London’s net zero office and Milan’s zero-emission vehicle pledge: sustainability success stories of the week


Published weekly, this series shows how companies and sustainability professionals are striving to achieve their “Mission Possible” through the campaign’s five key pillars: energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business management.

The energy price crisis grabbed headlines in the UK this week, with the energy security strategy widely labeled as a missed opportunity in energy efficiency, onshore wind and solar power.

But, across the UK and the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning their environmental ambitions into action. Here we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Ingka Group and Ecolab invest in renewable electricity production

Image: Ecolab

It’s been a busy week for renewable energy news, with the UK government releasing its much-awaited energy security strategy and the German government setting new clean energy targets for 2030 and 2035.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, Ikea’s parent company, Ingka Group, has purchased nine solar farm projects from developer Enerparc. Five of the projects are in Spain and four in Germany. Together they have a capacity of over 440 MW. All projects are due to come online in 2023. Ikea has notably pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy in operations and supply chains during this decade.

Elsewhere, water and hygiene solutions provider Ecolab has signed a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) with the Low Carbon developer for power from a five-turbine wind farm on the west coast of Finland. The Morknassokogen wind farm is expected to be commissioned in 2023 and will generate more than enough electricity to cover 100% of Ecolab’s European operations.

RESOURCES: Amazon UK is ditching plastic mail bags

According to marine conservation NGO Oceana, Amazon globally produced around 33% more plastic packaging in 2021 than in 2020 as orders surged amid Covid-19. The analysis has put more pressure on the e-commerce giant, after around a third of its shareholders voted for a resolution that would have required plastics disclosure at the 2021 AGM season.

In a positive move in this space, Amazon has stopped packaging products in single-use mailbags in the UK. It has also stopped packaging items in outer packaging in single-use bags within its own UK distribution network. Envelopes, bags and boxes made of recyclable paper are used instead.

Additionally, Amazon has begun engaging with brands that feature on its platform to help transition to boxed delivery options. In this format, products are shipped to customers only in their original packaging, with only an address label added.

“Customers are already receiving more deliveries in easily recyclable paper and cardboard, and we will continue to innovate and find ways to use more sustainable packaging,” said Amazon’s UK country manager. , John Boumphrey.

MOBILITY: Italian cities pledge to switch to zero-emission cars and vans

Pictured: Porto Nuovo, Milan

On Transport Day (10 November) at COP26 in Glasgow, a notable new pledge was launched, with signatories pledging to end all sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and to all new petrol and diesel heavy-duty (HGV) vehicles by 2040. 32 countries initially signed up, plus several cities, states and regions.

Milan, Turin, Genoa and Naples joined this cohort of signatories this week. Rome, Florence and Bologna had already registered. Together, these seven cities are home to 17% of Italy’s car fleet.

Entry signings took place at the Envision Racing garage ahead of the Rome E-Prix.

British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewelyn said: “After the year of the Presidencies, where Italy and the UK have worked closely together to raise the level of ambition to tackle the climate change crisis , it’s great to see so many Italian cities commit to such a high level of ambition. In the UK, we are also committed to ensuring that all sales of new cars and vans are zero emissions. here 2035.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Work begins to develop a net zero office building in London

Late last year, Landsec celebrated the completion of The Forge in London, which would be the UK’s first new net-zero carbon commercial development. Built-in sustainability features include rooftop solar, LED lighting, a green roof, and low-carbon materials and construction methods.

In another milestone for net zero workplaces in the UK, Quadrum and BAM Construct this week began construction of 11 Belgrave – a net zero retail block in Victoria, London. Quadrum is aiming to achieve 5.5-star NABERS and BREEAM “Outstanding” certification for the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. The project will include 108,000 square feet of office space, as well as a cafe and a gym .

The project was designed by Eric Parry Architects and Quadrum is supported in the sustainability certification process by consultancy firm Max Fordham.

“The comprehensive refurbishment project at 11 Belgrave Road will transform a tired, underperforming 1950s office into a premier sustainable workplace focused on wellbeing,” said Robert Kennett, principal of Eric Parry Architects. “The renovation will provide a new identity with the quality and energy performance benefits of a new building, while reducing carbon emissions associated with construction by retaining a significant portion of the existing concrete frame and applying the best practices throughout construction and specification. ”

CORPORATE MANAGEMENT: unspun celebrates B Corp certification

The B Corp movement has grown considerably in recent years and now has more than 4,000 certified companies worldwide. The US and UK are home to the two largest national B Corp communities, with over 3,000 and 700 certified organizations respectively.

Joining the movement this week is a California-based robotics and unspun apparel company. The brand manufactures bespoke denim on demand using 3D scanning and weaving technology. This process minimizes waste and also enables localized production, overcoming challenges such as international supply chain transparency and minimizing the distance traveled for garments.

unspun estimates that if its methods were more widely adopted in the global textile industry, a 1% reduction in annual global carbon emissions would be achieved. Its life cycle assessment of blue denim found a 42% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the US average.

To achieve B Corp accreditation, brands must disclose their governance structures and processes and their progress in positively impacting workers, customers, communities and the environment.

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