PERSUADING staff to switch off lights and computers when they are not in use has won a council a national award.

Durham County Council says the Big Switch Off campaign has reduced its electricity bill by £90,000-a-year.

The authority has now been given a top award from Greenbuild, a national organisation celebrating sustainability in buildings.

The Big Switch Off awareness campaign runs for two weeks at a time and to date has been tried in 10 of the authority’s buildings, including offices, leisure centres and training centres.

Staff are given daily updates on energy use in the building resulting in savings of up to 18 per cent over the two-week campaign, figures which have been sustained in subsequent months.

Councillor Brian Stephens, Durham County Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “This is a hugely merited award and is testament to the efforts of our energy aware staff who continue to make great efforts to reduce electricity costs.”

The project is being rolled out across the authority, building by building.