Mayor sets out plan to save up to £1bn off Londoners’ energy bills

07 March 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has described how up to £1bn could be saved on energy bills by Londoners and businesses in the capital over the next four years. He set out the potential savings while announcing the winner of the inaugural Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize, at a ceremony at City Hall.

The £20,000 award, sponsored by Berkeley Group, was launched to inspire the next generation of students to come up with innovative ideas for cutting carbon emissions in the city.

Over 100 entries were whittled down to a shortlist of 10 that was judged by a panel including leading architect Sir Terry Farrell and Zac Goldsmith MP. The winning entry was submitted by Jonathan Pye-Finch from Kingston University who devised the idea of a "green key". Every year in London around 250,000 household moves are made and thousands of new businesses start up. The logic behind the “green key" is that when every move occurs the new residents or owner is supplied with an electronic key containing up to date information on local services and ideas to help them live more sustainably.

Three more students were also awarded prizes. Between them they came up with plans for a portable pyrolysis unit on a River Barge which would turn waste into energy, a plan to convert waste coffee grounds drunk in London into biofuel; and a process for manufacturing ultra thin photovoltaic cells which could be attached to materials such as glass to generate electricity. This material could potentially slash the carbon footprint of creating solar panels.

In a speech to the award winning students the Mayor set out how his environmental retrofit programmes are aiming to create an energy efficient city, stimulating jobs and reducing Londoners cash on their fuel bills. He described how retrofitting is part of a vision to make savings of £1.16bn on London’s energy bills by 2016 by increasing recycling, generating more of the capital’s energy locally and making more buildings and homes in the capital energy efficient.

A key part of the Mayor’s environment programme is retrofitting London through the RE:NEW homes programme, which has made over 50,000 homes more energy efficient through the installation of easy, hassle free measures such as radiator panels and standby switches. It is estimated RE:NEW will save in the region of £5million on those homes energy bills each year.

In addition the RE:FIT buildings programme, which is being used by schools, town halls, hospitals and other public sector buildings, has saved £2.3 million from the energy bills of 86 buildings to date, with another 425 forecast to be retrofitted in the next four years. As a result of these retrofitting initiatives and recycling targets, the Mayor has saved London £9m. The projects are now in a position to be ramped up to provide much greater savings for Londoners with the financial support of government and private finance.

The Mayor also announced that the Strand Palace Hotel, London’s sixth biggest hotel had responded to the challenge to the private sector to retrofit and has committed to make their iconic hotel more energy efficient. They plan to reduce their energy use by between 20-30 per cent; saving them up to £500,000 a year from their fuel bills.

The Strand Palace hotel project – initiated by Sustainable Development Capital Limited (SDCL) sets a precedent for the private sector in implementing energy efficiency retrofits, which will save building owners money, create jobs, make our property market more competitive by being green and cost effective as well as reduce carbon emissions.

This project demonstrates the huge impact the energy performance contracting has had in opening up the market for, creating confidence in and proving the success of the RE:FIT programme. The GLA, C40 and Clinton Climate Initiative have worked with the hotel and SDCL to share lessons learnt from RE:FIT as well as other global projects. The Strand Palace Hotel has seen the savings that have been made already in the London Fire Brigade, Transport for London and Metropolitan Police buildings and have taken up the baton

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “There is massive potential for London’s bright young innovators to get involved in environmental programmes and we’ve seen some brilliant ideas put forward for the Low Carbon Prize. The ‘green key’ could unlock the door to a more sustainable way of living for hundreds of thousands of Londoners and the plan to turn coffee grounds into biofuel is full of beans.

“It is these types of initiative that can contribute to our goal of making London greener, cleaner and more efficient. The benefits of retrofitting are huge but that is just part of a vision to save Londoners over a billion from their fuel bills. It is vital that we keep London at the forefront of global innovation to help us save money, cut waste and make this the greenest city on earth.”

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group said: “London’s success with building retrofits is a great example of city leadership on climate action. Our close partnership with London on RE:FIT, as well as private sector initiatives, has led to the implementation of best practice programs and projects from which all C40 cities around the world can learn and benefit.”

Sir Terry Farrell said: “I was really impressed at the quality and variety of students submissions. Presentation of ideas was highly professional and students really pushed the boundaries of conventional thinking with a wide range of invariably very practical ideas. The competition was a great credit to them all.”

Zac Goldsmith MP said: I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the judging panel of this innovative competition. Students are not only being encouraged to think about how to reduce London’s carbon emissions, they are being given a once in a life time opportunity to have a direct influence on the way this is achieved.”

Tony Pidgley, Chairman of The Berkeley Group, said: “If we want a mass market for greener homes, you have to make them durable, desirable and convenient. The Mayor's competition has generated a huge number of great ideas suggesting how that can be done. I think it's inspirational."

Jonathan Maxwell, Founding Partner and CEO of Sustainable Development Capital, said: “We seek to save building owners money by developing and investing energy efficiency initiatives where the savings exceed the capital costs of the project as quickly as possible. This increases the value of the building. It cuts operating costs, improves productivity and profitability. The Strand Palace project demonstrates the potential for green building projects in London and for energy efficiency in the hotels sector, reducing costs and improving comfort for guests and environmental performance. Opportunities exist today to reduce energy demand in hotels, in many cases by 20-30 per cent plus per annum.”

Through cutting carbon we can also help Londoners and London's businesses to reduce their costs. London's buildings account for nearly 80 per cent of carbon emissions, which is 35 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year. This needs to reduce to 13 million tonnes by 2025 to hit London’s target for 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. Eighty per cent of London's buildings will still be standing in 2050, which makes retrofitting them vital.

ENDS Notes to editors:

The Mayor of London has described how potential savings of £1.16bn could be achieved through the following measures:


  • £237 million of savings could be made if we meet our 45 per cent recycling target for 2015 and associated diversion from landfill.


  • £93 million could be saved if we progress towards the 2020 target of 70 per cent recycling, by 2016 that would mean recycling rate 63 per cent of business waste.


  • £30 million could be saved through the RE:FIT programme, this is based on 425 buildings which are in the pipe line being delivered by 2016 and based on savings made through RE:FIT to date. We calculate that £30 million could be saved through REFIT model or similar being delivered to private sector workplaces, matching the pipeline forecast for REFIT.


  • £7.5 million savings could be made through projects with equivalent installed power generation capacity estimated at 50MWe operating by 2016 supported by the Decentralised Energy Programme Delivery Unit.


  • £762 million could be saved by making 1.2 million homes more energy efficient by 2015. This would rely on the Government's green deal being in place in 2012 and rolled out with a network of providers in London, a regional target being set for the energy company obligation, requirements are put in place to improve the energy efficiency of properties belonging to private landlords, local authorities and registered social landlords, improved perception and awareness of solid wall insulation.


The Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize is sponsored by one of the UK's leading home builders, the Berkeley Group, and has been developed to stimulate new innovations to reduce carbon specifically from buildings. The entries which took second and third place are:


  • Bruce Pawsey (Kingston University) – 'Cyclonic Pyrolysis' (awarded second place overall and £3,300). The idea is to turn waste into electricity and heat through cyclonic pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is the thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen to produce gas. Whilst the technology is not new in itself, the proposal is to develop a working portable cyclonic pyrolysis unit and install it on a river barge. The barge would collect waste materials and harness the syngas produced to drive a gas turbine.


  • Arthur Kay, University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture 'Coffee biofuel' (awarded joint third and £3,300). As Europe's fifth largest consumer of coffee, the UK consumes over 200,000 tonnes. Half of this is drunk in London. Between 11-20 per cent of coffee grounds are oil and this idea is to turn the coffee grounds into a biofuel that could be used as a fuel in buildings or transport, this could also reduce waste disposal to landfill. The funding is to develop the concept and process for turning coffee into a fuel.


  • Din Salahud, Imperial College London, 'Alkaline solar cells' (awarded joint third and £3,300). Development of a thin film solar photovoltaic cell. This material would reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing PV cells. Due to the weight and size of the PV cells they could be fabricated onto a number of different materials including glass,without sugnificantly affecting its transparency. The aim is to test the idea on commercial fabrication of building structures.


Two other awards were highly commended by the judges.


  • Richard Beckett and Barry Wark, University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture, 'The new London Tube(s)'. Incorporating living/biological systems into our urban fabric to mitigate CO2 and waste water from our buildings and infrastructural networks. The aim is to cultivate algae which grows in tubes incorporated in and on to buildings. In this sealed system, grey water and CO2 from the buildings mechanical systems are fed in to the tubes. The algae grows on these nutrients and using sunlight via photosynthesis removes CO2 and produces oxygen and a usable energy source.


  • Michaela Rose, University of the Arts, London, 'Second Skin' . Using nano-particles, the function of skin would be extended into clothing. Second skin will look at how this could be integrated into clothing design. So rather than heating the space in buildings, clothing would adjust to the heating or cooling demands of the individual. Every person has different sensitivities to temperature. Nanotechnology acts as a second skin, but ten times more effective. Such clothes would provide warmth when you need it in the winter and cool you down in the Summer.

About C40, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative:

  • C40 is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related policies and programs locally that will help address climate change globally. C40 works in an aligned partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) Cities program, which was started by the William J. Clinton Foundation. CCI Cities became the delivery partner of C40 in 2006. The closer alliance between the two organizations --- announced in the spring of 2011 -- brings significant resources and infrastructure that will enhance and accelerate their historic activities and positions the combined effort as one of the preeminent climate action organizations in the world. The Chair of the C40 is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Deputy Chair is the London Mayor Boris Johnson. To learn more please visit


  • Is the mayor’s building programme and is now available to every public sector organisation to use in the UK. It is a ready to use, cost neutral procurement initiative that allows the public sector to retrofit existing buildings with energy saving measures with the company installing the measures guaranteeing the annual energy savings. RE:FIT was trialled on 42 buildings in the Greater London Authority group, including fire stations, police stations and Transport for London offices that have received the overhaul. This saved one million pounds off fuel bills collectively with some buildings seeing their energy efficiency improve by as much as 40 per cent. In January 2010 the RE:FIT framework was made available by the Mayor to all public sector organisations in the UK to use. Since its inception, RE:FIT has been supported by the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) Cities Program, which is now a fully integrated partner with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40). CCI and C40 worked closely with the GLA on the development of RE:FIT and encouraging building owners to commit to using the framework.

London Energy Efficiency Fund

  • The Mayor has leveraged in over £100million of public and private sector money to invest in energy efficiency retrofit to public sector-owned / occupied buildings, including via low cost, flexible loans for buildings works and through the creation of a team of experts who are providing organisations with advice and support. For more information visit


  • the homes energy efficiency programme isfunded by the Mayor and all 32 London boroughs have signed as partners in the scheme, which is being delivered in partnership with London Councils and the Energy Saving Trust. Residents in trials of the scheme made savings of up to £154 on their annual energy and water bills but it is estimated savings could be up to £180 a year taking into account recent energy price rises. The RE:NEW team is active in selected areas across all London boroughs. The service they are offering includes a tailor-made range of energy-reducing devices installed by a trained assessor. The scheme provides a range of different measures for free such as low energy light bulbs, radiator panels and stand-by switches. It also offers water saving measures. Where appropriate, more substantial measures, such as loft and cavity wall insulation, are offered. These are subsidised for those able to pay and free for those on qualifying benefits helping to tackle fuel poverty. Londoners can find out if they are in one of the areas where this service is being offered by visiting:


  • The Mayor has invested £3 million in ten low carbon zones in London. These ten zones are demonstrating the importance of engaging residents, communities and businesses in transforming the carbon footprint of neighbourhoods. They are working to reduce their emission by 20.12 per cent by 2012. By September 2012, around 16,000 tonnes of CO2 have been saved across the zones. 7,800 homes will have been retrofitted. Increased community ownership of assets, as well as volunteering, training, education and job creation.


  • About Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) - London based Sustainable Development Capital is a specialist investment advisory firm arranging financing for projects, companies and funds in the environmental markets. It is a market leader in developing and investing in energy efficiency projects in commercial, industrial and public buildings and draws on extensive knowledge and experience gained through its activities in Asia and the USA as well as in the UK.


  • Sustainable Development Capital provides building owners, operators and users with the capital and expertise to properly evaluate the potential for making energy efficiency improvements, arrange for the best and most cost effective providers in the market to deliver the projects and generate immediate cost savings.


About The Strand Palace Hotel :


  • The Strand Palace hotel, situated in the heart of the West End, is the sixth largest hotel in London, with 784 rooms and an overall capacity of 330,000 square feet. The Strand Palace has been awarded Gold Accreditation from the Green Tourism Business Scheme and is the first hotel in the UK to be awarded World Host Recognised Business status with over 80 per cent of its frontline staff having been trained to World Host customer service standards. The programme has also been given the London 2012 Olympics LOCOG Inspire Mark in recognition of its contribution to development of staff in advance of the London Olympic Games.

For media enquiries please call Nicola Dillon or Elizabeth Lee at the Mayor’s Press Office on 020 7983 4066/4928. Numbers not for publication.

For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000. For non-media enquiries please call the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.