World famous recording studio Abbey Road to run on green energy

The world famous Abbey Road Studios in London, United Kingdom, is to run on wind and solar power as its owner Universal Music UK switches to green energy supplier Ecotricity.

Abbey Road – where the Beatles recorded most of their music around half a century ago – is the oldest, purpose-built recording studio in the world.

As well as the studio, Ecotricity will be powering the Universal Music UK head office in Kensington High Street and two other buildings the music giant occupies in London.

‘Biggest step a business can take to fight climate change’

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince says:

“Simply by switching to green energy, Universal Music UK will reduce the environmental impact of their own operations – while also supporting Britain’s energy independence and the green economy.”

He says switching over to green energy is the “biggest single step that any business can take to cut the emissions that cause air pollution and climate change.”

Industry Green award

In September 2016, Universal Music UK was awarded three-star certification under the Industry Green scheme – an environmental sustainability scoring system specifically designed for the creative sector.

The scheme – run by Creative Green is compatible with other environmental certification schemes including the Carbon Trust Standard, and British and ISO standards.

David Sharpe, Chief Operations Officer at Universal Music UK, says like many of their artists, the company is committed to sustainability and hopes “other organizations will follow our lead and take similar steps to power their operations with green energy.”

One of Britain’s ‘most disruptive companies’

Ecotricity was recently named one of Britain’s “top 10 most disruptive companies.”

The Virgin Media Business Disruptor 10 recognizes 10 companies that are “rewriting the business rule book.” and have a “business model, product or service that is creating a new market, or transforming existing markets and rapidly taking market share from competitors.”

Ecotricity made the top 10 in December 2016 because it can claim to be the world’s first green energy company and because its “electric highway” of 300 charging points in service stations around the UK is Europe’s largest. The green energy supplier is now pioneering production of carbon-neutral gas.

The supplier offers a number of ways for businesses to switch to green energy, from a simple 100 percent green energy tariff for small businesses to bespoke pricing for larger firms. They also install on-site wind energy schemes.


Ecotricity say switching to green energy is the biggest single step a business can take to fight climate change.  Image: Abbey Road studios.


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The top 5 green building stories in 2016

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that buildings are the largest contributors to climate change through carbon emissions. They are responsible for around 30 to 40 per cent of global energy usage, consume a third of total resources used, and generate 40 per cent of solid waste.

But buildings can minimize their own carbon footprint when they are powered with and generate clean energy. In the face of rapid population growth and urban migration, green buildings have increasingly grown in importance and have the potential to foster a more sustainable lifestyle among urban dwellers.


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Sustainability Leaders Raise the Bar Rather Than Toe the Line

While in the past I have written summaries that looked back on accomplishments and challenges in sustainable development over the last 12 months, this year, I’ve decided to take a different approach. Instead, on the heels of COP22, I asked sustainability leaders to share their thoughts about where things are today, and where they see things going. Of course many were encouraged by the more than 365 companies that pledged to continue their carbon-reduction efforts at that meeting in Marrakech.

“Companies that are embedding sustainability at the core of their business strategy will be the successful leading brands of the next economy,” says KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, founder and CEO of Sustainable Brands. “The Sustainable Brands Member Network, comprising over 60 brands representing $2.4 trillion in revenue, is the leading peer-to-peer, learning and networking group designed to support brands in meeting their sustainability goals and ultimately becoming leaders of the next sustainable economy.”

While there is comfort in these numbers, I also wanted to share thoughts from a sampling of companies across many sectors that have embraced sustainable development into their strategies, recognized the benefits and, if anything, are accelerating their efforts, which is good news for people, planet and profitability.

Cornerstone Capital: Exponential change will continue

“We are heartened by recent historical trends that climate change-mitigating technology, such as renewable power and battery technology, have fallen in price and increased in penetration faster than anyone predicted even a few years ago,” shared John K. S. Wilson, Head of Corporate Governance, Engagement and Research at Cornerstone Capital. “We believe that a combination of technological innovation, investor focus, consumer demand and governmental regulation, working together, has and will continue to produce exponential change.” 

General Mills: Climate action now common sense

“There is a business rationale, and an emerging consensus up and down the value chain that we need to act, which is why we have made ambitious commitments to support sustainability – through water, climate, our operations and our ingredients,” said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. “These commitments better position us to partner broadly on more resilient supply chains.”

Hostelling International: Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap

Hostelling International USA CEO Russ Hedge serves as a Vice Chair for the Affiliate Group of the UN World Tourism Organization. In support of 2017 as the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, his company is embracing the 4 Sustainable Development Goals they feel are “most relevant to our brand and nonprofit mission: Quality Education (SDG#4); Sustainable Cities and Communities (#11); Responsible Consumption and Production (#12); and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (#16). To support this, HI USA is creating resources for the greater public to raise awareness of sustainable travel, themed Pack Your Impact. These include guides, tools, and activities rolled out throughout 2017 designed to show the traveling public fun and innovative ways to be a more sustainable traveler.”

AMD: First-Mover advantage on climate change

AMD is proud that our company-wide climate targets are certified as “science-based” by the Science-Based Targets Initiative. AMD continues to build on our history of setting and achieving climate goals, which we will aggressively and voluntarily pursue into the future, regardless of the regulatory environment,” said Tim Mohin, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility for AMD Public Affairs.

Dow: Sustainability key part of how we do business

"At Dow, sustainability is an integral part of who we are as a company and how we do business. We are developing blueprints, through our 2025 Sustainability Goals, for a sustainable planet and society and have long been - and remain - committed to applying science expertise to create sustainable solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges," said Neil Hawkins, Corporate VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Dow. “What exactly does that look like from an implementation perspective? "We are implementing natural capital decision-making on a global business scale that has never been done before and are also well on our way to our goal of 750 MW of clean energy capacity, making Dow a world leader in renewable energy use.”

Miami University: Climate change education critically important

Doug Hammerle, Director of Energy Systems at Miami University, shares how they not only serve as a model, but are working on educating the next generation of sustainability leaders: “Miami University is a public university – that implies responsible use of resources in addition to learning. For us it means smarter use of resources, and learning among staff and faculty, as well as students. Sustainability at Miami University means reducing waste by increasing efficiency and being a model for innovative approaches to land, water and fuel use on campus. We want to preserve what we have and we want to grow leaders who will take sustainability to new areas and levels.”


While there was a great deal of attention – and not to diminish the importance of the agreement signed at COP 21, it is important to note that in many ways the commitments made by both the private and public sectors in Paris (and reaffirmed and ratified over the last year) weren't actually tremendously additive to what was going on already. And as the economics and coat curves play out, the transition will only accelerate. That’s borne out by companies such as Unilever: Back in May, Unilever announced that its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands were growing 30 percent faster than the rest of its business and delivered nearly half the total company growth in 2015.

Lastly, I turned to Aman Singh, a close friend, an accomplished journalist and one of the most ‘connected’ people I have met in the sustainability space, who now works with organizations of varying size and needs on sustainability communications strategy through RF|Binder. “I find our sector in a similar place as it was in 2008, right in the middle of the financial crisis,” she recalled. “I am reminded again that it is at the precipice that we evolve. When we’re put on the offensive, we emerge stronger – and that’s the ethos and mindset that I am going to take forward, and every business professional I have spoken with, every Twitter chat I have participated in, every podcast I have heard, and every op-ed I have read has shared my passion and commitment.”

With that in mind, welcome 2017.


John Friedman is Sustainability Manager at WGL. Prior to that, he headed corporate responsibility communications for Sodexo worldwide. He is an award-winning communications professional and internationally recognized sustainability expert with more than 20 years' experience in internal and… [Read more about John Friedman]

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CT Green Building Council's Holiday Party

Green Building colleagues networked at CT Green Building Council's Holiday Party at Two Roads Brewing!

photos of our holiday party

To see more Holiday Party photos, see our photo gallery!

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777 Main Street, Hartford CT

Bruce Becker of Becker + Becker Associates, Fairfield-based green development and architecture firm, welcomed Governor Malloy, Mayor Bronin, numerous state and local project partners to a green building celebration this morning at 777 Main Street, Hartford in recognition of the building’s recent USGBC LEED Platinum certification.

Bruce Becker stated, “This building represents a collective will to bring people home to downtown Hartford.  In addition 777 Main serves as a model for sustainable development. We have demonstrated that it is possible that we can live and thrive in Connecticut with a 55% overall reduction in energy use.”

777 Main is LEED® Platinum-certified and a net-zero energy building, producing its own heat, hot water and electricity without combustion of fossil fuels via a 400KW fuel cell and 115KW solar array. The project incorporates advanced technologies including energy and heat-recovery, Nest thermostats, high-efficiency water-source heat pumps, LED lighting and occupancy sensors, high-performance interior envelope, regenerative-drive elevators, and 11 electric car-charging stations.

Governor Malloy highlighted the state’s success in creating a housing department responsible for the initiation of over 18,000 new homes and over $1 billion of investment, emphasizing efforts to try to build housing downtown.  The governor noted, “in these buildings, to see a fuel cell used, this is a perfect use.  If you’re able to capture the heat you go from about 47% usage to 97% (efficiency).” 

The project’s installation of solar panels, in addition to the 400KW fuel cell, qualifies the building as a microgrid, the first in the nation financed with C-PACE, facilitated through the Connecticut Green Bank and Greenworks Lending.  Becker added, “with Micro-grid integration, it is possible to reduce CO2 impacts by 80% and airborne pollutants by 99.8%.”

Mayor Bronin credited the success of the project to both the tenacity of Bruce Becker as well as the commitment of the governor, through CRDA, to the revitalization of downtown.  The Mayor added, “to be able to see today not just the conversion of a vacant, empty commercial building brought back to life as a center of vitality in the core of our city but to also have the building be LEED Platinum is a home run, it’s exactly what we want to see in this city.” 

 Becker closed his remarks by stating, “While we have set a new standard in Connecticut and Hartford’s largest apartment buildings by achieving LEED Platinum, our work is still cut out for us in a more important regard.  We now have to share our lessons with others so that all new development embraces these principles as the norm, not the exception.” Becker thanked the public agencies that have helped to make the project possible including the State, City, OPM, DEEP and DRS, and the private corporations Greenworks Lending, Eversource and UIL. 

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