National Trust wins £20k for efficiency efforts

31st May 2012


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The National Trust has scooped one of the top prizes at this year's Ashden awards after cutting energy consumption at its Welsh properties by 40% in just two years

The charity was named last night (30 May 2012) as one of the 12 winners sharing £200,000 of prize money, which is awarded by the Ashden Trust to organisations that make outstanding efforts to promote sustainable energy in the UK and internationally.

Presenting the trust with the UK gold award, host Anna Ford said the judges were impressed by the National Trust’s massive energy savings, which have cut costs by £280,000 a year, and for the way in which it engaged its staff.

In accepting the award, the trust’s deputy director Peter Nixon said: “Older buildings are often thought of as more difficult to treat in terms of making them energy efficient, and certainly there are challenges. Meeting those challenges has only been possible through a fundamental cultural change. It is people – all our staff, all of our volunteers, changing their attitude and their approach.

“What we’ve done, is not achieve this through a dash to technology, but by understanding how old buildings work. Working with the grain them, understanding them, managing them and using less.”

The other four UK award winners, which each received £10,000, were: Energy4All – a leader in helping communities groups finance wind farm developments; Parity projects – an advice service on retro-fitting buildings to make them more energy efficient; Student Switch Off – a campaign to engage young people with energy savings; and the University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) – an NHS trust that has cut energy use by 35% through investing in new technology and engaging staff on energy efficiency.

UHSM communications director Susan Osborne said the key to the hospital’s success was that being green was seen as everyone’s responsibility.

“Being Britain’s greenest hospital is so important to us, it given us a greater sense of pride of who we are and lifted the spirits of our patients and the 6,000 people I work with everyday,” she said in collecting the prize. “We want to share our success with other NHS hospitals and public sector organisations. If we can do it anyone can.”

This year’s international gold award, with a cash prize of £40,000, was presented to SKDRDP, a microfinance organisation based in southern India, which lends money to families to invest in renewable energy systems.

SKDRDP was cited by keynote speaker Dr Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the UN’s Industrial Development Organisation, as a great example of the type of new business model that was needed to tackle the twin challenges of poverty and access to energy in developing countries.

Firms bringing hydroelectric technology to remote areas of Afghanistan (GIZ/INTEGRATION) and Indonesia (IBEKA) were also announced as international winners, alongside Barefoot Power – a firm bringing affordable solar energy to homes in Africa – and iDE Hydrologic – which sells a low-cost water filter providing families in Cambodia with access to clean water without burning much-needed wood.

The 12th awards, also saw the first Sustainable Travel Awards presented to UK company liftshare.com – which helps more than 500,000 individuals reduce their carbon footprint by car sharing – and the Belgian city of Ghent – which has transformed its centre into a car free zone and encouraged residents to cycle. The £30,000 prize, which is sponsored by Eurostar, will be shared between the two winners.

More information on all the winners and details of how to apply for the 2013 awards are available from the Ashden website.

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