IEMA & Go Green South West seminar: Innovation in 2015 European Green Capital

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The grey weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the 60 attendees at the IEMA & Go Green South West Seminar on Monday 5th October which was in recognition of Bristol’s European Green Capital innovations.

At-Bristol science centre on Bristol’s Harbourside had a buzzing atmosphere as delegates with a diverse range of experience and expertise, from as far afield as Birmingham and Cornwall shared advice and challenges, and enjoyed fantastic talks from a diverse range of speakers.

The collaboration between Go Green and the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) facilitated the sharing of Bristol’s innovative approaches to sustainable business with IEMA’s membership of environment and sustainability professionals.

After being welcomed by Karen Gallagher, IEMA’s South West Regional Chair, Martin Bigg, Chair of IEMA’s Strategic Advisory Council and Professor of Environmental Technology Innovation at the University of the West of England chaired the event. He set the scene by highlighting Bristol’s reputation for collaboration and innovation.

Before lunch

After an introduction to Go Green, there were great ideas for engaging staff on sustainability issues from Rob Delius, Head of Sustainable Design and Architect for Stride Treglown. Take a look at Rob’s slides for inspiration if you will be holding a Business Green Week  next year, or for general ideas to enthuse your team all year round!

Julian Okoye, Head of Business Development for waste-management company, GENeco gave a fun and insightful talk about the business case for innovation in order to build resilience against utility price fluctuations, and finding sustainable solutions to dealing with waste.

It was fascinating to hear about the media popularity of the biogas bus (the so-called Poo Bus) which is fueled from sewage and food waste provided by Bristol residents.  The story reached more people than the entire population of Europe! We heard how the householders of the No.2 bus route along which the biogas bus runs, could provide enough food waste to fuel a bus trip two million miles long! The next challenge is ensuring that all that food waste gets separated from landfill so it has a new life as fuel.

ISO 14001:2015

Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor provided an insightful run-down of the 2015 changes to the international standard for Environmental Management Systems, ISO 14001. The standard is used by approximately 324,000 organisations across 170 countries and all sectors. For those that already have the accreditation, they have just three years to incorporate the new requirements.

Martin’s slides contain the key points to consider for the revision.

Martin gave a great example of how using your influence and thinking creatively can reduce the environmental impacts of your company. Procter and Gamble used different enzymes in their shower gel because a Life Cycle Assessment identified that the consumer use of the product in the shower at home had the biggest environmental impact resulting  from water and energy use. The gel now washes off sixteen seconds quicker, reducing the length of showers.

After lunch

Delegates had a choice of a behind the scenes tour of the energy innovations at At-Bristol or workshops covering the five themes of Go Green.

Behind the scenes tour

On the tour, Chris Dunford, Sustainability Engagement Manger for At-Bristol explained that the 1903 building was sympathetically renovated from an old railway depot into the modern, vibrate science centre. A brilliant example of recycling a building, which in turn helped to regenerate the whole area that was derelict.

Delegates heard about the impressive automated heating system. When there are not enough bodies in the conference rooms generating heat that gets moved to the rest of the building, the venue uses air source heat pumps which run at night for cheaper electricity. They manage the heat throughout the day using the phase-change tank containing 65,000 balls. The water from this then gets distributed to 100 water source heat pumps which look like radiators and heat or cool the building.


1. Sustainable Sourcing: what to consider when addressing sustainable procurement. Advice from the experiences  of Sally Taylor and Melanie Lane, sustainable procurement experts from the Environment Agency. Slides are available that outline the key things to address and include additional sustainable procurement resources on the final slide. Download complimentary worksheets from the workshop:

2. Energy & Efficiency: going Carbon Neutral and carbon offsetting tips. For those not in the workshop an overview of the Pukka Herbs case study from Anne Barr, former Sustainability Manager for Pukka Herbs is available via the Go Green website.

3. Travel & Transport: supporting sustainable travel in the workplace to improve staff productivity and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Ian Barrett, South West Regional Director for Sustrans provides advice and tips on engaging staff.

4. Planning & Resilience: making the most of your green teams and champions builds the resilience of your business. If you missed the excellent advice on staff engagement from Harriet Kingaby, Director of Brand Strategy at Oggadoon you can download top tips from the Go Green website article resulting from a previous workshop on training your green team.

5. Happy & Healthy: how to embed a culture of wellbeing awareness amongst employees. Nicola Rich, Emotional Intelligence Coach, Trainer and HR Manager for Stride Treglown explained how the Bristol office engages their staff, such as through their Sustainable Me Month and their volunteer Wellbeing Champions. For more advice see the New Economic Foundation’s  Five Ways To Wellbeing.

This fascinating day was rounded off by a truly inspirational talk from Dominic Hogg, Chairman of independent consultancy, Eunomia. We heard how Eunomia have a fleet of company Brompton bicycles rather than company cars and that they were bronze in the Brompton World Championships! The consultancy also does its own in-house carbon offsetting and the staff decide how to use the carbon saving fund for a wider social purpose.

Dominic also highlighted that he sees marine litter (largely comprised of waste plastic) as the biggest issue for the 21st century. He said that plastic has the biggest boomerang effect because we discard it, but it is increasingly found in the fish we eat!

Dominic argued the case for more taxes on environmental pollution and pointed out how there is no tax on heating fuel in the UK, but there is in Denmark.

He ended with an analogy about how the end of slavery was brought about after 20 years of campaigning and that environmental professionals would one day look back and see that people find it impossible to think that we ever tolerated environmental damage. Therefore, we should never give up taking action!

Thank you to everyone who made the trip to Bristol, we hope you were inspired to take at least a few of the innovative ideas back to your businesses and implement them this year.

As mentioned in the Go Green introduction to the day, if you are you are a Bristol based company with the potential to provide water refill points for re-useable bottles. then join over 50 other organisations across the city by supporting Refill Bristol and help to reduce single-use plastic waste.