World's largest windfarm and women in boardrooms: 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.

edie's weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

edie's weekly round-up explores how businesses across the world are ramping up efforts across all areas of sustainable development

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 - energyresourcesinfrastructuremobility and business leadership.

From a house made entirely from waste materials, to the opening of the world’s largest offshore windfarm, each of these projects and initiatives is empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

ENERGY: World's largest offshore windfarm opens off the Cumbrian coast

Just weeks after the UK Government released new data revealing that renewables accounted for a record 29.3% of the UK’s electricity in 2017, the largest offshore windfarm in the world has opened in the Irish Sea.  

The £1.2bn Walney Facility, operated by Ørsted, already consisted of 102 turbines, but a project to install a further 87 was completed on Thursday (6 September). The wind farm now spans an area the size of 20,000 football pitches and has a capacity of 659MW, enough to power the equivalent of 590,000 homes. 

Ørsted has pledged to open a community benefit fund of £600,000 annually to support the windfarm for the next 25 years, with the funding earmarked for community and environmental projects in coastal areas of Cumbria and Lancashire.

Welcoming the completion of the Walney extension, Energy Minister Claire Perry said: "Record-breaking engineering landmarks like this help us consolidate our global leadership position, break records for generating renewable energy, and create thousands of high-quality jobs."

RESOURCES: Next to stock wine in 100% recycled plastic bottles

It may be better known for its annual clothing sale than its sustainability credentials, but retail giant Next has this week revealed that it will start selling bottles of wine housed in 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic packaging.

The innovative 750ml bottles, manufactured by beverage brand Garcon Wines, are produced in the UK using a food-grade standard PET. They are widely recyclable but are also 87% lighter than traditional glass bottles of the same size - meaning that less waste by weight will go to landfill if they are not recycled.

The move from Next comes after corporates, including Coca-Cola, Princes and Procter & Gamble (P&G), made moves to increase the proportion of recycled content they use in their packaging.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: ‘Waste house’ in Brighton classed among world’s most eco-friendly

Four years after it was completed, a “waste” house made with end-of-life toothbrushes, floppy discs and DVD cases has been ranked among the most innovative sustainable buildings in the world by design consultancy Mind’s Eye Design.

The house, located on the University of Brighton campus in Sussex, was the first in the UK to be made entirely out of material destined for landfill. Designed by architect Duncan Baker-Brown, materials used in the construction process include two tonnes of denim jeans, 2,000 floppy discs and 2,000 used carpet tiles.

The structure, which is used by the University’s students as a study hub, has a frame made from waste timber collected from local building sites, recycling centres and outlets like Freegle. Plywood ‘cassettes’ containing waste materials have been slotted into the walls of the wooden structure for insulation, and the building also benefits from a rooftop solar array and heat recovery system.

MOBILITY: New York to use dieselgate pay-out to fund EV initiatives

Almost three years after the so-called ‘dieselgate’ scandal, which saw the US Government sue carmaker Volkswagen for installing emissions cheating devices on at least 11 million vehicles, New York State has unveiled plans to spend its share of the legal settlement on electric vehicle (EV) initiatives.

The state government announced this week that it would spend at least 60% of its $127.7m (£98.7m) share of the settlement to fund charging infrastructure and introduce electric buses to its public transport systems. In a statement released on Thursday (6 September), Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the move would help to mobilise a total of $300m (£231.8m) of investment, resulting in emissions reductions equivalent to removing 65,000 cars from the road.

“By strategically investing these settlement funds, we can take real action to improve community health and sustainability, while providing incentives to address one of the largest causes of harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Cuomo said.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Women on board cuts risk of environmental sustainability failures, study finds

In this section of our weekly roundup, edie usually highlights the good work a leader business is doing to drive sustainability beyond their own operations. This week, however, we are turning to internal leadership, after a new study found that companies with women on board are less likely to face environmental lawsuits.

The research, carried out by Chelsea Liu at Adelaide University, concluded that the average corporate could save as much as $3.1m (£2.41m) on the $204m (£158.54m) average environmental lawsuit for every woman it appointed at boardroom level. Moreover, the study found that large businesses with women sitting on their company boards were 1.5% less likely to face a so-called “eco-suits” than those with an entirely male leadership.

The theory behind the findings is that making a compromise between a range of perspectives can result in a more holistic corporate environmental policy, which in turn can reduce exposure to environmental lawsuits.

Liu said her findings, published in the Journal of Corporate Finance on Monday (3 September), would have “significant implications” for policymakers, investors and managers. The research could build the “business case” for the creation of boardroom gender quotas, she added.

Sarah George


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