Nature in boardrooms and British homes with no energy bills: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: UK Export Finance backs offshore wind in Taiwan


Image: Northland Power

Britain’s export credit agency stopped providing support for fossil fuel projects overseas in the 2021-22 financial year and is now striving to reduce the emissions intensity of its power generation and distribution portfolio by 58% by 2030.

This week, UK Export Finance announced its latest renewable energy success story, guaranteeing £380m in financing for one of Asia’s largest offshore wind projects – the 1GW Hai Long offshore wind farm in Taiwan. The financing is being provided on the basis that developers Mitsui & Co and Northland Power procure materials, goods and services worth £130m+ from the UK.

It is hoped that the wind farm will enter full commercial operations in either late 2025 or early 2026, supporting Taiwan’s ambition to bring 15GW of offshore wind online by 2035.

UK Export Finance chief Tim Reid said: “Clean energy projects like Hai Long are a priority for UK Export Finance as we engage with global efforts to reach net-zero. With the recent OECD Arrangement modernisation increasing the range of support which we can offer for climate-friendly projects, we can expect to see and support more multi-agency transactions like this in the future that will benefit British businesses.”

RESOURCES: Office furniture subscription service unveiled in London


The provision of products as a service is increasingly popular not only because it can reduce waste, but because it gives customers – whether they are individuals or businesses – upfront cost savings a greater deal of flexibility. Things provided as a service range from lighting from Signify to children’s bikes from Bike Club.

Now, British office-based businesses will have the option of taking on flexible monthly subscription plans for furniture which cover installation, repairs and upgrades. The service, called ‘Koru’, is being pioneered by London-based design agency Studio Elk and could be particularly useful for businesses with ever-changing needs amid the post-lockdown return to the office.

Used furniture will be refurbished and redistributed if possible or disassembled for material recovery at the end of its life.

Studio Elk hopes the service could help divert from landfill some of the 1.2 million office desks and 1.8 million office chairs that are wasted annually, according to WRAP figures.

The firm’s founder and creative director Tony Elkington said: “We developed Koru to demonstrate that businesses can deliver greater value to their customers and unlock tangible commercial benefits, while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint and waste. This shift in business mindset is crucial for turning sustainability from an obligation into a strategic advantage.”

MOBILITY: Bannister Transport eyes 40 electric refrigerated trailers


As a rule of thumb, the heavier a road vehicle is, the harder it is to electrify. This challenge only becomes greater when that vehicle needs to be chilled or temperature-controlled.

A success story here comes from logistics firm Bannister Transport, which intends to transition its entire fleet of 40 refrigerated trailers to versions that are entirely electric, powered by batteries and on-vehicle solar panels. Solar should play a bigger role, providing energy for the fleet 80% of the time.

It will use transport refrigeration units from Sunswap, which claims it provides the only zero-emission units of this kind globally.

Bannister Transport posted 87kg of carbon savings during a two-week trial of one trailer in September. It is foreseeing 2.4 kilotonnes of CO2 savings over a ten-year period once all 40 units are deployed.

Sunswap’s chief executive Michael Lowe said: “Seeing innovators like Bannister Transport embrace our purpose-built electric refrigeration technology is tremendously exciting. Their commitment to transition their entire fleet to Sunswap is a bold statement to the benefit we can deliver.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Bellway and Octopus partner to develop homes with no energy bills


UK-based energy supplier Octopus is aiming to work with developers and housing associations to deliver 50,000 homes across the world with no energy bills for at least five years by 2025.

These homes will need to be energy efficient and removed from the gas grid thanks to electric cooking systems and air-source heat pumps (pictured above). They will also have rooftop solar panels and a battery for storing the generated energy. All assets will be optimized by Octopus’s digital Kraken platform. Around 1,000 homes have been completed so far.

This week, housebuilder Bellway announced a long-term partnership with Octopus. It will put its first homes with zero energy bills on the market this December in Stafford and, next year, a further 250 in Bedfordshire will go up for sale.

Octopus’s director of the zero bills homes project Michael Cottrell said gaining Bellway’s support for the scheme is a “momentous occasion for sustainable living”.

The news came shortly after Bellway won a Building Innovation Award for its ‘Future Home’ concept. The three-bedroom detached property sits within a climate-controlled champer at the University of Salford. It has been tested for energy efficiency in extreme weather conditions and temperatures ranging from 40C to -20C.

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: House of Hackney appoints ‘mother nature’ and ‘future generations’ as board members


Last year, beauty product brand Faith In Nature became the world’s first business to add ‘nature’ as a board member. Creative director Simeon Rose said the brand made this change to “give nature an active voice and vote in the decision-making process”.

Now, British luxury homeware and lifestyle company House of Hackney has followed suit, appointing two new board members in the form of ‘mother nature’ and ‘future generations’. The brand worked with Lawyers for Nature to appoint a legal representative for these concepts to the board of directors, in the form of Lawyers for Nature co-founder Brontie Ansell.

The intention is that in any decision-making process, board members will be implored to “fully consider the future of a liveable and thriving planet”.

Ansell said she will “consult a wide network of experts as and when required” to “avoid bias” and “provide a truly ethical view of the business and all decisions made”.

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