UK business briefs: Eco-roof, ep-points, battery plant, solar powered street lights, nature garden, chemical art winner

A new heating system that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 75% has been unveiled by Drum Housing Association. Integrated within the roof, the system harvests renewable energy by absorbing heat from the atmosphere and direct solar radiation. Unlike passive solar collection panels, which require direct sunlight, the system works on temperature differential both day and night, providing central heating and hot water on tap 24 hours a day. The Energy Saving Trust has commended the system, stating that with approximately 31% of energy production in the UK being consumed by domestic buildings, 82% of which is for heating and hot water, the new technology is a significant move forward in the campaign to build sustainable homes. An average new three bedroom house using intermittent gas heating with a conventional gas boiler will produce an estimated 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per annum, compared to just 950 Kg using the Sunergy system.

Eppendorf products now come with the additional bonus of ep-points. This flexible new rewards scheme gives customers the chance to collect points on pipettes, tips, tubes and reagents, as well as additional points from special campaigns and other incentives. ep-points can be redeemed on-line for Eppendorf products, useful lab items, or leisure, sport and fun gifts. Part of a global strategy across the whole Eppendorf group, ep-points is a web-based scheme allowing registered customers to check their ep-points total, order from the rewards shop, and manage their account profile via the ep-points website.

G & P Batteries this week opened the country’s first battery recycling plant for household batteries. The £250,000 plant, based at West Bromwich, will recycle alkaline and zinc carbon batteries, the most common types of household batteries, which can be found in products ranging from radios to remote controls. The UK generates around 700 million of these kinds of waste cells each year, the equivalent of 30,000 tonnes. Currently less than 2% of waste portable batteries are collected and until now they have had to be sent overseas for recycling and reprocessing. But G & P’s new plant is capable of reprocessing up to 1,500 tonnes of waste alkaline and zinc carbon batteries each year.

Oxfordshire based, Zeta Solar is developing revolutionary solar-powered technology so LED based lighting solutions can be used within street furniture, amenity lighting, signage and advertising markets. Economically competitive compared with traditional forms of lighting technology; Zeta’s solar powered LED lighting looks set for huge global expansion. In line with the government campaign to generate 10% of our energy from renewable sources by 2010, councils and public transport bodies are making more commitments to cheaper and sustainable installations whilst solar-powered bus shelters have popped up from Cornwall to Edinburgh with increasing frequency. The bus shelters are lit using energy stored up from intelligent solar panels located on the roof. When a sensor detects an approaching person, the light activates and remains on until the passenger has left the shelter. Tackling the concerns of commuters about safety, security and comfort, this bright idea could be here to stay.

The Deputy Mayor of London Nicky Gavron this week helped pupils to transform the grounds of St Charles School in Ladbroke Grove into an exciting nature garden. Joined by local volunteers from Barclays, she helped the children learn about the environment as part of the London Schools Environment Awards Scheme. St Charles pupils are learning about a variety of plants, animals and habitats through their school gardens. Barclays is giving their staff the opportunity to volunteer as part of their employee volunteering programme and local Barclays volunteers are helping the children to clear their school garden and plant appropriate plants to attract insects and butterflies. To assist the children’s learning, Barclays is giving the school £500 to buy seeds, tools and other resources and will be returning to the school in the coming weeks to help further with the project.

And finally, Mike Ferguson from Manchester Metropolitan University has been chosen as the national winner in the Chemical Industries Association’s innovative Holding up the mirror arts competition. Students from around the UK were invited to create a work of art that explored the chemical industry’s contribution to sustainable development. Mike Ferguson has won the national prize of £1,500.

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