Environmentally friendly plan for council's new headquarters at Alconbury Weald

Shire Hall in Cambridge has been sold.

Shire Hall in Cambridge has been sold. - Credit: CCC

Car park solar canopies - with a price tag of nearly £1m - will provide power for Cambridgeshire County Council’s new headquarters at Alconbury Weald as well charging electric vehicles.

The canopies are set to be installed at the headquarters, subject to gaining planning permission, as part of a bid to make the building more environmentally friendly and reduce the carbon footprint.

Borrowing of £448,000 in 2020-21 and a further £480,000 in 2021-22 to fund the initiative has been approved by the council’s General Purposes Committee.

The design of the new headquarters, named New Shire Hall, already includes solar panels on the roof to reduce the use of grid electricity and air source heat pumps, a low carbon solution for heating buildings, will replace the need for fossil fuel heating on-site. 

Adding the solar carports, in rows on every other cluster of parking bays, will increase the volume of electricity generated to meet approximately 40 per cent of the on-site electricity demand and support clean energy for the vehicle chargers. They will be installed at the same time as the new HQ is fitted out.

The decision means that there will be an estimated reduction of 720 tonnes of carbon emissions at the New Shire Hall through on-site renewable electricity generation. 

Cllr Josh Schumann, chairman of the council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee, said: “I am delighted that General Purposes Committee has agreed to fund this forward-thinking project. We are committed as a council to reducing our carbon footprint and where better to showcase this than at our new Alconbury Weald headquarters.”

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Council leader Cllr Steve Count, who is a climate change champion and chairman of the national Countryside Climate Network, said: “The solar carports reaffirm our determination to be fossil fuel free for the council buildings we own and occupy by 2025 and this makes a contribution to getting Cambridgeshire towards being carbon neutral by 2050. 

“They will enable us to encourage cleaner methods of travel, as well as providing clean power for New Shire Hall. They will save money and the environment – both of which the residents of Cambridgeshire expect and deserve.”

The Alconbury building will replace the council’s current headquarters in Cambridge.