In 2021, Sunderland City Council and Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley launched two low-carbon challenges aimed at reducing carbon emissions across Sunderland.
Sunderland City Council developed an ambitious Smart City vision and delivery programme to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Council developed a roadmap based on internal data to convert this target into accessible steps. Through this, it identified the areas that would benefit the most from carbon reduction as emissions through transport and carbon use in buildings.
The Council partnered with Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley, which is delivered by Sunderland Software City on behalf of the central Digital Catapult, to introduce two initiatives aimed at decreasing carbon emissions throughout Sunderland, with a focus on low-carbon solutions.
The trials for both challenges took place from late 2021 to early 2022, with a showcase event held later in 2022 highlighting the results.
The first challenge was a Carbon Neutral Challenge, where the Council would use the data to both proactively and reactively improve energy consumption and carbon emissions in its buildings. The second challenge, the Transport Challenge, was to help the Council better understand the reasons behind travel and mobility patterns across the city’s transport network, and influence future behaviour towards more sustainable transport modes.
Following an open call for applications, for which tech startups and SMEs were invited to pitch, Nomad Energy Solutions and Nebula Labs were awarded commercial contracts to implement working prototypes.
Nomad Energy Solutions analysed data to identify up to a 50% reduction in gas and over 10% savings in electricity. This helped develop a net-zero pathway for other Council-owned buildings.
Nebula Labs used an app that tracked 106 journeys across 5 weeks to support a shift towards more sustainable transport modes. The proposed next stage is implementing a second pilot programme on a much larger scale to gather further valuable data.
“For us it was a fantastic opportunity to co-create a solution that involved working with Sunderland City Council and Digital Catapult. The most exciting part was that over a period of 10 weeks or so, we took the project from inception to completion and delivered really, really impressive results to save energy and reduce carbon.”(Nomad Energy Solutions)
"It was a really interesting opportunity where we were able to bring an existing technology that we had developed to a much bigger scale. We were really excited about being able to address the whole Council workforce with this project. The scale the Council brought was really brilliant and also the different expertise and backgrounds to complement our technology. The Council are able to look at how it can be used for urban and transport planning with their experts in ways we hadn't thought of in lots of novel ways."(Nebula Labs)