Friday, 20 June 2008

UK winners of world’s leading green energy prize announced

The UK winners of the world’s leading green energy awards were announced last night, in recognition of their ground-breaking work in addressing fuel poverty, cutting carbon emissions and making renewable energy more accessible.

With escalating fuel prices and widespread concern over climate change, the inspiring work of these charities, companies, schools and local authorities shows how high levels of CO2 from heating, lighting and powering buildings can be reduced, and give savings on fuel bills. This year’s Ashden Awards winners are rolling out energy efficiency schemes for homes, saving energy in workplaces, boosting the market for renewable energy and making their schools sustainable.

The UK winners were presented with their prizes at the Ashden Awards ceremony tonight at the Royal Geographical Society in London, alongside prize-winners from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Handing out the awards, Sir David King, former chief scientific advisor to the government, said: “I’ve had my spirits raised by what I’ve seen here at the Ashden Awards. Climate change is the biggest challenge we have ever had to face. We need individual actions like these.”

The Ashden Awards is a UK-based charity that works to increase the use of local sustainable energy worldwide. They find, reward, and publicise the work of leading sustainable energy programmes working in the UK and across the developing world.

The UK winners were: Kensa Engineering Ltd – manufacturing easy to install heat pumps; Leeds City Council – saving around 88,000 tonnes a year of CO2 through its energy efficiency work; Global Action Plan – training workplace teams to get energy-saving messages across to over 86,000 employees; and Ringmer Community College – saving over £14,000 a year through energy saving and using renewable energy.

This year’s ‘Energy Champion’ is awarded to an organisation in South India that is transforming small businesses by encouraging them to use safer and cleaner energy-efficient woodstoves and kilns. Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) has revolutionised life for thousands and improved the environment.

The 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award went to Grameen Shakti of Bangladesh, which has made a remarkable contribution to the spread of sustainable energy solutions. To date it has installed 150,000 solar home systems and is adding around 5,000 new systems each month. Since winning an Ashden Award in 2006 it has diversified into the provision of fuel-efficient stoves, which improve living conditions and save fuel, and domestic biogas systems which bring clean sustainable energy to thousands more.

The UK 2008 winners were:

Schools category: Ringmer Community College, East Sussex, has 200 of its 800 secondary pupils opting to be badge-wearing ‘eco reps’. Departments which waste or consume too much energy are named and shamed and their budgets are charged for each offence. Solar panels and a wind turbine are among the green energy measures the school has introduced. The judges said the award was given to Ringmer “for showing that, when secondary pupils are given real responsibility for sustainability, the benefits are enormous, both within the school and beyond.”

Local Authority category: Leeds City Council, the second largest local authority in the UK has a long and impressive record of energy efficiency housing initiatives, particularly cavity wall and loft insulation, and efficient gas boiler installation. The council is over two-thirds along the way to the 2011 target of 30 per cent savings in household energy use. The council was commended by the judges for “a sustained commitment to energy efficiency which has significantly reduced fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions in a large local authority.”

Energy Business category: Kensa Engineering, a thriving business based in Cornwall producing ground source heat pumps. The company supplies kits for small-scale heat pumps that a non specialist can install, with a ‘slinky’ pipe collecting heat from the ground that an electrical compressor pumps into an indoor space. The award, said the judges, “reflected the company’s success in manufacturing an effective, high-quality sustainable technology for a wider, non-specialist market, and creating local jobs in a deprived area.”

Charity and Community category: Global Action Plan, based in London, is a charity that works with teams of ‘Environment Champions’ in workplaces to help them reduce their carbon emissions through behaviour change. The programme is so far saving over 3,000 tonnes a year of CO2 in direct energy savings and a further 9,300 tonnes a year from waste reduction (enough to fill about 45,000 bendy buses each year). The charity’s “success in motivating employees to change their behaviour at work and home” was cited by the judges.

Second prizes were awarded to:

Local Authority: Arun District Council which has upgraded 99 per cent of its social housing stock with insulation and double glazing, despite a limited budget for sustainable energy work. Staff in the authority’s offices are using posters, quizzes, car pools and office bikes to reduce energy use.

Schools: Sandhills Primary School, Oxfordshire has a pupils’ watchdog energy team to help the school caretaker minimise energy consumption for heat and light. Pupils organise competitions and they helped raise funds for the wind turbine.

Business: Dulas, mid-Wales an employee-owned company, Dulas has been pioneering renewable energy technology for over 25 years. They design and install small hydro-power schemes, solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and wood-fired heating. They have also designed and sold a life-saving solar-powered refrigerator for storing vaccines in developing countries.

Charity and Community: Energy Agency, South Ayrshire is using part of the profits from a wind farm to help those on low incomes in rural areas to draught proof and insulate their lofts and cavity walls and help reduce crippling winter fuel bills.

HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated the winners at a separate meeting. A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was deeply encouraged to learn of the solutions demonstrated by the Ashden Awards that can reduce our dependency on a carbon economy. His Royal Highness was particularly impressed by the local sustainable energy initiatives recognised and promoted by the Awards, which not only meet the needs of communities, but tackle climate change and further sustainable development."

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Executive Chair of the Awards, said:
“Each winner can be proud of their work to safeguard our shared future. We hope they can inspire others – whether they are young people, companies or other organisations – to follow the sustainable energy path.”

Currently around 40 percent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating, lighting and powering buildings and around 4.5 million people are living in fuel poverty, a figure that is growing.

Go to the Ashden Awards website for more details

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