Shenzhen's e-bus network and 'climate-positive' homes: The sustainability success stories of the week
As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.
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, mobility, built environment and business leadership.
From a “climate-positive” and “hurricane-proof” housing development in Florida, to a huge rooftop solar array at London Kings Cross Station, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.
ENERGY: Network Rail reaps rewards from rooftop solar array at London Kings Cross
Network Rail has taken several actions to make its operations more sustainable in recent times, from pledging to electrify its van fleet by 2028, to banning the supply of single-use plastic cups and cutlery by retailers at the stations it manages.
The transport firm this week revealed that it had prevented 40 tonnes of CO2 emissions since installing a 240kWp rooftop PV system at London Kings Cross Station in 2012. Installed as part of a £500m redevelopment of the station in 2012, the array has generated more than one million kWh to date. Posting an update on the array's progress on Friday (9 November), Network Rail revealed that using the array had generated a £125,000 reduction in energy bills over the past six years.
"Network Rail is committed to being as efficient and sustainable as possible," Network Rail’s route managing director Rob McIntosh said."The initiatives we introduced at King's Cross during the refurbishment are paying real dividends both in terms of reducing our carbon footprint and in saving us money."
RESOURCES: Tesco becomes first UK supermarket to stock reusable sanitary products
While mentions of plastic waste tend to conjure up images of straws, cups or carrier bags, less focus has been placed on the importance of feminine hygiene products in plastic phase-outs. Sanitary towels, for example, can contain up to 90% plastic, with the average woman using around 10,000 in her lifetime.
In a bid to drive plastic reductions outside of its own packaging range, Tesco has moved to stock a range of reusable menstrual cups, plastic-free sanitary towels and organic cotton tampons – a move it claims is the first of its kind by a UK supermarket. The products, made by Welsh startup TOTM, are housed in recyclable cardboard boxes and wrapped in biodegradable packaging. The range has also been certified as cruelty-free by the Vegan Society.
“It is great that Tesco is taking a step in the right direction by supplying TOTM's range of eco-friendly period products across stores nationwide,” green campaigner Ella Daish said. “This is incredibly important because it raises awareness of the environmental issues and gives customers access to a much-needed choice that benefits all.”
MOBILITY: Shenzhen electrifies entire bus network
The electric vehicle (EV) revolution continues to gather pace, with sales of EVs widely expected to account for more than half of all new car sales globally by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). But as carmakers move at a pace to electrify their portfolios, BNEF has predicted that the advance of e-buses will be even more rapid than that of electric cars, with 84% of new buses sold worldwide set to be electric by 2030.
An early sign of this trend can be seen in Shenzhen, China, which this week became the first major city in the world to fully electrify its bus fleet. The city, which is located in the Guangdong province and is home to almost 13 million people, now plays host to more than 16,000 e-buses. In order to support the buses, operator Western Bus Group has installed more than 30 charging poles at its main depot this year, bringing the city’s total charging pole stock to 8,000.
Following the success of the e-buses, Shenzhen’s public transport administration bureau has set a new target of replacing 100% of the city’s taxis with EVs by 2020, up from the current proportion of 62.5%.
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: ‘Climate-positive’ housing development unveiled in Florida
Amid calls for ministers to implement policies that ensure all new buildings are built to carbon-neutral standards by 2030, construction firm Pearl Homes has this week unveiled a project proving that sustainable buildings can be produced and sold at a cost parity to traditional homes.
On Thursday (8 November), the Australian firm launched a 148-home development in Florida that it claims is hurricane-proof, carbon-neutral and climate-positive. Each of the homes is equipped with rooftop solar panels, a battery storage system, a smart thermostat and an EV charger. Located in Manatee County and called Hunter Point, the development has achieved LEED Platinum certification and received praise from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).
"'Pearl Homes' vision of increasing access to sustainable homes is directly aligned with USGBC's vision to achieve green buildings for all within a generation," USGBC president Mahesh Ramanujam said. “This community will serve as a model for others to follow for decades to come."
Pearl Homes is now planning to begin a second development, comprised of 720 apartments, in the same district in Florida.
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Business giants to support new SASB reporting standards
Following warnings from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures' (TCFD) that corporates must move to integrate environmental information to their financial filings, a group of 11 big-name companies this week pledged to adopt a new sustainability reporting standard in a bid to drive the uptake of standardised and integrated reporting.
The likes of Kellogg, Diageo, Nike and General Motors became the first corporates to adopt the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) new industry-specific accounting standards on Wednesday (8 November), in a move they claim will give clarity to an investment community which is becoming increasingly concerned with green finance issues.
The standards include a commitment to report on all sustainability issues which have a “financially material effect” on signatory organisations – and to measure the positive or negative ramifications of these issues in a monetary way. A further requirement is the disclosure of any fines received for breaching environmental legislation to investors.
SASB chairman Jeffrey Hales dubbed the adoption of the standards, which have received backing from investors with $26trn in assets under management, an “important milestone for global capital markets”.