Businesses report progress on pledges six months on from trailblazing young people’s green growth event

Date posted: October 14, 2022
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Six months after the Midlands Engine Young People’s Green Growth Assembly was held in Nottingham in March, organisations are making good on the pledges they made to help shape a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future.

Developed and presented by a group of Green Growth Champions aged 15-19 in partnership with Midlands Engine partners, the assembly involved a series of interactive and thought-provoking sessions attended by over 100 business and public sector leaders.

On the day, the business representatives heard directly from the region’s young people as they raised questions and sparked discussions about some of society’s most pressing challenges. To end the event, all attendees had the opportunity to submit a pledge card detailing how their organisation would commit to reducing its environmental impact.

Now, those pledges are being followed up. From wildflower meadows and meat-free Mondays to electric fleet vehicles, education programmes, and whole-site energy improvements, a wide range of encouraging stories are being shared showcasing how public and private sector partners are putting their promises around sustainability and green growth into practice.

Walsall Council pledged to prioritise decarbonising its fleet vehicles. After visiting Nottingham City Council depot to find out more about how they managed electrification of their refuse vehicles, and investigating H2/EV options with vehicle provider Faun-Zoeller, Walsall Council are entering the early stages of planning for procuring EV/H2 fleet vehicles in the future. It is hoped that a new hydrogen bus depot planned for Walsall will enable further progress.

DHL Aviation pledged to optimise energy use and improve waste recycling figures and employee awareness across their site at East Midlands Airport. Their new energy management system is due to go live in October 2022. They’re also currently out to tender to procure waste management services and a key requirement of the eventual supplier will be supporting DHL Aviation’s waste figures. On employee engagement, they’re ordering waste bins that take both general waste and mixed recycling, with QR codes that employees can scan to find out more about what happens to the waste, including previous years and live data. This is in addition to their existing sustainability commitments, which all contribute to achieving their goal of net-zero emissions by 2050

TDP Ltd, a recycled plastic furniture company based in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, pledged to make more products to help nature and to educate their customers and suppliers to buy and supply ethically. Since the assembly, they have created and are testing beehive stands and hedgehog boxes, hoping to put them on sale generally later in 2022. All product descriptions on their website now include carbon credentials. Helping to spread the sustainability message to other businesses, they’ve also become a Derbyshire Dales District Council ‘sustainability champion’ and won the Sustainable and Ethical Manufacturer of the Year 2022 at Insider‘s Made in the Midlands Awards.

Arup, the global built environment services firm with offices across the Midlands, highlighted their existing pledge to influence designs for a net zero future by undertaking whole-life carbon assessments on all building projects – new and retrofit. Crucially, whole lifecycle carbon assessments incorporate both embodied and operational carbon. In a recent rerport, Arup and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggested that as much as 50% of the whole lifecycle carbon emissions from buildings came from embodied carbon – generated from the manufacturing and transport of materials and the construction process (Net zero buildings: where do we stand? – Arup). Yet embodied carbon remains routinely overlooked by the built environment sector. You can read more about Arup’s pledge here: Arup commits to whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all buildings work and withdrawal from fossil fuels from next year – Arup

Following the pandemic, Arup have also restarted the company’s sustainable outcomes group, OvaGreen, which promotes local office initiatives. The group looks at internal carbon consumption associated to their total sustainable footprint, including things such as transport habits, coffee sourcing and waste. OvaGreen also promote other activities such as a ‘mow off’, where employees stop mowing their lawns, with a join target of wilding an area of 50m2.

Roadgas, based in Nottingham, made two pledges focusing on their place of work – to explore the development of wildlife for pollinators and also eliminate plastic use in the office. In common with many companies, Roadgas have found developing areas for wildlife difficult as they have limited land. They plan to speak with their local council and primary school to see where they can support planting elsewhere in their area. Installing a water filter has meant they’ve successfully made their offices into a ‘plastic bottle free’ zone.

 Intelligent Energy, a global fuel cell development and manufacturing company based in Loughborough, pledged to set up an education programme to inspire future generations into STEM careers in the hydrogen sector and that’s exactly what they’ve done. With 27 volunteers and CEO and HR support, Intelligent Energy’s STEM outreach programme is now training up ambassadors through STEM.org.uk. They’ve organised school talks and speed networking events as well as hosting work experience students at the company’s headquarters.

Staffordshire University pledged to give all its students the opportunity to become carbon literate, enabling all their graduates to become environmentally aware, global citizens who can influence others to tackle the climate crisis. Since the Assembly, they are now running Carbon Literacy sessions open to students and staff with the University paying for participant certification from the Carbon Literacy Project. They are also building carbon literacy into the curriculum of courses, meeting with School Management teams and course leaders across the university to see how this can be achieved. The first courses to test this are Archaeology, Architecture and Security and Intelligence, with sessions being run as part of their students start of the 2022/23 academic year.

 For further news on progress against pledges made at the Midlands Engine Young People’s Green Growth Assembly, follow Midlands Engine on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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