Get into the cycling spirit with Kier Homes’ Go Green scheme

26 Sep 2013


Thanks to a new initiative launched in June of this year, Kier Homes is giving away free bikes and cycle helmets to new buyers as part of its new ‘Go Green' scheme. The initiative, which the property developer hopes will help to cut the nation's carbon footprint and boost fitness, allows every buyer of a new home at its Connect21 development in Peterborough to get a new bike.

Kier Homes hopes that this new initiative will encourage new residents to leave their cars at home, instead choosing to take a short ride into the city centre. The developer, founded in 1928, has even developed a handy free guide to cycling in the area, which it hopes will see cyclists enjoying easy routes into the city and exploring the local countryside.

The free guide, available when homebuyers complete the purchase of a new house from Kier Homes, offers guidance and tips to encourage safe cycling in and around Connect21. The guide also includes information on local route information boards which have been installed around the development on open spaces and cycle routes.

Connect21 itself can be found at Potters Way in Peterborough. The development of new homes has a mix of 2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses and apartments within easy walking distance of Peterborough city centre and is located less than a mile from Peterborough train station.

The impressive development of new homes in Peterborough has been designed with sustainability in mind from the outset. Kier Homes used eco-friendly materials throughout the building process with materials sourced from a number of different sustainable resources.

The location of Connect21 is also key; Kier Homes transformed a redundant industrial site into a stylish, contemporary collection of homes set in a beautifully-landscaped setting. The development is complemented with easy access to open spaces and specially-created wildlife habitats areas in and around the development.

Building on Britain's cycling successes over the past two years, Kier Homes' Go Green initiative encourages everyone in the area to get on their bikes and start to cycle to places where they previously might have taken the car.

Although only buyers of new homes in Connect21 receive a free bike and safety helmet, the property developer hopes that their newly installed information boards around the area will get other local residents involved in cycling to and from the town.

Kier Homes wants to build on the last two years of British "cycle mania", and it hopes that its ‘Go Green' scheme will do just that. After Sir Bradley Wiggins CBE won the Tour de France in 2012, before going on to win Olympic Gold at the London 2012 Olympic games, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton MBE and Laura Trott OBE all achieved similar successes on their bikes at last summer's Olympic games. This year, Chris Froome followed in Sir Bradley Wiggins' footsteps to become only the second ever British winner of the Tour de France.

Kier Homes' new ‘Go Green' scheme builds on the continued successes of Team GB's cyclists and our recent Tour de France wins. Britain's recent domination on the road, track and Velodrome has also been mirrored by an increasing participation in cycling in the UK, and bike sales are up as a result.

At Connect21, two cycle routes have been selected, both of which start close to the development. To ensure new cyclists don't get lost, a handy free map is available to cyclists from the Connect21 sales office. The local area's large information boards found along the route also provide further information about cycling in Peterborough.

Nick Moore, deputy managing director of Kier Homes said: "We're delighted to welcome Mr Jackson to Connect21 to see for himself how our Go Green initiative is making it easy for local people and families to enjoy healthier lifestyles. With Connect21 so well located close to the city centre and to the natural landscapes of the River Nene, exploring the area by bicycle makes perfect sense."

Healthy SME business and going green

24 Sep 2013

Health screen

Running a small to medium-sized enterprise brings with it a host of challenges, but there are also many rewards, such as:

- Greater variety for employees - with fewer people in the workforce than at a large corporation, people often have the chance to develop skills that go beyond the confines of their remit.

- Better potential for gaining a profile within the organisation - another advantage of working somewhere that has fewer than 250 employees.

- In a poll carried out by the global personnel specialist Webrecruit in 2012, nearly a third (30 per cent) of respondents indicated that "working for a company where good ideas count, not power" was the main draw for working at an SME. In a very important sense, this is employee engagement in its purest form: the interaction between staff and the directions/decision making of the company as a whole.

The challenges of going green for SMEs

One of the challenges of going green for SMEs is also, in practice, the biggest advantage. And that's the fact that if you're an SME with a focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, then the value comes from putting green policies into practice.

Without a large PR machine or publicity department, there would be nothing to gain for smaller business simply by paying lip service to sustainable thinking. For SMEs looking to gain a green edge, it's a matter of sustainable doing.

The 360 degree approach to healthy employees, business and environment

The term "holistic" is buzzwordy, of course - but there are tangible benefits by looking at improving business as a whole rather than only by looking at specifics. For instance, an organisation that cares equally about its products and services, its people and the environment will have a set of values that are written into the corporate DNA. And it's by this process that organisations gain a competitive edge - being better able to recruit, continuously develop - and hopefully hold on to - the best talent available.

There are many different ways in which SME business can promote health and sustainability side by side, including stuff like the popular cycle to work scheme. Encouraging staff to cycle to work is a perfect example of holistic thinking, since it is:

- Economically sound - saving employees money not just on the bike but on fares or fuel costs for alternative forms of transport for their commute.

- Physically healthy. Cycling to work has been linked to lower obesity rates in employees as compared with those who take the car.

- Environmentally proactive. By providing a set of conditions where cycling is encouraged, the organisation is demonstrating a commitment to sustainable travel as well as building it into the corporate culture.

Healthier staff potentially also means significantly fewer incidences of sickness absence, and provision of company health insurance as well as employee assistance programmes and mental health promotion can complement benefits such as cycle-to-work, healthy food on-site and subsidised gym membership to ensure workforce health is a priority.

Britain introduces first LED streetlights

19 Jun 2013

LED street lights

Bath & North East Somerset Council are currently celebrating the achievement of being the first local authority in the United Kingdom to convert all main road lights to LED Technology.

The accomplishment is expected to cut energy use by more than 1.5 Kilowatt Hours (Kwh) and to add to this, the council is expected to make savings of around £200,000 a year in electricity bills.

As far as the environment is concerned, carbon emissions are expected to be cut by over 780 tonnes, which is the equivalent to three per cent of the Council's total energy consumption.

Included in the changeover are intelligent lighting lanterns, which adjust their output in accordance with the level of traffic on the road at any time. The council have also added LED lighting on all 108 zebra crossings, which will further reduce energy usage by another 77,000Khw per year.

At a time when the British Government is cutting funding to local councils, it is thought that LED lighting innovations shall be welcomed by other local authorities across the country.

Councillor Caroline Roberts of Newbridge, Cabinet Member for Transport said: "Instead of turning-off street lights like many other town halls, Bath & North East Somerset Council has used the latest technology to keep them on and save the local taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds on energy costs, cutting our carbon footprint in the process.

"The numbers involved in this project were truly staggering. We've worked hard in partnership with the private sector, particularly Philips, to deliver a success that will benefit local people because the savings allow us to protect frontline services."

The project has also been recognised by the Local Government News Street Design Awards 2013, as a winner in the public lighting category.

The award ceremony is set to be held in July 2013.

This article has been written by Hannah Trafford from LED Lighting Depot.

Innovating to drive change in the transportation sector

13 Jun 2013


andre-venemanThe movement of people and goods is crucial to the world economy. Whether travelling for work, visiting friends, or using products shipped from another country, we rely on transport to go about our daily lives. However our roads, train stations, ports and airports are busier than ever as populations grow and we increasingly move into cities.

Globally, the transportation sector is expected to continue growing, with a geographic shift of demand and manufacturing to the developing economies. But with this growth, environmental concerns are also increasing. Presently, more than 60 per cent of the 87 million barrels of oil consumed every day power the world's transportation sector, and liquid fossil fuels account for 94 per cent of the energy supply to the sector.

If the transportation sector is to be successful in reducing its impact and if it is to contribute to the limiting of global warming to less than 2°C, it cannot continue to develop under a business-as-usual scenario.

According to the predictions of the World Business Council Sustainability Development's Vision 2050 report, universal access to low carbon transport is expected by 2050. An 80 per cent reduction in energy use by light-duty vehicles is also forecast, along with a 50 per cent drop in energy usage within shipping/freight transportation.

These changes will create challenges and opportunities for all those companies operating within the sector. If suppliers such as AkzoNobel are to respond effectively to these trends, they need to focus on bigger, bolder innovations that can substantially improve sustainability, and deliver better value for customers.

The transportation sector needs these sustainable solutions. And if companies are to develop them, they need to recruit the very best people - pioneering chemists and engineers; strategists with acute insight into the markets, needs and global trends that will shape our world. Naturally, businesses need to commit to investing the necessary funds. Despite challenging economic conditions, at AkzoNobel we have actually increased our R&D spend in recent years. Over €370m was invested in research and development last year, two-thirds of which was focused purely on sustainability.

The fruits of this investment at AkzoNobel can be seen in products such as Intersleek. This solution enables ocean-going ships to move faster and use less fuel through the use of anti-fouling coatings. Another example is a world class basecoat/clearcoat system we have developed for aeroplanes which has redefined the application process. Requiring one coat instead of the usual two or three, it dries in two hours (rather than ten) and offers lower dirt pick-up, resulting in less need for cleaning. The potential weight reduction brought about by using less paint also means improved fuel efficiency.

It is also important for companies to recognize when they need to work with others. An "open innovation" approach is being employed increasingly by corporations who realize that they can no longer rely solely on internal resources to maintain a competitive edge.

Businesses need to fully embrace the model of open innovation. Why? Simply because in a world whose pace is getting faster and faster, it's difficult, if not impossible, for companies to have all the knowledge, skills and know-how available in-house to take ideas into the market place quickly or cost-effectively enough.

Organisations need to work up and down the value chains with others who have complementary capabilities to their own - suppliers with whom they can work to develop more sustainable raw materials; customers and end users who can guide them in their market needs and trends; and universities of course that can help them identify emerging sciences that can be developed into useful technologies.

In summary, incremental improvements will not be enough if we are to successfully tackle the sustainability challenges facing the transportation sector. It is only by delivering radical solutions and developing big and bold innovations that we will be able to drive significant change. Companies that can provide this will ultimately stand to benefit.

AkzoNobel is a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals. We supply industries and consumers worldwide with innovative products and are passionate about developing sustainable answers for our customers. Our portfolio includes well-known brands such as Dulux, Sikkens, International and Eka.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we are consistently ranked as one of the leaders in the area of sustainability. With operations in more than 80 countries, our 50,000 people around the world are committed to excellence and delivering Tomorrow's Answers TodayTM.

Tesla's Model S set to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream

22 May 2013

Tesla Model S and Roadster - photo Tesla

Tesla, a US state-supported electric car manufacturer, published dazzling first-quarter financial results for 2013, suggesting the era of the plug-in car may have arrived in earnest.

With almost 5,000 delivered worldwide, the Silicon Valley company's Tesla Model S luxury electric sedan outsold the German top-three, the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S Class. One of few cars designed specifically as an electric vehicle, the 2012 Model S was named Car of the Year by two major American motoring magazines while Consumer Report pronounced it the best car they had ever tested.

Electric car and electric vehicle component manufacturer Tesla Motors announced a 5m profit for the period, its first in ten years of trading. Revenue increased by an impressive $562m and its gross margin rose nine per cent to 17 per cent, outperforming both Toyota and General Motors.

The Californian company is owned by PayPal founder and transport innovator Elon Musk, whose SpaceX company produced the first commercial capsule ever to dock with the International Space Station. He recently launched the first Supercharger car charging station in the US.

The company used a $465m 'stimulus' loan from the 2009 Obama administration to rebuild a factory formerly owned by an unsuccessful General Motors/Toyota joint venture. Despite high-profile critics like Mitt Romney, who branded it a ‘loser', Tesla is now valued at nearly $20bn0bn and intends to repay the loan five years early to escape a clause allowing the government to purchase three per cent of shares at $7.54 each. The value of a Tesla share is currently about $90.

A letter to investors refers to a "strong global demand" for the Model S amounting to more than 20,000 orders per year. There are plans to launch a Model X' SUV in 2014 and a cheaper sedan is likely to follow.

With 7,000 of those orders coming from Europe, the biggest market in the world for electric vehicles, we should expect a significant shift in the UK car market. The government is already investing in charging points around the country and offering green incentives. Rising petrol prices could drive even the least environmentally conscious motorist to switch to the right car.

Expected in the UK this summer, the Model S will cost £83,000 and purchasers will be eligible for a £5,000 government Plug-in Grant. A February 'CAR' review described it as "the single most significant American car for decades". Declaring it a potential game-changer because it fully demonstrates the computerised EV's inherent potential, CAR awarded the Model S five stars for both 'performance' and 'feelgood factor'.

In this first quarter, UK registrations of alternatively-fuelled cars are already up 2.9 per cent. Research conducted last year by Motor Trader suggests EVs could account for 20 per cent of the UK car market by 2020.

In November a blogger for Trade Plan Insurance services was already predicting forecourts full of electric vehicles after observing the success of 'The RAC Brighton to London Future Car Rally'. Motor traders may need to prepare themselves for a changing commercial landscape.


BusinessGreen's Industry Voice blog offers experts from across the low carbon economy the opportunity to present their views, opinions and analysis on the latest green business developments

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