Robert Woodhead Ltd sustainability initiative scoops prestigious award

Robert Woodhead Ltd have won the Environmental or Community Initiative of the Year 2022 at the National Federation of Builder’s Construction of Excellence awards.

The company’s ‘Going Beyond Green’  initiative detailed efforts including:

  • The company’s 10 year Climate Action Framework which will lead them to their goal of becoming a climate positive contractor with zero single use plastic on site by December 2029.
  • The ‘Future Home‘ product which has been developed to meet 2025 building regulations today and can achieve NET Zero carbon. The results will be accelerated delivery, up to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions and up to £175 in tenant bill savings.
  • On-site carbon monitoring.
  • Launching an EV scheme for employees and progressing a vision towards an all-electric Fleet.

The event took place at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London on Thursday 8th April, with attendance from Business Services Director, Tom Woodhead, and Janine Broderick, People Development Director. The company also invited Estimator Scott Wilkinson and Assistant Project Manager Liam Thorpe in recognition for their great work they have done for the environmental efforts of the company.

Scott was instrumental in Woodhead’s support for the community woodland, securing 1,000 trees to be planted as part of the national pathfinding project in Bolsover. You can read more about this initiative here.

Liam completed his dissertation on embodied carbon and collaborated with Woodhead Group client, Nottingham City Homes, to undertake a focus group/presentation with their new build team. He encouraged Nottingham City Homes to consider the impact of embodied carbon in their projects and how to reduce it. Liam’s learning was applied to Woodhead’s Eastglade site, which consists of 106 homes, where the team prevented 116 Tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Subsequently, the carbon footprint of the foundations was reduced by 76%.

Robert Woodhead Ltd supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 190 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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Chesterfield’s Custom Solar produces UK’s largest rooftop solar array at the Port of Hull

Associated British Ports (ABP) has unveiled the UK’s largest commercial rooftop solar array based at the Port of Hull, after contracting Chesterfield company Custom Solar to undertake its construction.

The array will produce 6.5MW of energy, more than doubling ABP Humber Ports’ renewable energy generation.
ABP’s 6.8 million investment will save 2,600 tonnes of CO2e per annum, which equates to the energy needs of 1,450 average UK homes.

Simon Bird, Director at ABP Humber, said: “This has been a huge project for ABP and our appointed contractor, Custom Solar, to undertake. I’m delighted that the Port of Hull now holds the accolade of the UK’s largest, commercial rooftop array.

“Our ambition is to keep reducing the emissions that port operations generate, by implementing a mix of clean energy production, and investing further in hybridised port equipment.

“Every bit of effort and investment to lower our carbon footprint, contributes to the region’s environmental targets. This scheme and others like it, also help to secure ABP’s energy supply, making great commercial and environmental sense.”

The project team decided on using solar technology, as it could be installed on the vast space created by the port’s many warehouse rooftops. Custom Solar began installing the solar panels in October 2019, but the project had already been many months in the planning.

Teamwork was at the heart of ABP’s solar project, with the support of many external partners such as Northern Power Grid. Custom Solar began designing the scheme to make the most of the available space, in liaison with the port’s management team. Once the design reached its final stages, a detailed assessment was made of the electrical network to plan its necessary upgrade and strengthen it – a key part of the project.

The installation of the 21,000 solar panels, powered by 49 of global solar specialists FIMER’s PVS-100-TL 100kw inverters and 3 PVS-50-TL 50kw inverters, was completed in August 2020. The team were able to quickly adapt to COVID-19 working requirements, as their established working practices were already socially distanced in their nature, and COVID secure welfare facilities were introduced.

Matthew Brailsford, Managing Director of Custom Solar, said, “It’s another proud moment for the Custom Solar team and our client, Associated British Ports, as we deliver yet another iconic rooftop solar system. Obviously this one is in a very special bracket all on its own being the UK’s largest.

“The project was in planning for nearly two years before beginning construction due to the sheer complexity of the system we delivered, this is yet another reason why the system is incredibly unique and bespoke to the client’s needs and environment.

“With carbon reduction, CSR and keen financial savings on the agenda of all large corporations during such a challenging time, we see solar as the perfect fit. The future is solar powered, and we are glad to be leading the way.”

FIMER’s chairman Filippo Carzaniga, comments: “FIMER is delighted to be supporting this new era for the UK’s solar energy market. This was a ground-breaking project, which marks our first major solar development in the country, and the largest installation of its kind.

“It demonstrates how powerful solar power can be and, we are proud to have worked closely with ABP and Custom Solar to make this vision a reality.”

17 of ABP’s 21 ports now have renewable energy projects attached. The addition of the solar scheme in Hull means that ABP’s Humber Ports can produce 29% of their energy requirements, and ABP isn’t stopping there.

Simon added: “Having now completed the solar arrays on the Ports of Immingham, Goole and Hull, ABP has already started work to understand the next phase of our ambition. Grimsby will be our focus, as the port is home to the growing offshore wind sector, we would once again like to reduce our carbon footprint using a mix of clean energy generation.”

ABP launched its core strategy in January 2020, which outlines the company’s commitment to accelerating green energy generation and storage for its port operations, as well as for new manufacturing sites in their ports. Over the last two years ABP Humber has also been investing in hybridised cranes and electric forklifts, to make the most of its onsite energy generation.

Find out more about our recent Chesterfield Round Table event, where the topic of business sustainability was discussed in detail.

Custom Solar Ltd. supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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Sustainable East Midlands campaign launched to put region at forefront of UK’s ‘Build Back Greener’ vision

East Midlands Chamber has urged the region’s businesses to go green and reap the benefits to their bottom line in a new campaign.

The Sustainable East Midlands initiative will highlight both the business case and regulatory requirements for companies that engage with the low-carbon agenda.

It includes a new online information portal that will point firms to financial support available to them and a series of educational events, beginning with the East Midlands Energy Summit later this month.

The campaign has been launched following research by the Chamber and University of Derby, which highlighted how sustainability is rising up the business agenda – but also showed a gap in awareness for many organisations.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “With the seismic shift in the economy and the way businesses look to develop new ways to operate, there is no better time to focus on the opportunities and the potential offered by the sustainability agenda.

“With its manufacturing heritage, innovative businesses and academic base, the East Midlands has the raw ingredients to be at the forefront of delivering a low-carbon economy – particularly important at a time when the UK Government has a vision to ‘build back greener’ from the pandemic.

“This isn’t just about sustainability for the sake of being greener, as this translates into the bottom line of businesses through efficiency and resilience. Adopting greener credentials reduces running costs and helps to win new contracts and business.

“The Sustainable East Midlands campaign will play a pivotal role in shining a spotlight on the great companies already heavily engaged in the low-carbon agenda, while signposting more businesses in this direction – because now is the time to take responsibility and reap the rewards.”

University of Derby and East Midlands Chamber research on sustainability engagement and awareness among businesses

Sustainable East Midlands is the product of a long-standing partnership between the Chamber and University of Derby, which has yielded unique data about the region’s engagement with the sustainability agenda.

In February, the university included a set of questions related to this topic for the Q1 2020 edition of the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey, which explores a range of business interests to gauge the state of the region’s economy.

More than 400 Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire businesses took part in the survey and it showed the percentage of businesses deriving turnover from low-carbon and pro-environmental goods and services has nearly doubled between 2015 and 2020 – growing from 16% to 31% during this period.

Just over a third (35%) of businesses said they were integrating clean growth into their business plan, while the proportion of firms not considering clean growth opportunities at all had decreased from 36% in 2018 to 14% in 2020.

On the flip side, four in 10 businesses said they did not feel well-informed about support for clean growth.
Dr Fred Paterson, an associate professor at the University of Derby and the Low Carbon Business Network lead at Derby Business School, led the research team.

He said: “There is growing evidence that companies putting environmental sustainability at the heart of their operations are more successful and more likely to survive over time than other firms.

“At the same time, the UK low-carbon economy has been growing steadily for more than a decade and has weathered storms like the financial crash of 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic better than other sectors of the economy.

“It’s no surprise that our research has shown the number of businesses in the East Midlands that provide pro-environmental goods and services has doubled over the past five years.

“The Sustainable East Midlands initiative is therefore a really welcome support for the increasing number of smaller business that want to build their sustainable credentials and grow their business in ways that are also positive for the environment.”

The topic of sustainability was also discussed recently at the Destination Chesterfield Round Table event, with several local business figures speaking on what more can be done to drive sustainability in our region.

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