Hackney has been named one of the most energy efficient councils out of the UK’s urban areas, according to a study released this week.
The study asked what was the ‘best’ way to measure urban energy efficiency across 198 UK urban authorities, and determined that the London borough of Barking and Dagenham topped the league, followed by Hackney in second place.
Dr. James Keirstead, a lecturer in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Imperial College, carried out the study to allow urban council authorities to understand their green ranking, and consequently take appropriate action.
ELL boroughs, Croydon, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, ranked 28, 59 and 122 respectively for their overall energy efficiency.
However, one factor contributing to Hackney’s high efficiency label could be that the borough is deemed a low-income authority. Keirstead said that less income may be spent on energy services, and large energy suppliers can be obliged to improve energy efficiency for low income or vulnerable households.
Hackney’s median household income is £22,200, whilst Kensington and Chelsea had a household income median of £34,000 and was deemed to be one of the least efficient authorities.
Another explanation for Hackney’s efficiency could be due to residents not owning cars and relying on public transport.
Government statistics show Hackney’s fuel poverty is ranked at 307 out of the 329 of fuel-poor English local authorities.
Keirstead said his research was motivated by the usual “naïve” urban performance league tables, which only use measurements of overall energy consumed in an authority.
He added: “[The league tables] can be unfair, however, to cities that happen to have a different climate, or perform industrial activities of national importance.”
Instead, Keirstead’s nuanced study used different ratio measurements of urban energy efficiency to create an average. His study also showed that a comparison of similar areas, as with all London boroughs, is a more accurate method towards helping local authorities “understand why one council might be ranked higher”.
When asked whether Hackney Council’s grand regeneration plans would affect the borough’s energy efficiency, Keirstead replied: “It could improve it.”
“The regeneration process means more money will come into the borough and could be used to make old buildings more energy efficient.”
Keirstead added that being conscious of energy efficiency is important for the UK: “The UK has very ambitious targets to reduce climate change and make energy systems fit for purpose, which requires the transformation of power stations.”
He explained that on a local level, “we need to improve energy efficiency for businesses, homes and transport”.