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Sustainable Futures Look Bright Green

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On 3rd March The green carpet was rolled out at Mansion House for the Sustainable City Awards where businesses from across the UK won ‘Green Oscars’ for their innovation and commitment to sustainability.

More than 200 guests attended the 15th annual event, established by the City of London Corporation in 2001, as 14 awards were presented by host former Lord Mayor Dame Fiona Woolf DBE.

Air quality at the forefront

Air quality is currently hot on the sustainability agenda – the full scale of the impact poor air quality has on health in the UK was recently revealed by study from Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The study concluded air pollution has a substantial impact on many chronic long term conditions, increasing strokes and heart attacks in susceptible individuals. It also adversely effects the development of the foetus, including lung development, and now there is compelling evidence that air pollution is associated with new onset asthma in children and adults.

It was thus fitting that Client Earth’s campaign, ‘Fighting for the right to breathe clean air’ received the Air Quality Award. The organisation of activist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet brought a major case against the UK government over their ongoing failure to comply with EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – which they should have met in 2010.

Client Earth drew attention to the fact that up to 50,000 people die each year as a result of air pollution, according to Defra’s newest figures. In April last year, they won the case, their biggest yet, in the UK Supreme Court – the culmination of a five-year legal battle.

An emerging trend towards contributing positively to society has seen sustainability as the driving force amongst businesses, entrepreneurs and employees when choosing careers. The latest IEMA annual practitioner survey found a 10% rise in job satisfaction among people who moved into sustainable careers indicating that sustainability has become the career change of choice.

Employee health and wellbeing paramount 

This year the focus was on health and wellbeing. In April, a YouGov survey found that more than half of all employees suffer from burnout, severe anxiety, and physical and emotional exhaustion in the workplace. The Awards recognised those organisations across the UK who put staff wellbeing at the forefront of their business strategy in sectors as diverse as buildings, legal battles, climate change and urban planning.

Global Japanese financial firm Nomura accepted the Health and Wellbeing award for its innovative work to recognise their people are their most important assets, and creating a work environment and culture that promotes and sustains all aspects of health and wellbeing.

Nomura caters for more than 3,000 staff in London offices, with GPs, nurses, gyms, personal trainers, a nutritionist and parenting support among the services on offer. Activities such as health weeks and gym challenges are further motivation for staff to maintain good health. Nomura’s offering allows them compete for the best candidates, retain staff and create a better work-life balance for their employees.

The City Of London Corporation’s March 2014 research report, ‘Best Practice in Promoting Employee Health and Wellbeing in the City of London’, emphasises the importance of maintaining employee health in a city which leads the world in global financial services. The nature of the financial services sector – working across international time zones, in a competitive culture – means some employee health issues are more significant than others for the sector.

Nomura’s proactive approach to health and wellbeing is part of a developing workplace trend noted in a 2015 Heart of the City Impact Report. Positively, 90 per cent of respondents – part of the organisation’s Newcomers business membership programme – revealed their senior staff are engaged in supporting the development of health and wellbeing activities to support staff in the workplace.

The dominant winners

Innovative engineering company Siemens took to the stage three times as their London-based global headquarters; ‘The Crystal’ took home the Resource Conservation, Sustainable Buildings and Sustainable Places Awards.  Built in 2012, the impressive building is home to the world’s largest exhibition on the future of cities, the world’s most sustainable events venue, and office space for Siemens.

The Crystal recycles 100% of its waste through a zero-to-landfill system, offers a bicycle scheme, and houses a charging station for electric cars. Siemens’ 360 degree community approach includes a local hiring scheme where front of house jobs are initially advertised exclusively in the borough of Newham, while their community garden and Education Officer – who works with local schools – ensures the local community is supported and benefiting from Siemens presence in the area.

The Sustainable City Awards Trophy

Activist lawyers Client Earth took away the most prestigious award of the evening, the Sustainable City Awards Winner’s trophy that recognises the organisation that best demonstrates a pioneering approach to innovation and leadership in sustainability.

Client Earth, who is committed to securing a healthy planet, brought a major case against the UK government over their ongoing failure to comply with EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – which they should have met in 2010.

The organisation drew attention to the fact that up to 50,000 people die each year as a result of air pollution, according to Defra’s newest figures. In April last year, they won the case, their biggest yet, in the UK Supreme Court – the culmination of a five-year legal battle.

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Jeffrey Mountevans, says: “The UK Sustainable City Awards recognise the sustainability initiatives of organisations big or small, across every sector of business. This year, we recognised firms that are pioneering sustainable business development by putting the health and wellbeing of staff at the forefront of their business agenda. The high calibre of this year’s Awards applicants demonstrate that it’s not enough to tick boxes in the annual report, but that real determination and prioritization – at every level in an organization, and across all activities – is needed to achieve change. It is this commitment that is enabling our sustainable and environmental champions to make a significant impact to the strength and health of our workforce, commerce and communities.”

SUSTAINABLE CITY AWARD WINNERS

AWARD WINNER
AWARD: Sustainable Finance – In association with UKSIF: For innovation and best practice in all areas of sustainable investment and finance that support sustainable economic development, enhance quality of life and safeguard the environment.

 

WINNER: WHEB: An independent and owner-managed specialist investor focused on the opportunities created by the global transition to more sustainable, resource efficient and energy efficient economies.

 

AWARD: The Farsight Award – In association with Gresham College, USS and Z/Yen: For best individual piece of analysis by an investment research institution which integrates traditional financial analysis with longer term issues such as climate change, corporate governance and human capital.

 

WINNER: Deutsche Bank: A leading global investment bank with a strong and profitable private clients franchise.

 

AWARD: Tackling Climate Change – In association with The Institute for Sustainability and the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers: For organisations mitigating the effects of their activities on climate change or adapting their operations to reflect the impact climate change will have on their business.

 

WINNER: Siemens [The Crystal]: The Crystal is a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, the world’s most sustainable events venue and the largest exhibition on the future of cities.

 

AWARD: Sustainable Travel and Transport – In association with Campaign for Better Transport: For innovative schemes which encourage people to make more use of sustainable forms of travel, transport and logistics, or which reduce the impact of traffic and transport on the environment.

 

WINNER: London Borough of Waltham Forest: The City Council representing the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

 

AWARD: Resource Conservation – In association with the Worshipful Company of Launderers and the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators: For organisations that are taking positive steps to improve resource conservation through reducing the consumption of water, gas or electricity.

 

WINNER: Siemens [The Crystal]: The Crystal is a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, the world’s most sustainable events venue and the largest exhibition on the future of cities.

 

AWARD: Building Sustainable Communities (London only) – In association with the Worshipful Company of Patten Makers and the City Bridge Trust: For voluntary organisations that can demonstrate their work makes a tangible difference to the sustainability of their locality by bringing people together, especially from across different communities.

 

WINNER: Age UK

The UK’s largest charity working with older people

 

AWARD: Sustainable Buildings – In association with the CIOB and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors: For excellence and innovation in sustainable building design for new build and refurbishment projects.

 

WINNER: Siemens [The Crystal]: The Crystal is a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, the world’s most sustainable events venue and the largest exhibition on the future of cities.

 

AWARD: Health and Wellbeing – In association with the City of London Health and Wellbeing Board:For organisations that are doing really innovative work to recognise that their people are their most important assets, and creating work environments and cultures that promote and sustain all aspects of health and wellbeing

 

WINNER: Nomura: A global financial services group based in Asia.

 

AWARD: Sustainable Places – In association with British BIDs, the London Sustainability Exchange, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners: For organisations who work to create unique sustainable characters for town centres and industrial parks- not only enhancing the quality of life of all those who visit, work or live there but acting as a significant attractor for business investment.

 

WINNER: Siemens [The Crystal]: The Crystal is a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, the world’s most sustainable events venue and the largest exhibition on the future of cities
AWARD: Responsible Waste Management – In association with the Clean City Awards Scheme: For responsible waste management. Applicants should demonstrate innovative waste management practices particularly with respect to implementing the waste hierarchy of minimising waste, reusing and recycling materials. Judges will also be looking for evidence of how the organisation is tackling wider waste issues, such as compliance with Duty of Care Regulations and engendering pride in the local environment.

 

WINNER: GenEco: A sustainable solutions company offering customers cost effective solutions that transform their waste into renewable energy and nutrient-rich fertiliser.

 

AWARD: Air Quality – In association with Building and Engineering Services Association and Kings College London: For innovation and best practice in reducing emissions of air quality pollutants and mitigating the effects of business activities on local air quality.

 

WINNER: Client Earth: A not-for-profit organisation of activist environmental lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.

 

AWARD: The Sir Peter Parker Award – In association with BCE Awards and WRAP:

For the organisation which best demonstrates leadership in sustainability.

 

WINNER: GenEco: A sustainable solutions company offering customers cost effective solutions that transform their waste into renewable energy and nutrient-rich fertiliser.

 

AWARD: Sustainable City Awards Overall Winner – The organisation that best demonstrates a pioneering approach to innovation and leadership in sustainability will be presented with the Overall Winner’s trophy.

 

WINNER: Client Earth: A not-for-profit organisation of activist environmental lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.

 

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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