Birmingham District Energy Company (BDEC), a partnership comprising Cofely (a GDF SUEZ company), Birmingham City Council, Aston University and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, has recently clinched the Partners in Expert Services Award in the PFM 2011 Awards and was also voted Overall Winner 2011 (‘best of the best’) by the judges.

The role of BDEC is to provide low carbon heat, electricity and chilled water to a range of buildings in Birmingham through the Birmingham District Energy Scheme, which is owned and operated by Cofely. Since the first phase became operational in 2009 it has reduced Birmingham’s carbon emissions by some 17,000,000kg and is now delivering savings in excess of 300,000 kg per annum.

After visiting the scheme the judges concluded, “An excellent partnership and an outstanding example of joint working between the public and private sectors. This complex partnership has overcome the problems of public sector governance and delivered a sound solution which continues to develop. With energy provision, security of supply, and costs notably at the forefront of business and government concerns, here is a real ‘trailblazer’ that can demonstrate how working in true partnership can deliver benefits to every member – and ultimately to the public at large.”

Councillor Paul Tilsley MBE, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council commented, “I am delighted at this award for the Birmingham District Energy Company. The City Council is proud to have such a close working partnership with Cofely. As a city we have set ourselves a challenging carbon reduction target and we need to drastically cut Birmingham’s annual overall energy bill of over £1.6bn. District energy schemes like the ones which we have built in the city centre are key to cut that bill. It makes sense and I look forward to many more of the city’s regeneration and development schemes taking advantage of the lower costs associated with district energy.”

Simon Woodward, CEO of Cofely District Energy, added, “We were delighted to win both the Expert Services Award and the Overall Award. These awards provide clear independent verification of the success of our unique framework for delivering public private partnerships. They are also testament to the benefits of the partnering philosophy that prevails within the Birmingham District Energy scheme. This has been very much a team effort and much of the credit must go to those people at the ‘sharp end’ in all of the organisations involved, who are turning innovative strategies into practical, carbon reducing realities.”

Due to the scheme’s significant delivery of financial and carbon savings to its consumers, it has grown rapidly since its inception and continues to evolve with the addition of new public and private sector customers and the introduction of low carbon technologies. The scheme is also being extended into several regeneration areas across the city and, ultimately, all of these ‘sub-schemes’ will be linked together to improve resilience and maximise energy saving opportunities.