Glasgow: The Green City

How energy efficiency is benefiting Glasgow.

The city of Glasgow has been ranked as one of the greenest cities in the world for promoting sustainable growth in meetings and events, based on results by the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-index).

The index is a collaborative business initiative created to assist destinations drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of environmentally responsible practices in the business tourism and events industry. The results of making these environmentally conscious efforts have included attracting many large sustainability events which has helped bring in a combined £24 million for the top 5 cities in the index.

The award has shown Glasgow is heading in the right direction to meet its aspirations of becoming one of Europe’s most sustainable cities by 2020.

Aileen Crawford, of the Glasgow Convention Bureau, explained that “Glasgow is at the forefront of developments in the energy, sustainability and low carbon industries and in turn, this has had a hugely positive impact on the volume of conferences we’re attracting in these sectors.”

The city was also recognised as the most improved among the participating destinations, which has been helped, in part, by the introduction of its ‘People Make Glasgow Greener’ campaign.

While Glasgow is making strides in moving its economy toward the green side, it is also investing a lot of time and money into improving aspects for its residents.

Recently awarded an EU grant of €4.1 million, Glasgow City Council are able to pump money into developing sustainable solutions to tackling current issues the city faces, including fuel poverty, ageing infrastructure and the current poor air quality.

The grant, part of the EU Horizon 2020 programme, will be used to develop applications such as ‘intelligent energy management systems’. These systems will allow some buildings within the new smart street district the ability to share energy between themselves. On top of this, efficient heat networks, energy storage installations and energy efficient improvements for locals, are all initiatives that have been developed to improve the city’s, and thus the wider country’s, clean energy ambitions.

Glasgow’s ambitions of becoming a leading sustainable city mirrors those of the nation it belongs to.

Scotland is said to be leading the way among the European nations in moving away from fossil fuels to become fully reliant on renewable energy in the next couple of years.

The Scottish Government is keen to offer support for its people through a range of schemes set up through the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes (HEEPS). These programmes can help residents cut their energy costs with discounted energy rates, and allow them free or subsidised insulation or boilers, if they qualify. Currently, 8 out of 10 of those who have qualified have received completely free energy efficiency measures.

The programmes are available to homes within the private housing sector, as part of an overall target of improving the sector’s energy efficiency. Scottish Labour recently called upon the Scottish Government to introduce even tougher targets to continue to fight to make the sector as energy efficient as possible.

The measures that have been mentioned include introducing higher minimum energy efficiency ratings for homes, much like the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards being introduced south of

the border in April 2018. These targets would ensure that all private sector properties reach an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least a C by 2025. Currently, government proposals would only require properties in Glasgow to have an EPC rating of D.

Improving homes’ energy efficiency would help tackle the nation’s increasing energy costs and poorly insulated homes which have been said to be the cause of a third of those living in the private rented sector being in fuel poverty.

While this might be the case, figures released this week have shown that the overall level of fuel poverty amongst Scottish households has decreased by 4% over the last year. This is equivalent to nearly 100,000 households. Also, the number of the most energy efficient homes increased from 24% in 2010 to 43% last year, and in that same period, the number of properties in the lowest bands have gone from 27% to 14%.

There is clearly still a lot of work to be done – the Scottish Housing Conditions Survey showed that around 39,000 properties are in conditions deemed to be “below tolerable standards” – yet it’s clear that the initiatives that are being put into practice are working for the country. Not only are the tangible results and recognition coming from these schemes positive, but they put Scotland well on its way to reaching its future climate targets, with the help of its outstanding cities.

Translated from Gaelic as ’dear green place’, it’s good to see Glasgow putting a modern twist on reliving up to its name.

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