2011 Successes and 2012 Resolutions
In News

2011 Successes and 2012 Resolutions

Jan 4, 2012 | No Comments

Over 50 members responded to our recent survey, highlighting some of their most effective carbon cutting projects in 2011 and those projects planned for 2012.

Some of the successful projects for 2011 highlighted by members include:

  • The National Trust installed biomass boilers.
  • Bristol Water installed 300 kW of Solar PV at their treatment works.
  • Hydrock installed ground source heating.
  • Bristol University implemented voltage optimisation on sites.
  • Avon Fire Service invested in boiler upgrades.
  • Gregg Latchams saved energy by turning down and making alterations to their thermostats.
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust installed valve and pipe insulation.
  • The Ethical Property Company installed electronic Thermostatic Radiator Valves.
  • Sustain IT installed an energy monitor so that staff could visualise energy consumption.
  • Buro Happold reduced travel by using HD collaboration tools (video conferencing).
  • Bristol City Council saved energy by switching off street lights.

Some of the New Year’s resolutions that repeatedly cropped up from members were:

  • Tackling lighting consumption (e.g. by installing LEDs, sensors and switching off).
  • More thorough monitoring to understand the energy data better.
  • Reviewing IT (e.g. server virtualisation, using thin clients and data centre rationalisation).
  • More sustainable travel – particularly fleet improvements and encouraging more cycling.
  • Engaging staff – many people identified this one as being important this year.
  • Reducing waste and increasing recycling efforts.
  • Obtaining ISO 14001 environmental management certification.

With so much great experience in the group, 2012 presents a great opportunity to exchange experiences between members on what’s worked for you.

Green ICT Animates at Aardman

Green ICT Animates at Aardman

Dec 2, 2011 | No Comments

This was our first event aiming to tackle the subject of Green ICT. Set in Aardman Animations’ in-house cinema, we heard from Howard Arnault-Ham (Aardman), Jonathan Tapp (Capgemini) and Chris Priest (Bristol University).

Howard explained that their motivation to pursue Green ICT was supported by a strong business case of cost savings and increased resilience.  He also expanded on Aardman’s IT requirements, their current energy saving projects and thoughts for the future:

  • Server Virtualisation – They have managed to save 45 tonnes of CO2 and £10,660 in electricity annually and at least £50,000 on hardware by virtualising their servers. This has also resulted in higher resilience to their system.
  • High Density Disk Arrays – High density disk arrays have saved space, reducing the need for cooling, and also improved efficiency. This has amounted to savings of 20 tonnes of CO2 and monetary savings of £5,433 per year on electricity.
  • Audio and video conferencing – They have been using video and audio conferencing tools more often to eliminate some of their travel.
  • Future Plans – In the future they plan on exploring the options that will enable more home working (therefore reducing the carbon emissions from commuting), upgrading the internal network bandwidth and look into putting more systems in the virtual space.

Jonathan took us through some of the concepts surrounding Green ICT and emphasised the point that in order to effectively manage your IT energy usage and identify where carbon savings can be made, effective metering and monitoring must be carried out.

  • Green ICT vs. Greening ICT – For Capgemini, Greening ICT is defined as making existing infrastructures more sustainable and Green ICT is ICT acquired to enhance sustainability and enable sustainable practice.
  • Outsourcing – He touched on the ownership of carbon emissions and scopes, putting it into the context of ICT – would it be better to outsource data storage needs elsewhere, to those who can deal with it more efficiently?  
  • Infrastructure Optimisation – He talked about thinking carefully about when to replace older, less efficient hardware to save energy. On-going servicing of existing hardware may add significant amounts of carbon to your footprint, incurred through transportation. It is important to consider both the carbon costs of hardware already in use and the manufacture and shipping costs involved in producing new goods to make a judgement on when to replace existing equipment.

Chris further explored the concept of using ICT as an enabling tool to cut carbon emissions. Some of the main practical applications for organisations included:

  • Business Management Systems – Using ICT to control your business management systems and effectively analyse the data reports.
  • Creating online services – Doing this removes the need for paper use, travel and can reduce the need for labour (all of which are also harder to calculate carbon costs for than ICT energy costs).
  • Online marketing – Again this eliminates a large amount of paper and other materials needing to be produced, distributed and disposed of.

He also proposed some more creative and interesting uses of ICT to cut carbon that could be adapted for many different applications:

  • Decision support - Providing information and storing preferences online to generate tailored guidance and better decision making in situations where the users’ actions can have an impact on their carbon usage.
  • Augmented Community – Using social media tools to communicate, market and publicise ideas and concepts which can lead to different behaviours and shifts in opinion.

The following Q&A session showed that many of the attendees could see merit in many of these solutions, but that many of these changes would need careful consideration (concerns of reducing person to person interaction, replacing people with ICT solutions, incorrect calculations of carbon life cycles). The ideas discussed during the evening had different value to different organisations and the presentations, particularly the latter, showed that ICT has the potential to provide limitless ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Read more Green ICT tips here.

Tips for Low Carbon ICT

Tips for Low Carbon ICT

Nov 24, 2011 | No Comments

Ahead of our first event on ICT, we have come up with some of the basics that can help you reduce your ICT carbon footprint. We’ll hear directly from the experts at our next event, with Aardman Animations, and get the opportunity to develop our thinking in this topic further. A good starting point is to always to start with the measurement, and find out exactly what’s drawing the energy on your site. Here we have compiled a list of simple steps that can be taken to reduce your ICT footprint:

  1. Alter options and settings on your existing equipment to optimise efficiency and cut out unnecessary usage:
    1. Turn off equipment when it is not being used and utilise power management settings e.g. set a predetermined time for equipment to be shut down after office hours.
    2. Dim the colours on your screen – bright colours can use up to 20% more energy than darker ones.
    3. Use sleep mode when inactive (again, set a defined period of time for this to occur automatically).
    4. Turn off Bluetooth and wireless settings when not being used.
    5. Set your printer settings to draft, black and white and duplex as default.
  2. Behavioural changes to bring about savings:
    1. Reduce the amount and size of emails sent. Sending and storage of these emails requires significant amounts of energy, so regular housekeeping e.g. deleting unwanted emails and files, removing unnecessary attachments and sharing files more efficiently can reduce this.
    2. Extending the refresh and replacement cycle of computers can reduce your company’s environmental impact and reduce your capital costs by 20-40%. Money that would have been spent replacing computers can then be invested into other green ICT project that may have been otherwise unaffordable. (You may think that time spent repairing faults is costly, and you may as well purchase new, but consider the time spent setting up and reconfiguring new equipment). Try to avoid fixed term deals and cater more specifically to your needs.
    3. Using tools such as video and audio conferencing can eliminate the need for business travel.
    4. Encourage staff to work from laptops rather than desktops, which use on average 41% more energy, and use only one screen/monitor.
  3. Purchase newer and more efficient equipment and install better server systems:
    1. Use 80 Plus Gold Standard power supplies. 80 Plus is the standard for power supplies in computers and requires that the computer power supply to be 80% or greater efficient at 20, 50, and 100%.
    2. Use Energy Star certified equipment, which has to comply with more stringent energy efficiency criteria.
    3. Ensure servers are designed specifically for particular applications – ask your server vendor for help with this (can reduce energy usage by up to 30%)
    4. Use blade servers – a stripped down server computer with a modular design optimised to minimise the use of physical space and energy. They consume about 10% less power than rack mounted servers.
  4. Data centre design and cooling:
    1. Ensure that your data centre is designed only to provide enough space, power and cooling adequate to your needs. Over-provisioning will be inefficient and sufficient monitoring can help you to avoid this.
    2. Optimise temperature and humidity setting.
    3. Reduce server cooling demand by zoning your data centre for different temperature requirements and arrange equipment in parallel “hot aisles” and “cool aisles”.
    4. Make sure power draw from servers is proportionate to utilisation e.g. can you consolidate multiple servers that are running for small numbers of users?
    5. Consider server virtualisation – this reduces the amount of servers needed and can increase server utilisation to between 60-80%.
    6. Consider re-using waste heat produced by servers e.g. using heat pumps to recycle.
    7. Consider implementing fresh-air cooling.

If this interests you and you want to look more in depth, check out Bristol’s Green Addict site for more information.

For a good green ICT “how to” guide (identifying, measuring and looking forward) take a look at this report.

University Hospitals Bristol

University Hospitals Bristol

Nov 23, 2011 | No Comments

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe and a major contributor to the public sector’s carbon footprint. Collectively it has been set some ambitious targets, with the organisation as a whole to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% (on 1990 levels) by 2050 and an interim target of 10% reduction (on 2007 levels) by 2015. We took a look at how University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust is looking to achieve these targets.


In 2009/2010 University Hospitals Bristol was recorded as being responsible for a carbon footprint to the size of 24,000 tonnes of CO2, with a utilities and waste bill adding up to £4,083,053!

It seems there is plenty of opportunity for improvement but the Trust faces some challenges when tackling its carbon footprint. For example, the estate contains older buildings and has spatial difficulties,  meaning that more sustainable energy sources are unlikely to be used, with some more carbon intensive sources (oil burning generators) being installed to ensure a resilient backup supply. In addition, 65% of the footprint is down to procurement, (goods, services and pharmaceuticals) meaning that the majority of the Trust’s emissions are scope 3 and therefore more difficult to reduce.

However, they have made a really positive start to achieving the 10% cuts. Between 2010 and 2011, the trust has allocated £900,000 to put towards improvements. The following steps have already been taken:

  • Appointing and training over 200 “Green Champions”. The Green Champions raise awareness throughout the NHS workforce by passing on their gained knowledge.
  • Installing lighting and heating controls and upgrades. This included adding sensors to those areas less frequently used and adding controls to the boilers to reduce the amount of energy being consumed.
  • Using steam meters to monitor energy usage
  • Using CHP (Combined heat and power) and looking to expand to maximise efficiency
  • Making physical improvements to the fabric of the buildings. This included installing better insulation
  • Optimising building management systems

An independent survey of the Trust, performed by Sustain, has shown that these improvements are already having an effect, reporting that energy performance as recorded by the display energy certificates is up 25% on the previous year. These projects are also expected to deliver annual savings of over 415 tonnes of CO2, which amounts to a cost saving of around £150,000.

Proposed actions for the future include:

  • Energy data to be displayed around the hospital to raise awareness
  • Embed sustainable practice into work and decision making by training the workforce with consideration also given in future policy and procurement choices
  • Erect a weather station to promote interest in climate conditions
  • Regulate heating and cooling systems to provide a more uniform temperature to enable better control e.g. by moving thermostats to more appropriate places.
  • Install PV solar power and use solar hot water
  • Install flue gas heat recovery to capture the heat being lost from the boiler house

The hospital also wants to continue working with staff to raise awareness and motivate them to take up the green cause. They are following Bristol University’s example by taking up the Green Impact Scheme, which was launched on the 28th September. The Scheme has been successfully running in universities across the country and is now being piloted in Bristol Royal Infirmary. Participants are required to sign up in groups and work through tasks in a workbook. Completion of these tasks, which are designed to be of little or no cost, will then result in Bronze, Silver or Gold recognition. Hopefully next year we will see high numbers of Gold Awards being dished out!

Make Your Numbers Work for You

Make Your Numbers Work for You

Nov 15, 2011 | No Comments

This event was held at Burges Salmon and entitled “make your numbers work for you”. We saw videoed interviews from the Avon Fire Service, Burges Salmon and Wessex Water on their priorities, their challenges, their ambitions and advice for others.

The main issues that were raised in this session were how to measure and get hold of the data and what to do with it. It was also voiced that another difficulty was communicating the data effectively. Here are the tips we came up with after an interesting discussion:

Getting the Data:

  1. Start with measuring your energy use (for most this will be electricity and gas meter readings) as that is where you will find the majority of your CO2 footprint.
  2. If the meter data is not easily accessible or currently within your service charge, be persistent requesting the information from your landlord. If you still can’t get it, consider metering yourself (there are members who have gone down that route).
  3. Use our calculator to measure your footprint or a sector specific initiative (e.g. Legal Sector Alliance) to get an  understanding of the breakdown of your footprint.
  4. Get your data automated (through smart metering) or where possible get someone else to compile your data for you (e.g. for business travel your taxi company, travel agency).
  5. Sub-meter your premises if you want a breakdown of electricity use on your site. If not, use a simple monitor, turn everything off to find out your minimum (e.g. your servers will still be running) and gradually add lighting etc. to see use.
  6. If sub-metering or monitoring is not possible, use sector or building specific assumptions available on the internet. These can provide a good starting point and you can identify the higher areas of spend to be targeted.
  7. Involve the right people. If you’re looking at reducing electricity or gas on site, involve the people that can really make a difference like the security (switch off at night), facilities and maintenance people. Along with installing some of the right technology, you might be able to make more of a difference than trying to get everyone on board.
  8. Use the WECC events and membership to spot similar businesses who have faced similar problems – how did they deal with it?
  9. Technology is advancing all the time: whether it is self-metering, or automated metering services, the chances are the costs are lower than you think and pay-back periods will be relatively short. But again, ask those who have done it for recommendations and advice.
  10. Those organisations that do not employ somebody with a specific environmental role can find it particularly difficult to know where to get started and how to progress. Don’t be overwhelmed by the immensity of it. Try something, get started, get small successes and then try measuring something else. Perhaps concentrate on different areas/appliances or monitoring over time (days of week and weekend, or half-hourly to spot anomalies against work hours).

Using the Data:

  1. Do report back to people, calculate your savings in simple terms, and celebrate successes!
  2. Representing the results graphically can more easily highlight anomalies and target areas for reduction.
  3. Accept that you will need to present your data in different forms to different audiences, both internally and externally, so ensure it is easy to manipulate. Different audiences will have different interests – think in terms of cost savings, higher efficiencies and reputational values.
  4. Share your information in interesting ways e.g. what’s your CO2 per head? Benchmark yourself against others in your sector.
  5. An easy way to convince sceptics is to calculate the cost of action versus the cost of inaction. How much are you wasting by doing nothing and what could be done with that capital instead?

The issues raised in the event’s discussion touched on many aspects covered in some of the previous WECC events. Some particularly relevant ones can be found here:

The Carbon Trust website has loads of helpful guides and sector specific tools to help you get your head around the data and contextualise it.


More great interesting and informative videos on our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WoECarbonChallenge

WECC Members Top the CRC League Table
In News

WECC Members Top the CRC League Table

Nov 10, 2011 | No Comments

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme have published its first CRC performance league table. Congratulations to the West of England Carbon Challenge members who reached a place in the top 250! Wessex Water (30), University of Bath (30), North Somerset Council (129), UWE (160), Bristol City Council (173) and the University of Bristol (230).

For those members who haven’t followed it, the CRC is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme to cover all organisations using more than 6,000 MWh per year of electricity (which amounts to an approximate annual bill of £500,000). League table performance was judged on three criteria:

  1. Early Action Metric: 50% of this is based on what percentage of your organisation’s electricity and gas readings are supplied by voluntary automatic meter readings (AMR). The other half is based on what proportion of CRC emissions are certified under the Carbon Trust Standard.
  2. Absolute Metric: the percentage change in your organisation’s emissions compared to the average of the previous five years.
  3. Growth Metric: the percentage change in emissions per unit turnover, compared to the average of the previous five years.

Currently, the league table largely concentrates on whether energy data is being measured. In subsequent years the proportion of marks given for early action will drop off, allowing for a higher proportion of points to be given for actively reducing carbon emissions. This year, around 40% of organisations listed on the table have not scored anything on the first category, meaning that they have failed to monitor their energy. However, the Energy Efficiency Scheme has been criticised for not encompassing reductions before the scheme began and not taking into account all factors and sector specific practices.

It is great to see several of the big WECC members up at the top end of the table, but a shame that so many companies have not capitalised on the opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions and enjoy the reputational benefits. Hopefully the league table will drive these companies to improve and we may see a more accurate representation of efforts in future years.

Find the full league table here

Read some of the analysis here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/08/manchester-united-energy-efficiency or http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/2123487/crc-performance-league-table-reaction







Oct 31, 2011 | No Comments

Astra Zeneca PharmaceuticalsAvlon Works near Bristol employs around 280 people and is the key manufacturing facility for the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for two of AstraZeneca‘s biggest brands:

  • Crestor (used to lower cholesterol in patients with high blood cholesterol)
  • Seroquel (for the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia).

Avlon operates 24-hours a day, 365 days a year providing essential stock for the product supply chain. This requires continuous utilities and energy provision for heating, chilling, ventilation, inerting and control to ensure the site maintains safe systems and processes.

Utilities used across site include water, steam, compressed air, nitrogen, electricity and natural gas. Some are imported while others are generated within the site boundaries. These utilities are all necessary to allow the validated manufacture of pharmaceuticals meeting the strictest regulatory requirements. As a result Avlon is one of the largest energy and water consumers in the area.

Energy Consumption

The primary source of heat for manufacturing and support services is steam. This is generated and distributed from a natural gas fired boiler house – using around 45,000MW of gas per annum. The site consumes around 35,000MW of electrical power per annum, using this to run all manufacturing operations and support services.

In March 2010 a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant was installed that provided 2.8MW continuous electrical output, plus 1.4 tonnes per hour of steam. The CHP now provides 2/3rds of the site’s on-going power requirements, drastically reducing the amount of electricity required from the national electricity grid network. It also generates 20% of the site’s steam heating demand.

Benefits of Combined Heat and Power

As expected, the increase in gas to drive the engines has resulted in an increase in local CO2 emissions. At first glance this appears to be detrimental to the site’s environmental performance. However, the overall benefits of local CHP need to be considered.

In principle, onsite generation of power is much more efficient than using electricity imported from the grid when waste heat can be used locally. The CHP plant does this by recovering the heat generated by the engines through a waste heat boiler.

The CHP engines also need to be cooled. However, instead of that heat being blown off and being lost to the atmosphere, it is used to help warm boiler feed water.indus

Recovering this energy makes on-site CHP much more efficient than consuming electricity provided from a power station. Up to 2/3rds of the energy used in a power station is lost usually in a cloud of steam seen rising from their cooling towers. Recovering the heat from local CHP plants offsets the amount of gas and as a result reduces the actual emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx, etc that would have otherwise been emitted to provide the site with the same amount of energy.

Improvements Delivered at Avlon

Site energy costs have been significantly reduced, helping to keep the manufacturing facility competitive with European and Far East manufacturers, and the introduction of CHP has delivered an overall reduction of over 4,000 Tonnes of CO2 per year allowing the site to again exceed its corporate energy and sustainability targets (a reduction of over 13%).

It has also ensured the site continues to deliver energy efficiency improvements far in excess of those volunteered through its Climate Change Agreement with the UK Government and Environmental Regulators. Investment in technologies like CHP require long term commitment and demonstrate Avlon’s continued drive in reducing its Environmental Impact through sustainable methods and practices.

Out of Town and Sustainable?

Out of Town and Sustainable?

Oct 21, 2011 | No Comments

 The Science Park, which opened in September, is the realisation of a long term project designed to provide a sustainable and conveniently located hub for business innovation. Richard Pitkin, Director of the Innovation Centre of the Science Park, presented to us their initial objectives and subsequent achievements.

The original project mission statement states: “A flagship project with a strong focus on sustainability in both the construction and in-use stages of the scheme.”

The Science Park has been designed to accommodate different business needs, including smaller office spaces, meeting rooms and a larger space allowing for bespoke arrangements. The finish feels open and fresh and communal spaces encourage networking and a community atmosphere, ideal surroundings for nurturing business start-ups. So it has hit the spot as far as providing a venue conducive to good business, but how did they incorporate sustainability into the design?

  • Provision of green travel options
  • Proximity of cycle track and the provision of electric bikes
  • Several bus routes linked to transport hubs
  • Electric plug in points and electric cars for hire (in planning)
  • An integrated energy centre with biomass boilers (using locally sourced fuel), solar thermal hot water system, high efficiency turbo-core chillers for cooling. There is also a PV array on the roofs of the building
  • Lighting – low energy and movement sensitive lighting controls
  • Traffic light indicators on windows which display when windows should be opened or closed
  • An under-floor displacement ventilation system provides low energy cooling to office areas
  • The design of the Forum, the communal meeting space, allows cool air to drop from the ceiling and be distributed
  • Installing audio visual and video conferencing systems in meeting rooms will reduce the need for journeys to meetings
  • Green features of the site have been incorporated and developed including an ecological corridor and space for a
    communal garden

Simon Williams, of Willmott Dixon, described their role as contractors and how they fulfilled the brief successfully.

During the project, Willmott Dixon updated the initial design to comply with more recent legislation and improve sustainability features of the building, for example the wind turbines which were part of the initial design were replaced with PV, and the high efficiency chillers to provide a better output for the site. While involved in the construction of the site, they also implemented several practices to reduce their impact to the environment and support the local economy:

  • They encouraged sustainable travel options and car sharing, and logged all trips to the site
  • They employed local people where possible – 40% lived within a 30 mile radius of the site, 10% higher than their target
  • 40% of materials were sourced from within a 35 mile radius
  • They used sustainably sourced materials where possible e.g. all wood on the site is FSC certified
  • All excavated material was retained and reused on site and excavated rock was used to provide hardcore for new roadways
  • They worked with suppliers to reduce excessive packaging e.g. stop the use of shrink wrap
  • They recycled as much material as possible (reached 92%)

There were several key aspects of the build which resonated most with attendees, points which could be incorporated into both new builds or retrofit projects:

  • The installation of shower facilities and bike racks to encourage cycling or running to work
  • The 3 electric cars (and charging points) and 2 electric bikes enable sustainable means of travel for meeting with clients elsewhere.
  • The installation of 200m of solar PV to provide renewable energy
  • The effort put in by both contractors and project managers to work with suppliers to reduce transportation, packaging and waste
  • Displaying energy consumption to raise awareness

People were keen to learn more about:

  • The costs of the project in comparison to others of similar specification
  • How Willmott Dixon had managed to measure the site data
  • The source of supply for the Biomass boiler