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TfL Announces Funding for Transformative Street-Improvement Trials



Four innovative schemes that will transform streets in the Capital have been awarded grants as part of Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Future Streets Incubator Fund. The fund, which is one element of the Mayor’s £4bn Road Modernisation Plan, has been created to encourage creative and more effective uses of the Capital’s limited road space and help alleviate the pressures on the network.

By funding original on-street projects, it is designed to trigger innovation that will lead to long-term improvements across London, addressing congestion, overcrowding, air quality and noise pollution.

The latest projects to receive TfL funding include an intelligent street to generate energy and improve air quality near Oxford Street, an innovate boardwalk to improve a traffic-dominated rat-run in Southwark, a noise-absorbing

system to improve an underpass of the A12 and a novel delivery service to reduce vehicles on the Capital’s roads.

Previously-funded projects have included temporary parks and seating through the Ealing Parklet and Team London Bridge’s Fresh Air Squares and Westminster’s e-tag parking.

Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, said: “Given the growing pressures on our road network to move people and goods, and tackle air pollution, we need to be evermore inventive in how we use our limited road space.

These worthy winners are just a few examples of how we are trailing new approaches that could bring big benefits to roads across the city.”

Following the award, TfL will now work with the successful bidders to deliver the latest round of projects later this year. They include:

  • Creating an ‘Intelligent Street’ in the West End; Bird Street – a traffic-free space off Oxford Street – will be transformed with a range of cutting-edge technologies designed to generate energy from the sun and pavement movement, and potentially improve air quality. Materials in roofs, canopies and pavements would generate the energy, and would be integrated into an enjoyable public space that will prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. This project will be delivered by the New West End Company.
  • Using a flexible boardwalk to transform Lavington Street in Southwark into a pedestrian boulevard; an innovative new boardwalk system will be used to widen the path as one-way traffic is trialled on the traffic-dominated rat run. The boardwalk will include plants and greenery and points of interest drawn from the Southwark Local History Library, encouraging more people to walk and cycle safely through the area. This project will be delivered by Better Bankside, with the boardwalk system commissioned through an invited design and build competition.
  • Creating an innovative noise-absorbing barrier to protect residents near the A12 Blackwall Tunnel; a new noise-absorption material will be trialled at the A12 underpass between Empson Street and Gillender Street to create a more attractive barrier that incorporates a green wall with integrated watering system. The project will investigate the potential for reducing the impact of noise and air pollution from major roads on local communities, as well as testing methods for reducing surface water on the A12. This project will be delivered by the Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association and London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • Consolidation of deliveries to businesses within Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles; a central platform for ordering everyday items like milk and newspapers will allow consolidated deliveries to be made using electric vehicles or cargo bikes to up to 320 local businesses. The new consolidation service, delivered by the Inmidtown BID, could reduce vehicle miles by 81 per cent per year and achieve an annual 60 per cent reduction in delivery-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard De Cani, TfL’s Managing Director of Planning, said: “The fabulously creative and innovative ideas we are funding as part of the Incubator Fund capture the spirit of turning London’s streets into places for all to enjoy and work to deliver the vision of the Mayor’s Roads Task Force. By trialling new ideas we are able to look to the future at how we can make our roads and public spaces work better for everyone.”

Steve Medway, Managing Director Trading Environment, New West End Company (NWEC), said: “London’s West End is one of the most vibrant and exciting shopping destinations in the world, attracting millions of shoppers each year. This funding will enable us to provide a beautiful oasis for shoppers and residents to enjoy in the heart of our Capital city, trialling some of the newest clean air technology, as part of our continued aim to improve air quality in the West End.”

Peter Williams, CEO, Better Bankside, said: “Future Streets will make it possible to trial, in a creative and innovative way, the transformation of Lavington Street SE1 from a traffic cut through to pleasant pedestrian route for Bankside workers and visitors to the area alike. We look forward to developing and implementing this exciting project with our local businesses, residents and TfL. We hope it can be solution that can then be applied more widely in Bankside and elsewhere in London.”

Paul Augarde, Head of Creativity & Innovation for Poplar HARCA, said: “We are thrilled to have secured funding for the first stage of our ‘A12:Green Mile’ project alongside the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and University of East London. The funding will allow us to design, implement, monitor and test a series of initiatives around noise attenuation, reduction in air pollution, and environmental enhancement along one of London’s busiest roads – making Poplar a cleaner, greener and better place to live.”

Tass Mavrogordato, CEO of InMIdtown, said: “Funding for our project to create a consolidated delivery booking service for business essentials using electric vehicles will help to radically reduce deliveries in the InMIdtown area from over 5,000 trips per day to just over 1,000, reducing congestion and CO2 emissions by over 60 per cent. This will have a hugely positive impact to Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles and reduce congestion, overcrowding and improve air quality.”

TfL established the fund in 2014 to invest in creative and original on-street projects and inspire bright ideas to help make the Capital’s streets fit for the future. Schemes are delivered in partnership between TfL and the successful bidders and the trials have the potential to be expanded across London.

It is just one part of the Mayor’s Road Modernisation Plan to radically transform the way the Capital’s roads and public spaces are used. The £4bn plan is the largest investment in the Capital’s roads in a generation and includes an unprecedented £1bn investment in cycling, new major projects to transform dozens of key junctions across the city, the rollout of world-leading technological innovations to get more capacity out of the road network, and an urgently-needed maintenance and renewals programme for London’s aging road network.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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