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WHEB Wins First Green Oscar

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Last week 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.

WHEB Group, based in Mayfair, received the Sustainable Finance Award for their FP WHEB Sustainability Fund – one of the first public equity funds to be qualified on the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) ImpactBase database as an impact fund.

The Fund invests exclusively in listed companies around the world that meet WHEB’s definition of providing ‘Solutions to Sustainability Challenges’ and evidently, these companies experience higher revenue growth than the wider market. This has seen the Group invest in a unique combination of social and environmental themes including cleaner energy, education, environmental services, healthcare, resource efficiency, safety, sustainable transport, water management and well-being.

The FP WHEB Sustainability Fund has outperformed benchmarks and, from an environmental perspective, the fund’s carbon footprint is approximately 91 tonnes of CO2e per £1 million invested in the fund compared with 282 tonnes of CO2e per £1m invested in the MSCI World.

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 are 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: 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

WINNER: GenEco: A sustainable solutions company offering customers cost effective solutions that transform their 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. 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 notfor-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 notfor-profit organisation of activist environmental lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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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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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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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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