leaders at the 2030 Shadow Board meetings to contribute to low carbon discussions and decisions. Young people of all ages take part, including representatives from a mix of Sunderland schools, youth group settings, Sunderland College, and the University of Sunderland.  

So far, the EGS Group have had four group meetings and sent several EGS representatives to the 2030 Shadow Board meetings. The EGS chose their own group name, voted on the city-wide hashtag #WearSustainable and have explored numerous topics of interest such local growing projects, sustainable transport, nature, and greenspaces in Sunderland. Our group members share what projects they have been working on, take part in regular consultations and highlight important matters along with others at the 2030 Shadow Board. 

CLIMATE Project with Essen (Completed in June 2022) 

Sunderland City Council has (in partnership with German twin town Essen) secured funding from North Rhine Westphalia and Stadt Essen and financially supported the 'Citizens' Low Carbon Innovation for Mutual Action in Twin CitiEs' (CLIMATE) project. This brought together groups of young people from Sunderland College (students in Travel and Tourism as well as Green Ambassadors) to work with counterparts in Essen's Theodore Heuss Gymnasium. 

Early work was delivered online, including joint virtual sessions of both groups of learners, a webinar and joint project work. The project was completed in June 2022 with a visit of the Sunderland group, travelling sustainably overland, to Germany. Whilst in Essen they spent time working with their German partners, including meeting with the European Green Capital Agency, a reception at the Town Hall, visiting the THG school, exploring local sustainable sites in Essen including an energy exhibition, and joint student-led project work. 

Engagement Events (August 2022)  

In August, children and families across Sunderland got involved in activities at Together for Children's Health and Happiness Week. The Low Carbon team shared information about Refill Sunderland and actions that can be taken to reduce carbon emissions. It was great to see over 148 climate promises on our pledge wall, including; driving less, using less gas and electricity as well as recycling more.

Tree Planting (In progress)

Almost 80,000 trees have been planted across the North East in five months to help tackle the climate crisis, wildlife loss and bring people closer to nature. A total of 62.16 hectares of land were covered by the North East Community Forest during the 2021/22 planting season - well exceeding the initial target of 25ha. The 79,503 new trees, 16 hectares of open space and 3,215 linear metres of hedgerows will capture 19,282 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is part of the North East Community Forest's long-term goal to increase canopy cover across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and parts of County Durham by 2050. When fully planted, the trees, woodlands and hedgerows are expected to capture 155,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from the energy needs of 30,000 homes in a year.  

Elemore Park is the site of a former municipal golf course which closed in 2019. It is being transformed into a country park and wildlife area, together with community-led facilities including a café and garden centre. It is located at Easington Lane, Hetton-le-Hole, Sunderland, and close to the County Durham boundary. As part of the overall redevelopment, Trees for Climate funding has enabled more than 15,000 tree and shrub plants to be planted, providing wooded areas and greenspace across nearly seven hectares of land. Key features include:  

• 4.5 hectares of new woodland (which includes a 1.36km length of new hedgerow)  

• Wildflower seeding throughout the woodland and new greenspace. 

Once complete, the 'Elemore Green Space and Social Enterprise Development' - led by the Elemore Park project - will be home to social enterprises developing training opportunities, including a café and a garden centre, a visitor and exhibition centre highlighting the local area history, together with wildlife and woodland for people to enjoy. 

Refill Sunderland (Ongoing)  

As part of Sunderland's work to reduce Consumption and Waste - and save residents and businesses money, the Council launched a Refill scheme for Sunderland on 16th June 2022 for World Refill Day. This will help the city to reduce single use plastic waste by working with Not-for-Profit organisation 'City to Sea' who lead the Refill campaign. 

Refill provides a platform to connect residents and their communities to places they can eat, drink and shop without single-use plastic packaging. The free Refill app has been downloaded by over 350,000 people globally and Sunderland is the latest scheme to join the campaign. 104 Refill stations were already registered within the city at launch, and there are now over 100 Refill stations across the city. Refill Sunderland will provide a platform for new stations to register and will help promote them. 

To see where the stations are located download the Refill app.  

If you would like to register as a refill station click here.

Better Points (Ongoing)

BetterPoints is a FREE to use award-winning behaviour change platform targeting modal shift to active and sustainable travel. The app tracks your travel movements via GPS using your smartphone and rewards you with points for using more sustainable modes of transport like walking, cycling and using public transport. 

Points can then be exchanged for rewards such as discounts in local shops, free coffees, vouchers or charity donations. 

The campaign in Sunderland will run from March - October 2022 (and hopefully beyond that subject to additional funding) and will see points awarded, to anyone aged 14 or over, for active or sustainable journeys made around Sunderland, Washington, Hetton & Houghton. 

Better Points currently has 687 users who have made over 740,000 sustainable journeys in Sunderland, travelling 136,700 miles and saving almost 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Active travel can include walking, cycling, running, or using an e-bike, while using public transport like the bus, metro or train counts as sustainable travel. 

Rewards are in the form of BetterPoints (digital currency), BetterTickets (prize draw entries) or direct vouchers and prizes. BetterPoints can be redeemed for a wide choice of vouchers in our catalogue of high street and local retailers, coffee shops, sports venues and cinemas. BetterTickets prize draws are daily, weekly or monthly, to win BetterPoints or sponsored prizes. 

Local Companies taking part can either offer gift-vouchers, discounts or sponsor prize draws. 

Recent Prize Draws include: 

  • Zeta Electric Bike From Carlos Cycles 
  • Free Coffee`s in Brew & Bake 
  • £20 Sunderland Gift Cards 
  • £20 Nexus Pop Cards  
  • Everyone Active Gym Passes  
  • Group Bike Ride for 12 from SYPB 
  • Neuron E-Scooter Passes 
  • Bonus Points 

Commercial Energy Efficiency Projects 

BEST (ran until May 2022)  

Sunderland was part of the regional Business Energy Saving Team (BEST) which ran until March 2022. BEST was a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by local authorities in North East England. The BEST team provided businesses with a full energy audit, designed to help identify ways to save energy, money, and carbon emissions. If businesses met certain criteria the BEST team could also provide a grant to partially support the upfront costs of energy efficiency measures. As of the end of BEST programme in March 2022, Sunderland City Council led the regional performance table, with 21 approvals, 14 grants claimed, and a total project value of £130,000 invested in energy efficiency improvements saving 327 tonnes of carbon equivalent. Updated information for Sunderland businesses will be provided for the full project period shortly. 

BREEZ - Business Renewables Energy Efficiency Sunderland (Oct 2019 - June 2023)  

Sunderland City Council offers eligible SMEs a flexible approach to cutting their energy bills and their carbon emissions. The overall objective of BREEZ is to reduce energy consumption and enable carbon reduction in a compliant and cost-effective way. This is achieved by upgrading old, inefficient systems with new, energy-efficiency upgrades that have been approved and agreed prior to their installation.  BREEZ is a project which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 

Domestic Energy Efficiency Projects 

ECO3/Flex (Jan 2021 - April 2022) 

Sunderland City Council worked with approved contractors to insulate properties and upgrade old and inefficient heating systems. In total, 357 households have been assisted, with a total value of £704,987 for gas boiler upgrades and insulation measures. 

LAD2 project (Jan 2022 - Sep 2022)  

Through the LAD 2 project 225 low-income low-efficiency domestic properties have benefited from 455 energy efficiency measures to help cut energy bills and carbon emissions.  Following a 'Fabric First' whole house insulation approach, qualifying properties have also benefited from Low Carbon heat-pumps and / or solar roof panels.  Total cost £1,664,095. Improvements include:  

  • Solar Roof Panels  
  • Room in Roof (Attic) Insulation  
  • Top Up Loft Insulation to 300mm 
  • Cavity Wall Insulation 
  • Solid Wall Insulation  
  • Underfloor Insulation (Ground Floor only) 
  • Air Source Heat Pump (Low Carbon High Efficiency Heating) 
  • Heating Control upgrades  

Warm Homes Fund (July 2022 - July 2024)  

The Council, working in partnership with Groundwork North East and the Citizens Advice Bureau, have secured £1.2m of funding from National Grid Warm Homes Fund to replace old, inefficient electric storage heaters with Air Source Heat Pumps in 135 private sector, low-income homes.   

The Warm Homes Fund project also provides energy saving and income maximisation advice to homeowners and tenants of private landlords: 

  • the installation of affordable heating solutions in fuel poor households which don't use mains gas as their primary source of heat. 
  • activities to support people with health conditions living in fuel poor households, particularly in urban areas with a high Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) ranking and with high concentrations of fuel poverty. 

Social Housing Decarbonisation Project (April 2022 - March 2023)   

In partnership with Gentoo, the project will target decarbonisation upgrading works to over 500 social rented homes located across Sunderland. £2.4 million has been invested into the scheme, with half of the programme being funded through the government bid. 

 The worst properties in terms of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands are to be prioritised and works undertaken must result in achieving a minimum of EPC Band C rating. Measures include loft insulation, a combination of loft and window upgrades and fabric enhancements, such as external wall insulation and flat roof upgrades. The development of the project draws on comprehensive work which has been undertaken by Gentoo to review energy data across its housing stock as part of the ongoing development and delivery of its corporate strategy.  

In July 2022, as part of the Social Housing Decarbonisation fund, work has recently started to improve the energy efficiency of 21 properties in Whinfell, Albany. 

Heat Pump Ready (August 2022 - 2024)  

In partnership with Sunderland City Council, Utilita Energy has been awarded £193,000 by The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to establish if high density air and ground source heat pumps can be delivered at scale, with a particular focus on fuel poor and middle-income households. The Council and Utilita have been selected by the Government to deliver this ground-breaking feasibility study as part of the national 'Heat Pump Ready' programme which aims to help make heat pump technologies more accessible and affordable for all household types across Sunderland. A key aim for this project is to increase the accessibility of low carbon heat pumps by simplifying the buying and installation process for customers. 

Common Purpose Sunderland 60 (June 2022)  

Non-profit information Common Purpose, who work in over 200 cities globally, delivered the Sunderland 60 Legacy programme in June 2022. 

The Sunderland 60 Legacy project brought together 18-25 year olds from a range of employers and education providers across the city to take part in an international leadership programme. Their focus was learning and developing ideas on how to make Sunderland a cleaner, greener city for generations to come.  

Young people were invited to participate from organisations including Together for Children, Sunderland Care & Support, Gentoo, Sunderland College, the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council, many of whom sponsored the programme, alongside businesses Arctic Wolf and Ashmore Consultants. 

Over four days the participants received training and sessions from Common Purpose as well as experts in related fields locally. They then presented their own ideas to senior representatives on how they would recommend reducing carbon footprints and helping the city achieve its low carbon ambitions - these resulted in 6 strong proposals for Sunderland, which are now being considered. 

Two of the young people attended the city's next 2030 Shadow Board to share their experience and the proposed ideas they had developed with city leaders. 

The next meeting of the cohort is planned for September 2022. 

Covenant of Mayors (Ongoing) 

Having signed the European Covenant of Mayors in 2009 to commit the city to Carbon reduction targets, Sunderland was happy to be selected to participate in the programme's peer learning project. The European-funded programme brings cities together to learn from one another on climate and energy actions and to build long-term relationships. 

Sunderland was one of 11 cities (and one of 5 'expert' cities) from over 100 applications to be selected take part in the project which is coordinated by the EUROCITIES network of 200 members from 38 countries. The peer learning projects share research, experience and ways of working to a more sustainable future. 

In October 2021 Sunderland hosted an online 4-day event with colleagues from Vitoria Gastéiz in Spain and Parma in Italy to share learning and expertise. Topics discussed included transport, energy and green infrastructure. Sunderland led discussions on community and partner engagement, highlighting the city-wide cooperative approach, our joint 'Low Carbon Framework' and our ambitions for the whole city to be carbon neutral by 2040. 

Sunderland colleagues and elected representatives gave a number of presentations over the 4 days as well as taking part in joint sessions. The online 'visit' culminated in our European partners participating alongside young people's 'Environmental, Green, Sustainable (EGS) representatives in October's city-wide 2030 Low Carbon Shadow Board's meeting. 

Derwent Hill EV Points (Installed August 2022)  

4 EV charge points have been installed at Derwent Hill with a 7kW AC power supply.  

Local Climate Engagement (in progress)  

Following a successful bid and panel interview in early 2022, Sunderland City Council was awarded a place on the prestigious Local Climate Engagement (LCE) programme. It is a partnership between Involve, UK100, Democratic Society, Shared Future and Climate Outreach and works with local authorities to take forward public engagement projects on climate policy. LCE recognises the leadership councils are showing by setting Net Zero targets that are years ahead of national legislation, and sees the potential local authorities have for wider impact in their cities.  
Sunderland is one of just 5 authorities from the many tens who applied to be offered in-depth project support and was matched to international citizen democracy not-for-profit organisation, DemSoc to take the project forward.  

20 colleagues from different teams across Sunderland City Council and Together for Children are now receiving training from DemSoc and are designing a new programme of activity. Sunderland's project is focusing on public engagement around travel behaviours, including reducing carbon emissions from Home to School Transport for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Project participants will also consider ways of increasing public engagement on travel behaviours as we deliver the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and how that can affect the decisions taken.  
The planning meetings took place in spring-summer 2022 and 6 training sessions will be delivered from the autumn while the project design takes place in parallel. 

COP26 School Grants (Autumn 2021) 

In autumn 2021 Sunderland City Council launched and funded COP26 Sunderland school grants which saw 6 secondary schools and 2 primary schools design and deliver a range of carbon-cutting initiatives to get involved in COP26. Schools across the city were asked to submit applications to drive forward local environmental change, and as part of this grant these projects focused on those most likely to be impacted by climate change, the city's children and young people. 

Grants totalling £2,600 were awarded to teachers, children and young people from Albany Village Primary School, Broadway Junior School, Kepier Academy, Monkwearmouth Academy, Southmoor Academy, Sandhill View Academy, St. Aidan's Catholic Academy and Washington Academy. These schools delivered projects which included planting trees and developing school gardens, creating orchards, harvesting willow, improving recycling, litter picking and reducing single-use plastics as well as setting up school eco teams.

Food and Nutrition Chartermark (Ongoing)  

The Council's Public Health team, Low Carbon team, Change 4 Life team and school catering service are all collaborating in the design of a city-wide Food and Nutrition Charter mark. All schools and children's settings are eligible to apply and the Bronze level was rolled out in 2021. There is lots of focus on environmental sustainability including plant-based and planet-friendly diets, reducing waste and promoting seasonal eating among other initiatives. The first school was accredited in 2022 and teams are now working to develop the silver (2022/23) and gold (2023/24) levels - including with consultation and engagement from the young people's Environmental, Green and Sustainable (EGS) group). 

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