UK’s offshore wind sector grows as brands mark World Refill Day: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

Across the UK and the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: UK’s offshore wind sector posts 16% year-on-year increase in jobs

Image: Orsted, Pictured: Wind turbine technicians based out of Grimsby

In late 2020, the Government announced an ambition for the UK to host 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. That target has since been increased to 50GW through the Energy Security Strategy, with the Conservative Party once again favouring offshore wind over onshore wind and solar.

A report published this Monday (13 June) by RenewableUK’s Offshore Wind Industry Council revealed that the number of full-time equivalent roles in the British offshore wind sector has increased by 16% within 12 months. It now hosts 19,6000 direct jobs and 11,500 indirect jobs. Direct roles are solely in offshore wind – for example, specific roles in functions such as planning and maintenance. Indirect jobs are those in the supply chain.

The report forecasts that, by 2030, the industry will host 61,000 direct jobs and 36,000 indirect jobs, if the Government’s targets are to be achieved. Within the same timeframe, the sector is set to attract £155bn of private investment. As well as the overarching targets, the forecast takes into account trends in the growth of the pipeline of offshore wind projects and other enabling policies, like the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme.

For these benefits to be realised, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said, the Government must work with industry “to address skills shortages in areas like electrical engineering and data analysis, so we can boost the number of high-quality green jobs in offshore wind throughout this decade”.

RESOURCES: Brands including The Body Shop and Sainsbury’s mark World Refill Day

Thursday (16 June) was World Refill Day – a campaign spearheaded by UK-based environmental campaign group City To Sea, perhaps best known for its ‘Refill’ work. This workstream has seen more than 30,000 venues across the world signing up to offer visitors free tap water.

While City to Sea marked the occasion with a new Bristol-wide coffee cup reuse and return scheme, other organisations took different approaches. The Body Shop issued an update on its in-store refill schemes for products such as shower gels, confirming that refill stations have been installed in 556 of its stores worldwide. At each of these stores, 20% of shoppers are using this services, with the proportion increasing for customers under 35.

Also in retail, Sainsbury’s launched a refillable version of its own-brand handwash, claiming that shoppers who use the one-litre refill pouches will use 85% less plastic than purchasing four 250ml bottles. The pouches are made using flexible plastic which is not collected  by many councils at kerbside, but which can be returned to Sainsbury’s stores for recycling. Sainsbury’s is aiming to halve the amount of plastic used for packaging by 2025, against a 2017 baseline.

MOBILITY: Scottish Government unveils National Transport Strategy plan, promising 20% reduction in car travel this decade

Transport has been the UK’s highest emitting sector since 2016. In Scotland specifically, domestic transport generated 12 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2019 – more than agriculture and international aviation and shipping combined.

The Scottish Government has this month published a new delivery plan for its National Transport Strategy. First published in 2020, the Strategy lists climate action as a key priority alongside reducing social inequality and improving human health and wellbeing. A key ambition is reducing the number of kilometres collectively travelled by cars in Scotland by 20% by 2030. The new delivery plan details more than 70 actions which will be taken by the end of this financial year to help decrease car use.

Actions include finalizing plans for free bikes for all school children who cannot afford them; introducing low-emissions zones in Scotland’s four largest cities and completing a bus decarbonisation pathway through to 2030. There will also be a new HGV Taskforce launching, modelled on the existing Bus Taskforce, through which industry, the Scottish Government and local councils collaborate. Crucially, the Government has promised a Transport Sector Skills Plan to ensure that the economic and social opportunities of the low-carbon transport transition are seized.

Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “We know that the challenges ahead are significant, and that reducing private car use and transitioning to more walking, wheeling or cycling for day-to-day journeys will pose greater challenges for some. However, our actions aim to seize on the opportunities offered as we journey to net-zero and support the necessary changes to provide for safer, healthier and more enjoyable streets, businesses, neighbourhoods and journeys.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Certified green buildings in Kenya collectively post $5m in annual energy bill savings

This part of the Sustainability Success Stories roundup often highlights one particularly innovative building, like this Danish micro-brewery that was designed for disassembly and reassembly, or Passivhaus-certified leisure centres and student accommodation blocks in the south of England.

This week, however, we’re highlighting a progress report issued by the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) certification scheme, which requires developers to use low-impact building materials and to reduce the in-use energy and water consumption of buildings by at least 20%. It is operated by The International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The IFC has revealed that, since EDGE first launched in Kenya, 22 buildings have achieved certification. Collectively, developers and operators of these developments are saving $5m on their energy and water bills annually.

With the Kenyan Government having mandated all affordable housing projects to certify with EDGE from 2020, the number of developments certified is expected to rise steeply in the coming years. The IMF is seeking to show other developers the economic and social benefits of adopting green building approaches, as well as the environmental benefits.

“Kenya’s Green Building Market is nascent, and the market development has been gradual,” said the IFC’s green building lead for Kenya Dennis Papa Odenyu Quansah.

“The certified green build market was 3% of new builds in 2020 but we are very pleased to see how momentum is gathering in a relatively short period of time with more and more new builds seeking EDGE certification.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: BSI launches certification for evidencing business accessibility   

As we have seen through the UK Government’s Electric Vehicle Strategy, it is vitally important to make sure that low-carbon technologies and systems can be accessed by all. That Strategy includes several measures to require charging network designers, installers and operators to offer services fit for customers with disabilities.

In a bid to push energy, water and finance firms – all of which will be crucial to the net-zero transition – to deliver inclusive services, BSI has this month launched a new Kitemark. To qualify for the Inclusive Service Kitemark, businesses will need to undergo a two-part assessment and to undergo surveillance after certification as well.

During the assessment, businesses will need to evidence how they are identifying vulnerable customers and how they are taking action to ensure their products and services are “available, usable and accessible to all equally”, catering for different vulnerable demographics. They must also offer accessible communications and advice to those who may need support to make “smart, informed choices”.

“Achieving the Inclusive Service Kitemark will demonstrate an organization’s ongoing commitment to offering an inclusive service for all at a critical time when the cost of living is currently soaring and hitting vulnerable consumers particularly hard,” said BSI’s global consumer promise practice director Natasha Bambridge.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Wind is not “for nothing”. But it is a “grab it when you can get it” energy resource, and should be treated as such.
    It can drop to a few MW for days, as it did last year, and must therefore have a backup available.
    Nuclear energy is a most reliable resource, and should be the foundation of, at least, our base load. This would about double its present contribution.
    The viability of small and medium sized reactors shows promise in increasing this contribution.
    This is all dependent a conviction that the use of natural gas in electricity generation is to be restricted in some way. But it is significant CO2 generator, if CO2 is to be denigrated.
    Let us not forget that it is the staff of life.
    And, during millions of years of geological history, CO2 was way above its present level; this level and global temperature do not necessarily go hand in hand.
    Oh Dear.
    Richard Phillips.

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