Sustainability in Council Services

The Sustainability in Council Services project brought together people from councils across England to create routemaps to embed sustainability into services.


We have developed the Sustainability in Council Services hub in response to councils asking for help to embed sustainable practices in everything they do. The LGA commissioned the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) innovation lab to bring together council staff from a range of policy areas to discuss how they might do this. Together, we have developed a series of themed routemaps based on the participants’ discussions.

This is the beginning of an ongoing piece of work for the LGA. We've started with the areas of buildings; energy generation, land use, land-use change and forestry, and agriculture, transport, and waste. We will be adding to these areas, so please use the feedback form to suggest a service you'd like to see covered. All suggested interventions are intended for council consideration. They are not appropriate for every council.

The LGA hopes this project will help councils to find sustainable ways of delivering their vital work. We welcome feedback on how we can improve and grow what we have started. Please fill in the feedback form (opens in new tab) to let us know your thoughts.

The LGA commissioned the CAT to deliver the Sustainability in Council Services project through a Zero Carbon Britain innovation lab. This hub has been designed to share the outputs of the lab, including the routemaps and more information on the innovation lab process.

Innovation labs take a co-creative approach to involve stakeholders in designing solutions to a specific challenge – in this instance, how to embed sustainability into council services.

The solutions identified focus on actions within councils’ remits. For example, interventions related to policy and funding are limited to actions within councils’ control and do not relate to lobbying or national policy and funding. This project was a pilot to enable initial routemaps to be produced. Feedback will be collected from councils across England over the coming months, which will feed into further development of the routemaps.

Why councils?

Although councils are only directly responsible for two to five per cent of emissions in their local area, through supply chains and partnerships their influence accounts for around 30 per cent*. Therefore, councils have a significant role to play in the UK reaching net zero through:

  • involving, engaging and communicating with communities
  • partnerships
  • place shaping
  • procurement
  • showcasing and innovating.

*Climate Change Committee – Sixth Carbon Budget

Purpose of the Sustainability in Council Services project

The purpose of the Sustainability in Council Services project was to create routemaps to embed sustainability in services that could be used by any member of a council, from officers to managers, CEOs to leaders. The routemaps would include interventions focused on five key areas – buildings, energy generation, land use, land-use change and forestry, and agriculture (referred to as ‘land use’ in routemaps), transport and waste. The project aimed to work with representatives from councils across England.

It is important to note that the routemaps are not a finished product. They are prototypes that the LGA will continue to collect feedback on and develop. Bringing in even wider input and reflections will make the routemaps as comprehensive and effective as possible.

Find out more detail about the innovation lab approach on this webpage.

Throughout the lab, connections to the Sixth Carbon Budget and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were made, with the latter mapped to interventions in the routemaps.


The Sustainability in Council Services project produced five themed routemaps suggesting interventions for councils to consider implementing.

Through a series of workshops, the participants explored five themes based on the Local Authorities and the Sixth Carbon Budget report: buildings; energy generation; land use, land-use change and forestry (referred to as ‘land use’ in routemaps), and agriculture; transport; and waste. The LGA and CAT used the outputs from these workshops to create routemaps. These enable staff at all levels to implement actions to embed sustainability into their role, team and council service area.