Eco champions tot up cost of carbon

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AN ECO champion from Dronfield has teamed up with a friend to tot up their town’s entire carbon footprint.

Former University of Sheffield analyst Ian Ward, aged 65, and John Fletcher, 64, are sizing up housing, industry and transport to work out the town’s carbon output.

They hope the information can be used to effect change to local policy and transport, as well as to inspire Dronfield people to rein in energy use.

Ian, a retired energy consultant, of Longacre Road, said: “Eventually something will have to be done about the amount of carbon that is allowed to be produced. So we thought, if we could have a look at the whole of Dronfield and find out roughly what our carbon footprint is, we could see what viable things would help to reduce it.”

Ian, who used to head The University of Sheffield’s Building Energy Analysis Unit, devised the idea after retiring in 2009.

He teamed up with John, a consultant for the timber industry, and the two have already estimated the energy consumption of much of the town’s housing.

They now plan to compile data for Dronfield’s public buildings, bus services and factories before drawing up their findings by the summer.

John, of Lea Road, said: “It’s a long-term thing so we are just trying to put the issue on the radar.

“Some people have started to think green already, by driving green vehicles and installing solar panels, and those are the kind of things we need to start looking at around here.”

One change the pair hope to inspire is better integration of the town’s transport network. Only one bus route currently takes commuters near the train station, where car parking space is also limited.

Ian said: “Transport is a big one - the amount of commuting that goes on between here and Sheffield in the morning.

“We need to look at where people live, where they work and where they shop.”

Michael Muntus, spokesman for The Friends of Dronfield Station campaign group, said: “Our carbon footprint would obviously be reduced by people not having to drive all the way to Sheffield. But at the moment half the town has no bus link to the station and there is an issue with parking there. That gives people an incentive to drive to Sheffield.”

Ian, who lives with wife Elaine, also has ambitious plans to influence key decision-makers by demonstrating the cost of energy inefficiency.

He estimates the 1970s-built homes that make up much of the town’s housing eat up 300 kilowatt hours of energy per square metre – around twice as much as those constructed in the 1990s.

“If we can get a handle on how much that is costing Dronfield, we can feed it into local government and make the point that we’ve got to do something,” he added.

Ian and John’s scheme has already earned the backing of Dronfield Town Council after a meeting with its environment committee.

Coun Angelique Foster said the council was ‘keen to seriously look into the matter, which will affect future generations of residents’.

She said: “It would be good to see how our carbon footprint compares with similar towns. We might then want to look at ways to involve the public in reducing it.”