Solar panels for Indian hospitals and PR firms taking a stand against fossil fuels: 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 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: Thousands of India’s healthcare facilities to fit solar, improve energy efficiency

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently released a major analysis concluding that renewable energy investment will need to triple to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory in reach. An even steeper uptick in investment will be needed in the global south, with investment at present largely concentrated in the US, EU and China.

It is welcome news, then, that the Ikea Foundation and Selco Foundation have partnered on €48m of funding for solar and energy storage installations across India, to be located across 25,000 healthcare facilities that collectively serve more than 170 million people. India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is assisting with the allocation of the funding.

The funding will add around 100MW of solar energy capacity through to 2026. Facilities that currently have no electricity access will be enabled to power up for the first time, and facilities dependent on fossil fuel technologies will see reduced emissions and local air pollution. Funding will also be dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of the facilities to ensure that the new clean technologies are effective.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director of environment, climate and health, Dr Maria Neira, said: “Reliable electricity in healthcare facilities is essential to save lives and to provide quality health care. And yet, one billion people around the world are still served by healthcare facilities without reliable electricity or with no electricity access at all. Decentralised renewable energies represent a key opportunity to accelerate electrification of health-care facilities, including in remote areas.”

RESOURCES: Envision Racing campaigns to tackle e-waste

edie recently published a special feature from Earthshine Group chief Mike Townsend, on the need for the transition to a circular economy in the automotive industry as the electric vehicle (EV) revolution gathers pace.

While his focus was on major carmakers like Groupe Renault, we have this week received exciting news about the circular economy in motorsport. British Formula E team Envision Racing has launched a new global competition, aimed at raising awareness of – and finding innovative solutions to – the global e-waste challenge.

Targeted at young people aged nine to 21, entrants are asked to envision (pardon the pun) a racing car made entirely from recycled and reused components. They will be challenged to think about how the disused or broken electronics and electricals we have lying around our homes could have a new lease of life in the sports and/or automotive sectors. The ‘Race to Waste’ competition is open until 1 July.

According to the UN, e-waste is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream and is set to double by 2030 against a 2014 baseline.

Envision Racing driver Sebastien Buemi said: “Electric mobility is a key part of reducing global carbon emissions and the technology is moving fast. We can now race up to speeds of 320kph, up from 225kph In Formula E’s first year in 2014/15, and batteries are more than proving their potential.

“But batteries are built from specific metals and minerals which – even if the battery itself is worn out – can be reused. We urgently need to create a system that captures and extract these and other materials from old electrical products to use them as part of the electric revolution.”

MOBILITY: Gridserve opens two new charging hubs in North East England

Staying on the topic of electric mobility, Gridserve has recently opened two new EV charging hubs on the A1 in North East England – one at Moto Washington North and the other at Moto Washington South. The new additions mean that 17 Moto service stations now host Gridserve chargers, with Moto promising several new additions by the end of 2023.

Each new hub hosts six rapid (350kw-capable) chargers, served with electricity procured from Gridserve’s portfolio of solar and battery farms in the UK. Grisderve moved in 2020 to buy the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm, in Clayhill, Bedfordshire, and now owns and/or operates facilities generating 62GWh of renewable electricity each year.

Moto’s chief executive Ken McMeikan said: “As the largest UK motorway services operator, we are continuing our mission to transform the UK’s rest stop experience and reducing range anxiety by revolutionising the EV charging experience for motorists on motorways is at the heart of our plans.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Geoship unveils prototype dome home

When we look at affordable, low-carbon homes in the UK, where edie is based, the stand-out options seem to be retrofitting or modular homes built using modern methods of construction.

Across the Atlantic, 3D printing seems to be catching on – but could the next big thing be injection-molded domes? Geoship has recently unveiled the first prototype of its geosodic dome home, known as the Geoship. The property, in Nevada City, California, has an operational carbon footprint 90% lower than traditional homes. It is manufactured using injection molding of ceramics and the design has been created with energy efficiency and climate adaptation in mind; Geoship claims it is resistant to hurricanes, floods, fires and earthquakes.

Geoship launched in 2019 and has taken more than 10,000 pre-orders for its domes, which can be built as individual units or in clusters.

Geoship founder and chief executive Morgan Bierschenk said: “Millions of homebuyers want to leave the city and live closer to nature and community – in affordable, sustainable, ultra-modern, natural homes. Ceramic domes and regenerative villages uniquely serve this emerging market.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Clean Creatives surpasses support from 500 agencies

There are now all manner of industry groups through which sectors have declared a climate emergency and collaborated to improve environmental performance, including for music, architecture and travel and tourism.

The group for the PR and advertising industry, Clean Creatives, has been in the news this week as it announced that it has surpassed the 500 member mark. That’s hundreds of agencies and individuals committed to end work with any fossil fuel clients with expansion plans, plus work with any trade groups deemed to be engaging in climate-related greenwashing.

Clean Creatives members also commit to ending work with clients that hinder the development and implementation of stronger green policies, and to better promoting credible climate solutions.

“The advertising industry is changing, and these agencies are at the forefront of a historic shift away from polluting clients. They are showing that you can grow a powerful creative business without relying on fossil fuel clients,” Clean Creatives’ executive director Duncan Meisel said.

“The question for executives at other agencies is simple: do you want to be a leader in this transition, or will you be left behind by it?

Read edie’s full story here.

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