Manchester’s new ‘green’ office and an F1 net-zero pledge: 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 sustainability leadership.

Across the UK and across 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: Developers forge ahead with 1GW solar portfolio in Greece


Renewables met more than half of Greece’s electricity needs for the first time in the first half of last year. The nation is significantly scaling solar as it aims to cut emissions by 55% by 2030, against a 1990 baseline.

This week, energy majors RWE and PPC took a final investment decision on a new 450MWp solar farm, Orcheio dei Amynteo, in Western Macedonia. The array will be sited on a former lignite mine and is expected to deliver first power by the end of 2025.

Along with the other eight large-scale solar projects that the two firms are developing in the region, the total pipeline stands at almost 1GW.

PPC Renewables’ chief executive Konstantinos Mavros said:” “We are pleased to announce the final investment decision for yet another significant solar project in Greece, marking a crucial step forward in our commitment to sustainable clean energy. The collaboration… underscores our shared dedication to fostering Greece’s energy transition.”

RESOURCES: New Balance adds shoe resale platform to US website


More than 22 billion pairs of shoes are thrown away each year. Because they are multi-material and often constructed using glues, most pairs are challenging to recycle and 95% end up in landfills.

Sneaker brand New Balance has this week launched a resale and trade-in platform to its website in the US. Customers are able to trade in gently used shoes via post or in-store, for waterless cleaning and resale. Archive is managing the take-back platform, bringing experience from similar schemes at Sandro, Maje, the North Face and other brands.

New Balance will also be able to sell returned shoes or ex-display pairs through this platform.

New Balance’s director of sustainability John Stokes said: “We know the footwear industry has a significant environmental impact, including too many products ending up in a landfill. There are many things that have to shift. Launching Reconsidered is one piece of the puzzle with a program objective to help extend product life for some of our product and get the most from what is already made.”

MOBILITY: Couriers collaborate for zero-emission deliveries in London


According to PostTag, the ‘last mile’ part of deliveries in Europe can account for up to half of delivery-related emissions. For last-mile delivery providers in London, cutting carbon can also cut costs through the avoidance of the Congestion Charge and ULEZ charges.

To support couriers in making the switch to zero-emission options, the Cross River Partnership (CRP) this week hosted an informal forum at the University of Westminster. It was attended not only by couriers but also representatives from local authorities, business improvement districts and strategic agencies.

CRP claims the event was the first of its kind for the sector. It developed the event following feedback from local councils and couriers, emphasisng the need for collaboration to scale positive impacts.

CRP’s co-chair of the board, Cllr Mary Durcan, said: “These issues can’t be solved by any one organisation alone. It needs all of us in this room to come together… This event will lead to lots of great conversations and help to create more partnerships working with the public and private sectors in London.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: 12-storey green office block completed in Greater Manchester


Savills estimates that only 28% of the office stock in the UK’s largest cities has at least one environmental sustainability certification. This proportion has grown significantly in recent years, partly due to enhanced sustainability demands from tenants, but there remains much to do in terms of both retrofitting and ensuring new builds are innovative.

One innovative building, the 12-storey ‘Eden’ office block in Salford, recently announced practical completion. The block is aiming for the highest possible NABERS UK Design Reviewed Target Rating (5.5 stars) and has been built in line with the UK Green Buildings Council’s recommendations for sustainable buildings for 2030-35. Developers Muse and ECF are also looking towards WELL certification.

Located on a former surface car park, the building features insulation, cooling and heating developed to Passivhaus principles. Other built-in features include repurposed building materials which have helped to cut embodied carbon by around one-third; heat systems served by air-source heat pumps; and the UK’s largest living wall on an office block, comprising more than 350,000 plants and irrigated using rainwater harvested from the building’s room.

Tenants at the building will be signed up to green leases, under which they are required to do their bit on energy efficiency, emissions and waste management. Accountancy firm BDO and law firm TLT are among the block’s first tenants.

Muse’s managing director for the North West, Phil Marsden, said: “What started as an ambition to build the UK’s most sustainable and environmentally considerate commercial building became so much more. We take our learnings from Eden onto our future projects where we strive to do even better.”

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team leads competitors in net-zero pledge


Formula 1 (F1) set a 2030 net-zero target for its operations in 2019 and subsequently baselined its emissions for the first time. Each of F1’s ten teams will need to innovate to deliver their share of emissions cuts under the series’ overarching plans.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas  F1 team last year revealed that it is aiming to be the first motorsports team to have emissions targets verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative, in line with its 1.5C pathway and also its long-term Net-Zero Standard.

Building on this, the team has this week signed The Climate Pledge in a first for the motorsport industry. The pledge was co-founded in 2019 by Amazon and Global Optimism and now convenes more than 450 organisations in a joint commitment to reach net-zero by 2040.

Signatories are also required to set and regularly report against interim emissions goals.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team’s head of sustainability Alice Ashpitel said the move “consolidates” existing carbon strategies. She added: “We have already taken important steps towards Net Zero through our biofuel initiatives and our investment in Sustainable Aviation Fuel. With sustainability embedded throughout our team, we are on track to meet our targets and helping our suppliers to go further and faster in achieving theirs.”

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