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Bristol celebrates business contribution to a greener city


chrisdunfordawardLast week, in an event hosted by European Green Capital sponsor Burges Salmon, the annual West of England Carbon Challenge (WECC) Awards celebrated businesses and organisations in the West of England that have made a significant commitment to sustainability during 2014.

The eight winners of WECC awards included At-Bristol, crowned ‘All Round Carbon Champions 2014’ in recognition of its continuous commitment to reducing its carbon footprint over several years. Berwick Lodge, Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council, Alec French Architects, Burges Salmon, Stride Treglown, Pukka Herbs and Bodywise also accepted awards for their exemplary environmental practices.

Forum for the Future launched the WECC in 2009 and handed the baton to Low Carbon South West in 2012. Over the last five years the Challenge has provided local businesses with a unique opportunity to demonstrate their contribution to the creation of a sustainable future for the region, with participants discovering just how reducing their carbon impact can benefit their staff, their environment and their bottom-line.

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Low Carbon South West took the opportunity to announce a brand new initiative for 2015 – Go Green. Go Green is the brand new scheme for businesses and organisations that are working to create a low carbon city with a high quality of life for Bristol in 2015 and beyond. The scheme is being run in collaboration between Business West and Low Carbon South West, and once launched early next year, businesses, charities and organisations of all sizes and in all sectors will be eligible to join the free scheme. Whether a company is taking its first steps towards sustainability or has been leading the way on social and environmental practices for years, Go Green provides a simple pathway that can be tailored to fit every business. Businesses that join will be able to attend networking events, access support and guidance, stay informed on green funding and training opportunities and be recognised for their sustainable achievements.

Launching in 2015, Go Green will help businesses formulate a green action plan, track their progress, connect with other businesses in the region and clearly communicate their contribution towards creating a clean and sustainable business community for Bristol.

To register interest in Go Green and receive an update when the scheme goes live, visit All organisations who have pledged and become members of the Green Capital Partnership will automatically receive all information on the scheme and will be invited to join the scheme when it opens.

Go Green will Amy Robinson, Network Director at Low Carbon South West, said:

“Each and every WECC participant deserves recognition for their achievements. This year’s WECC awards were the last, but as Bristol’s business community prepares for city’s year as European Green Capital 2015, Low Carbon South West are joining forces with Business West to present Go Green. Go Green is an even more accessible and ambitious way for businesses and organisations to become more sustainable and it is open to businesses of all sizes in all sectors.

“We want to help businesses learn from each others’ experiences, enabling them to cut their carbon impact, save money and improve the environment. Bristol is a world-leading hub for sustainable technology design and, as tonight’s winners have shown, businesses of all shapes and sizes are benefitting from being in this innovative and imaginative place. The more businesses that Go Green in 2015, the better it is for Bristol’s economy and environment.”

The winners of the WECC Awards 2014

At-Bristol, All-Round Carbon Champion

As a major UK science and education centre with 83 staff, At-Bristol has been at the forefront in spreading the message of sustainability in recent years. 
At-Bristol’s commitment to carbon reduction is deeply embedded, and it states energy reduction as one of its highest priorities.

At-Bristol has won WECC awards for the past three years. It also holds a range of other green awards including a Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold Award and a Soil Association Food for Life Gold Catering Mark.

At-Bristol has achieved significant carbon savings by adopting a wide range of solutions but it isn’t stopping there. In January 2014, At-Bristol made a major investment to refit all the lights in the Millennium Square car park with low energy LEDs. These LEDs are saving approximately 330 tonnes of CO2 a year and have reduced At-Bristol’s overall energy consumption by a staggering 20% in one year, despite a growing number of visitors.

At-Bristol demonstrates brilliantly the benefits that come with being green, and has fully entered into the spirit of peer-to-peer learning characterised by the West of England Carbon Challenge. It has contributed case studies, event space and a behind the scenes tour for WECC members in the past year alone.

Berwick Lodge, Outstanding Achievement Award

Berwick Lodge is a five star luxury hotel and conference centre on the outskirts of Bristol. Owners Sarah and Fevzi Arikan and their team have sought to achieve and maintain high environmental standards since opening in 2009.

Working with an historic building has provided plenty of scope to improve efficiency. The Berwick Lodge team has invested in energy efficient lighting, energy saving sockets in the hotel rooms to stop appliances being left on standby, and insulation. These measures have led to a 35% saving in electricity use and 14% in gas and oil. They plan to lower that last figure further next year and are currently planning to replace three oil boilers with one using biomass.

This summer, Berwick Lodge employed James Rogers, a green intern from UWE. As well as assisting with Energy Deck, James came up with lots of ideas to help the hotel become greener. He also helped implement an environmental policy, a responsible visitor charter and a Green Guest feedback form.

Berwick Lodge also collect rainwater and compost the kitchen’s food waste – which both go to improve the hotel’s vegetable garden. All this recent work has led Berwick Lodge to sign up to the internationally renowned Green Tourism Business Scheme, and it attained a silver award this year.

The range of actions the business has taken has led to significant energy savings and the team’s sights are set on even more in the future.

Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council, Outstanding Achievement Award

Bath & North East Somerset Council is taking a leading role in carbon reduction and has managed to achieve outstanding savings of 24% in electricity consumption, 10% in gas consumption and an 8% decrease in CO2 emissions across its estate in the last year.

LED replacements in over 4,000 street lights around the district are already saving the council over £200,000 per annum and they are working with 78 schools in the district to look at technical improvements, energy monitoring and classroom behaviour – which has saved 965 tonnes of carbon in the last academic year.

The council’s new state-of-the-art office at Keynsham Civic Centre has been built using ‘Passivhaus’ design with an enormous 244 kilowatt peak solar array on the roof, thought to be one of the largest local authority owned PV systems in the UK. This new building will emit 90% less CO2 per annum compared to its old building and has also been designed to facilitate remote working and hot desking.

Currently the council is on track to meet its target of 80% recycling and recovery of waste, and it is supporting a range of sustainable initiatives around the district.

Alec French Architects, Best Company (Under 250 Employees)

Alec French is an architectural practice with 26 employees based in central Bristol. Being tenants of a converted historic building, the options for serious renovation are limited. However, the team has gone to great effort to improve insulation and to exclude draughts, which has led to a reduction in gas consumption by an incredible 36% in the past two years, despite staff numbers growing by 50%.

In addition, they have upgraded electrical equipment, improved teleconferencing and flexible working facilities, and they haven’t stopped there – they have recently refitted the office with LED lighting and replaced kettles with an instant hot water tap.

As well as improving the businesses physical infrastructure, employee engagement has been a priority, and Alec French Architects has a six person Green Team.
Employees benefit from a Cycle to Work scheme and each year staff spend half a day planting native broadleaf trees in and around Bristol. They have planted over 1000 trees to date.

The company accepts payments in Bristol Pounds for local projects and has recently switched to a local food supplier for in-house meetings.

Alec French is commended for its dedication to environmentally sustainability, and for demonstrating how much a small business can achieve.

Burges Salmon, Best Company (Over 250 Employees)

Burges Salmon is one of the UK’s leading providers of legal and commercial advice and is a founding member of the Legal Sector Alliance, a group of law firms dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint. The company has been a long-standing member of WECC.

In the past year, the firm has focused on three main areas that it considers to be its main impact – procurement and use of resources, waste management, and travel.

In September 2013 Burges Salmon’s Environmental Management System was certified to ISO 14001. Its headquarters, One Glass Wharf on Temple Quay, is notably eco-friendly with a BREEAM Excellent energy rating. The building incorporates a range of green features such as energy efficient heating, remote energy saving sensors, rainwater harvesting and green building materials, and it even uses dock water for cooling.
However, the business doesn’t just rely on technology. It has a full programme to engage staff on green issues. Its ‘BSustainable’ committee encourages sustainable working and travel practices among colleagues, and it runs an internal ‘green week’ every June. The committee recently held a ‘Bin Amnesty’ where over half the staff agreed to give up their personal bins, and they have switched their recycling provider, pushing the percentage of waste saved from landfill by up to 97%. 
A wide range of measures has led to a 15% reduction in natural gas use since 2012, and a 9% reduction in carbon emissions overall. Burges Salmon have continued to show that it is eminently possible for a sustainable ethos to reach throughout a large organisation, and it continues to set a gold standard in good practice.

Stride Treglown, Best Staff Engagement Award

Stride Treglown is the UK’s tenth largest architectural practice with their Bristol base on the Promenade in Clifton. In the past two years the business has been working hard to lead the way on sustainable issues, and its most notable achievement is the part it has played in establishing Business Green Week, a city-wide campaign to encourage green behaviour change at work. With the team’s expertise in running three years of internal green weeks, they wanted to help other organisations follow suit and worked with Business West and Low Carbon South West, offering expert advice and time from their in-house graphic design team to put together a ‘How to Guide’ with top tips to advise other businesses on how to run their own green weeks.

For its own employees, Stride Treglown’s 2014 Business Green Week featured numerous interesting and engaging events from a photo competition, tea tasting, staff breakfast presentations and even an office dawn chorus, with the highlight being an evening of sustainability talks in Redcliffe Caves.

Stride Treglown have earned this award for its fun and innovative approach in encouraging employees to help the environment, and their pro-bono work to take it to the wider business community.

Pukka Herbs, Innovative Solutions Award

Pukka Herbs is a leading supplier of organic teas and herbs, and employs 69 staff at premises in Hengrove. Although the company has experienced rapid growth of 40% year on year, Pukka Herbs is committed to achieving carbon neutral status by 2017 and as such the team is adopting various creative solutions to meet this ambitious target.

Earlier this year, Pukka carried out a whole-business climate change exercise – which included a game of climate change charades! The whole company got into teams and had great fun miming the causes and effects of climate change, and exploring ways to reduce their impact. Following this exercise, employees set personal reduction goals that are incorporated into the staff appraisal process.

With suppliers as far afield as India, China and Rajasthan, the team at Pukka is well aware of the business’s dependence on global supply chains and the need to act responsibly and build their business resilience. They have formally identified risks to their growers through extreme weather from climate change, and are investing in solutions to support the farmers in sustainable soil management, for example by financing rainwater harvesting and tree planting initiatives.

Furthermore, Pukka Herbs has considered the carbon impact of its supply chain and has worked hard to engage with its suppliers, recently persuading its tea packers to switch to a 100% renewable energy tariff.

Pukka Herbs has used a variety of creative solutions and, by considering its responsibility beyond its own immediate operations, has found many ways to have a positive influence. Overall, the judges believe Pukka has shown impressive innovation in the range of measures it has put in place.

Bodywise, Carbon Commitment Award

Bodywise is a local manufacturer of Natracare feminine hygiene products with 12 employees. Since being founded in 1989, the business has based itself on ethical and ecological practices and now ships its products all over the world.

Following relocation last year from leased premises to its own site in Bradley Stoke, the company has managed to achieve an amazing 41% reduction in electricity use. It has installed LED lighting and motion sensors, and has undertaken a range of other positive measures, such as wall and roof insulation, use of thermostatic radiator valves and dual flush toilets. It now purchases all its energy from a 100% renewable energy supplier.

Being located in Bradley Stoke, traffic is an ongoing issue, but the company has provided support to staff to help them commute by bike. During the refurbishment, two shower rooms and a secure, covered bike area were installed.

The company’s new premises have also provided an unexpected opportunity for Bodywise to create a wildlife garden on a plot of overgrown, disused land behind the building. Staff have created a vegetable bed, orchard, wildflower meadow, and a pond fed by rainwater from the roof. This year, as part of Bristol’s Business Green Week, all the staff spent their lunchtimes digging the vegetable garden together, and sharing their harvest.

Bodywise has shown great dedication to being environmentally friendly, and the significant investment it has made in refitting the new premises has led to an overall 9% decrease in CO2 emissions.

About the West of England Carbon Challenge (WECC)

The West of England Carbon Challenge (WECC) is a network of private and public sector organisations in the areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Members are committed to reducing our collective carbon footprint. In order to achieve this, members must measure, report and reduce their carbon footprint. WECC was launched In May 2009 by Forum for the Future in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy, The Prince’s May Day Trust and Business West. In 2013 the running of the scheme was passed on to Low Carbon South West CIC.

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