Conserving energy as well wildlife: Go Green learns from Bristol Zoo Gardens

Published on by Go Green.

April showers did not dampen the spirits of those who attended Wednesday’s Go Green Business Breakfast – Energy & Efficiency!

We had another brilliant turn out with around 100 delegates. Alas, we could only watch the flamingos from the window – they couldn’t come in to join us! However, the decor reminded us that we were at Bristol Zoo Gardens, with leopard print carpet and beautiful animal paintings on the walls.

Bristol Zoo, the fifth oldest Zoo in the world, was a perfect case study to illustrate just what can be achieved by a business when it is focused on improving its sustainability. With top down guidance from trustees, and bottom up enthusiasm and support from staff and volunteers, they have made large financial savings from addressing their energy, water and waste management, and improving efficiency across their two sites.

The Zoo welcomes 600,000 visitors including 40,000 school children annually, and works hard to promote conservation around the world, so it recognises its responsibility to communicate a strong sustainability message. Bristol Zoo certainly walks the talk, now in the eight year of its ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System.

Following a welcome from the Zoo’s Chairman of Trustees and a Go Green update, Matt Gitsham from Sustain Ltd kicked off the expert speaker presentations with informative overview of where to start on the road to addressing energy efficiency.

 Ten Top Tips For Increasing Energy Efficiency

1. Get an idea of how much you are using over a year via your utility bills – be aware that these are estimated

2. Read gas, electric, water meters monthly, ideally weekly to give a good profile of use

3. Take meter readings in the morning and evening for one fortnight per quarter, to enable comparison across the seasons and identify any unexpected spikes in use when equipment is unknowingly left on all night

4. Use an electric wire clip to measure electricity use minute by minute on individual pieces of plant to identify spikes in use

5. Calculate building floor area to enable you to look up a ‘typical practice’ and ‘good practice’ benchmarks for kilowatt  hours per area of floor space, so you can recognise how much scope there is for improvement in your building

6. There are bigger environmental wins if you first focus on reducing electricity use before gas use, because one kilowatt hour from gas has a lower carbon footprint than on kilowatt hour of electricity

7. Focus on saving hot water use before cold because the carbon footprint of hot water is much larger, especially so for water heated by electricity

8. Invest in an energy manager / champion to dig into energy use and make progress with reduction

9. Start with simple measures: encourage staff to dress for the weather – extra layers in winter, lighter layers in summer;  ensure staff know how to control radiator values so the heat is not pumping out when the windows are open; provide task lighting for each desk rather than strip lighting that employees feel uncomfortable taking control of; insulate valves and flanges to reduce heat loss; carry out a lighting audit to identify savings from installing LEDs

10. Replace major plant equipment with modern versions that are far more energy efficient

Edmund Davis from Stripe OLT Consulting highlighted how the environmental costs of IT equipment lie mostly with the manufacturing process and the mining of precious metals that are used in them, therefore we should all make purchasing choices that ensure the equipment lasts as long as possible.  He provided an overview of how the Zoo has reduced its IT energy consumption and heat produced from running IT equipment.

Top Tips for Green IT

1. Monitor and understand what your business is spending money on – a Smart Meter can automatically populate an Excel spreadsheet with readings

2. Find things that use energy the most and simply turn them off !

3. Reduce the heat load by replacing with more modern equipment –  lots of equipment gives off heat that requires extra cooling in the room

4. Modern equipment is more versatile and more can be done with fewer pieces of kit, including the addition of virtual servers that could save you thousands

5. Use tele-presence and video conferencing  by installing Superfast Broadband with a government grant of £3000

6. Use teleconferencing to support more collaborative working between sites as staff can see the same screen at the same time

7. Don’t be afraid of investing in technology – it saves money, reduces your energy footprint and supports flexible working

Krystian Sordyl from Solarsense talked us through the solar PV capacity that they have installed at the Zoo since 2011, saving £55, 000!

Sue Dow from Bristol Zoo gave an enthusiastic insight into the glamorous world of waste management and the beautiful Zoo gardens are a testimony to her work on increasing windrow composting! It was astonishing to hear that the largest proportion of food waste is generated from food left on plates by visitors. In a bid to reduce waste, Zoo staff are being educated to consider the final resting place of waste if it is not recycled, and the negative environmental impacts of landfill. The Zoo have also changed how they mark up their bins to educate visitors on recycling, and we discussed how a display of previous recycling rates, can make visitors aware that their recycling contribution really does make a difference.

Sue’s top tip was to make sure you find some measure of waste to monitor  – such as number of bins emptied, number of bags sent to waste/ recycling, weight of different waste streams (your waste collector can provide this).

Tim Wilson, Bristol Zoo Gardens

Our host, Tim Wilson, Director of Estates for Bristol Zoo, showed a moving film about Water Awareness that had some haunting statistics – within 20 years 40% of the globe will suffer water shortages and this will have a devastating effect on habitats around the world.

Bristol Zoo Gardens 'Water Watch' Video

Alan Cook from Bristol Water then guided us through the most impressive graph of the morning. It showed how the Zoo has reduced its baseline water usage by investigating leaks and using rainwater capture to fill the flamingo pool, saving £12,000 in one year!

Alan Cook, Bristol Water

Bristol Water helped audit the Zoo by looking at every single tap and water supply and the metering of water use. They identified that some existing meters burnt out with high water flow and could not pick up low flows, so were not as accurate as first thought. We heard that the Clifton Pavilion building we were sitting in was able to capture more water from its roof than than it used – so we’re sure that made many people think about how much water could be captured from their own roofs!

The Go Green Team would like to thank our wonderful hosts at the Clifton Pavilion, Bristol Zoo Gardens for helping us put on such a successful event.

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