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Birmingham Green Property Scheme to save Council Millions

Birmingham Green Property Scheme to save Council Millions

Birmingham City Council’s initiative to save up to ┬ú100m on running costs, which includes replacing 55 old buildings with 8 efficient purpose-built offices, has been praised by the Government as an example for others to follow.

The plans to modernise Birmingham City Council offices – known as the Working for the Future scheme – has been highlighted and praised by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF), an independent group that informs the Government on issues and practices leading to a low-carbon economy.

The initiative falls under the Government’s plans to drive down running costs in the public sector. As part of this objective, Birmingham City Council expect to save ┬ú100m over 25 years by improving the sustainability of their buildings, incorporating a portfolio of 1.2m sq ft of office space, and cutting down on empty space.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles was made aware of Birmingham’s cost-cutting scheme during an inquiry by the WSBF, and alluded to the city as a prime example, commenting that it is possible to make substantial savings without cutting services.

“This timely report shows that every council could save millions by managing their properties better, using the money to protect frontline services or keep council tax down,” he said, according to The Birmingham Post.

Last year, the Lancaster Circus offices in Birmingham city centre underwent a full refurbishment to improve their performance and efficiency, which generated savings of £3.5 million a year in running costs and reduced carbon emissions by 40%.

Lancaster Circus – home to many departments including Transportation Strategy, Planning, Urban Design and Building Consultancy – was the first major refurbishment project of Working for the Future. The works included the installation of energy efficient windows, energy supply from a combined heat and power system, an energy efficient cooling system, and construction materials from sustainable sources.

Open-plan office space and multi-function meeting rooms were also created, and cellular offices were removed, which allowed for around 10,000 sq m of floor space to be reduced.

An inquiry by the WSBF found that councils could reduce their office space by almost one-third, which would save a reported £7 billion a year in running costs.

Cabinet member and former Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Coun Brew, said that the scheme is already “reaping rewards”, through a combination of new buildings, better work practices, and managing buildings more effectively.

He commented: “We are already seeing the rewards for rationalising our property and we are on track to save ┬ú100 million over the next 25 years. We saw this challenge of transforming our property as a great opportunity for Birmingham.

“Not only could we bring our office portfolio into the 21st century, we could also use it as a catalyst for culture change to bring in new working practices and improve the services we provide.

“Even those who were sceptical of our ambitious plans are being impressed by the results.”

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Author: | February 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

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