Amongst the London boroughs, Croydon is currently the 13th least polluting of 33 with carbon emissions at 5.5 tonnes per capita. Croydon is in the midst of a £3.5 billion regeneration programme of new buildings offering office accommodation, leisure and shopping opportunities and homes. Whilst the council's planning policies will ensure low carbon developments, there will be an increased demand for energy during the period of construction. Currently all new large buildings are required by Croydon to source 10% of their energy needs from renewable sources, as well as meet Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4.
Croydon is London's largest borough in terms of population with over 340,000 residents. Emissions from the domestic sector make up the largest portion of Croydon's carbon footprint. Croydon has the largest private housing sector in London at over 116,000 homes. 26% are pre-1919 and 60% are pre-1945. Due to the age of the buildings, their energy efficiency is very low, leaving room for substantial improvement. The council is committed to achieving the government's aim for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016. Behavioural changes can effect the most change, (download our energy saving tips from the bottom of the page to see what you can do) however other changes can be significant. For example, if every light bulb in every London home was energy efficient, it could save 575,000 tonnes of CO2 and £139 million per year; if all appliances in homes were energy-efficient, this could translate into savings of £150 million from electricity bills and 620,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.
Commercial and industrial buildings
Croydon has more office floor space than anywhere else in south London with 58,000 m2. However, a high proportion is old stock (1940-1970) and only 6% is new (1990- 2003), compared to 57% in Reading and 60% in Crawley. Commercial buildings are typically refurbished every ten years, and energy efficiency improvements can be more easily made during refurbishment. Over 700 local businesses have already signed up to the Environmental Business Excellence Support programme 'Envibe' which offers free tailored support to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with travel, Envibe also offers environmental advice with respect to waste, recycling, water and procurement. Expanding this programme and developing a centralised method for monitoring, recognising and rewarding carbon savings could deliver significant improvements.
There has been a dramatic growth in road traffic in the UK over the last few years as a result of changes and growth in population, retail, leisure and commercial activities. The consequences can be seen in increasing congestion in many parts of the borough: the deterioration in environmental quality due to pollution, disturbance, noise and disadvantages to the local economy because of delays caused by congestion. The construction of Croydon Tramlink in 2000 brought a sustainable transport system that regularly carries more than 70,000 passengers and removes more than 7000 vehicles from the roads each day. Croydon will also benefit from the extension of the East London line scheduled to start services in the summer of 2010. A shift towards lower carbon modes of transport can be achieved by increasing the attractiveness of these more sustainable modes and by taking steps to ensure that the cost of each transport mode reflects its true cost in terms of carbon emissions.
Each year, the UK generates about 100 million tonnes of waste from households, commerce and industry. In comparison with other London authorities, Croydon's performance for diverting waste for recycling and composting had been poor, ranked 23rd (out of 33) with a recycling rate of 20.11%. The Waste Strategy and Recycling Plan 2008/11 sets out how the council will increase the amount of waste re-used and meet the council's ambitious recycling target of 40% in 2010. A key priority will be reducing waste in line with the waste hierarchy. Also, from September 2008 the South London Waste Partnership has been working to establish contracts for the transfer, transport and disposal of waste; management of household Reuse and Recycling Centres and management of recycling facilities; composting and additional treatment.
Clean air is vital to human health. The Environment Act 1995 requires the council to undertake a process of local air quality management. As such, the council has an air quality action plan containing measures it is currently taking and intends to take in the future to improve air quality. Croydon has met and will continue to meet existing statutory air quality objectives for all but one pollutant: nitrogen dioxide.
Croydon council has designated the whole borough an air quality management area because the air quality objective for annual average levels of nitrogen dioxide, one of the main pollutants from road traffic, is breached along most of the borough's main roads.
A key priority for the council is to devote similar levels of activity to the domestic and commercial sector as have been spent on road traffic in terms of bringing down emissions of local air pollutants. In 2009 the council will produce a draft domestic emissions reduction strategy, aimed at identifying simple, low-cost, quick-win measures that could be taken to reduce emissions of air pollution from homes and identify how these could be funded.
Adaptation to climate change
The impacts of climate change might include increases in flooding, temperature, drought and extreme weather events. These could create risks and opportunities such as: impacts to transport infrastructure from melting roads or buckling rails, increases in tourism, increased damage to buildings from storms, impacts on local ecosystems and biodiversity, scope to grow new crops, changing patterns of disease, impacts on planning and the local economy and public health.