A North East council has been given top-level accreditation for its work to become greener – and has also scooped a national award.

Following an independent audit, Durham County Council has been awarded green status from the Investors in Environment (iiE) scheme for making the council and County Durham a greener place to live and work. It has also been awarded an Overall Outstanding Achiever (Large Organisation) award in this year’s 2022 iiE award ceremony.

iiE is a national environmental accreditation scheme designed to help organisations reduce their impact on the environment, save time and money and get recognition for their progress.

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We are thrilled with our green accreditation and with the recognition provided by the Overall Outstanding Achiever award. We are grateful to iiE for its support, which is helping us become a more sustainable and environmentally friendly council and look forward to continuing our journey of improvement.”

The council is one of only 28 per cent of iiE member organisations to have been accredited this year as green. The council was commended on its declaration of an ecological emergency, continued work to embed carbon reduction initiatives across the council and for staff engagement. This includes the delivery of mandatory climate change training to all staff.

Recognition was also given for the delivery of a wide array of other environmental projects and initiatives to improve the council’s sustainability and protect and enhance County Durham’s environment.

Projects such as installing air source heat pumps and solar panels at Woodland Primary School, making it the county’s lowest emitting carbon school, and the continued redevelopment of Morrison Busty Depot to become a nearly zero carbon site, have helped the council climb from silver to the top green accolade in the two years since joining the scheme.