Carbon reduction

The council's Sustainable Development team takes the lead on carbon reduction from local authority operations including council offices and community buildings, schools, leisure centres, transport and street lighting.

In March 2019 the council declared a climate emergency. This commits the council to becoming Net Zero Carbon by 2025. The council is currently working on a plan to achieve this target. This plan will look at the following areas:

  • renewable technologies
  • improving the energy efficiency of the council’s buildings
  • reduce emissions from transport
  • waste
  • procurement.

Carbon reduction, local authority operations

The council is required to report on greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on an annual basis.

Past and current annual reports are available to download

If you have any questions regarding these reports or about carbon reduction in Tower Hamlets or, have any ideas about how we could stop energy wastage in your local school or community centre, please contact:

David Esdaile
Tel: 020 7364 6649

T.H.E Community Power

As fuel prices rise, T.H.E Community Power, the council’s energy co-operative, could help save money on your gas and electricity bill by securing a cheaper energy deal. If you would like to know more about the scheme, please visit the T.H.E Community Power page or contact:

Abdul Monnan
Freephone: 0800 50 88 364 

Carbon reductions planning advice

The council requires all developments to achieve the highest standards of design and construction to improve the environmental performance of developments and to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Development proposals should demonstrate that sustainable design standards are integral to the proposal, including its construction and operation and ensure that they are considered at the beginning of the design process.

CO2 reduction planning policy requirements

At a national level, the National Planning Policy Framework sets out that planning plays a key role in delivering reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to climate change. Policy D.ES7 of the Local Plan requires all major development proposal to submit a detailed energy assessment. The purpose of an energy assessment is to demonstrate that climate change mitigation measures are integral to the scheme’s design and evolution, and set out how the scheme will achieve Net Zero Carbon.

Policy D.ES7 in the Local Plan sets out for all development to be Net Zero Carbon and identifies that this should be achieved through a minimum reduction in on-site carbon dioxide emissions of 45 per cent, and the remaining carbon dioxide emissions (to 100 per cent), to be off-set through a cash in lieu contribution.

Policy SI2 of the emerging London Plan requires major development to be net zero-carbon. This means reducing carbon dioxide emissions from construction and operation, and minimising both annual and peak energy demand in accordance with the following energy hierarchy:

  • use less energy (Be Lean)
  • supply Energy Efficiently (Be Clean) and
  • use Renewable Energy (Be Green).

The energy strategy should set out how the scheme will be net zero carbon on-site in 2050 as required by the Climate Change Act 2008 (as amended) and Emerging London Plan Policy SI2. London Plan policy SI2 requirements for Energy Strategies include the requirement to provide details of:

  • proposals for how energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions post-construction will be monitored annually (for at least five years).
  • proposals explaining how the site has been future-proofed to achieve zero-carbon on-site emissions by 2050.
  • analysis of the expected cost to occupants associated with the proposed energy strategy.


Local Plan policy D.ES7 states:

  • all new non-residential development over 500 square metres floorspace (gross) are expected to meet or exceed BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating
  • all major non-residential refurbishment of existing buildings and conversions over 500 square metres floorspace (gross) must meet at least BREEAM non-domestic refurbishment ‘excellent’ rating.

Carbon factors

To ensure an uptodate representation of the schemes anticipated CO2 emissions,  the council and the GLA encourage the use of updated (SAP 10) carbon emission factors to assess the expected carbon performance of a new development.

Guidance from the GLA is for applicants to continue to use the current Building Regulations methodology for estimating energy performance against Part L 2013 requirements but with the outputs manually converted for the SAP 10 emission factors.

It should be noted that the use of the SAP 10 emission factors in this context is for demonstrating performance against planning policy targets and, as such, is separate to Building Regulation compliance.

Applications should therefore ensure that compliance with Building Regulations is maintained. The GLA have published a spreadsheet (version 1.1) to aid with the assessment of SAP10 which should be submitted alongside an energy assessment

The scope and content of the Energy Strategy must follow the GLA Energy Assessment guidance. Details on this are available on their website.

Carbon offsetting

Threshold and contribution requirements

Planning obligations relating to energy will be sought for:

  • residential developments of 10 units or more, or with a combined gross floorspace of 1,000 sqm (gross internal area) or more; and,
  • all major non-residential development.

CO2 reduction

Where officers consider all opportunities to meet the relevant carbon reduction targets have been exhausted on-site, contributions to a carbon offsetting fund will be sought to meet the shortfall.

Formula – Carbon offsetting

Carbon offset contribution =

Carbon Gap (Tonnes of CO2) x Price of Carbon (£) x 30 (Years)

‘Carbon Gap’ is the amount of regulated carbon emissions that remain following the integration of energy efficiency measures, clean energy systems and renewable energy technologies to a design, which goes beyond that required by Part L of the Building Regulations. The Carbon Gap refers to all residual emissions.

At present the carbon off-set price is £95 per tonne for all residual emissions. This is due to:

  • All schemes since the adoption of our local plan and publication of GLA energy assessment guidance (April 2020) we have sought the higher figure carbon offsetting figure of £95 per tonne in accordance with GLA recommendations.
  • Whilst the London Plan energy policies are in draft, the SoS did not propose any changes to the energy-related policies: SI 2, 3 and 4. The increased carbon offsetting figure has been given greater weight since the London Plan Examination in Public: Panel Report was published in October 2019.   
  • The £95 per tonne figure has been in the GLA energy assessment guidance since October 2018. This is the same time that SAP10 was first introduced in to the assessment methodology. The two elements are linked to ensure carbon offsetting is deliverable as the £60 figure is too low using SAP10 carbon factors’

For further information please contact