Interviews

Growing Business Awards 2010: Green Business shortlist

6 min read

07 October 2010

Five superstar green businesses. British growing businesses really are leading the world's green revolution.

A huge, new global industry is being built around the environmental sector and renewable energy. At the same time, many traditional firms are rebuilding themselves around low-carbon principles. The Green Business award recognises both types of company, and this year’s shortlist shows UK firms right at the cutting edge.

Breathing Buildings provides low energy ventilation systems, using the principles of natural mixing ventilation in winter and natural upward displacement ventilation in the summer. A spin-out from ventilation business e-stack (itself a Cambridge University spin-out), Breathing Buildings anticipates 177 per cent year-on-year growth and aims to be installed in 45 locations in the near future. In essence, Breathing Buildings uses heat gains within a building to temper the incoming fresh air in a natural ventilation system.

This involves bringing fresh air into a room at high level and mixing it with sufficient interior air prior to it reaching occupants. When using the e-stack system, supplementary background heating is typically only required when exterior temperatures fall below 10C. This means heating energy can be halved. With its new corporate brand, aggressive growth plans and new office in central Cambridge, 2010 is a landmark year for one of Britain’s brightest green businesses.

Another small, but high-potential business, PhotonStar‘s mission is to create a world-class solid-state lighting company by making energy-efficient, longest-life LED lighting products. PhotonStar’s LED focuses on innovations in sustainable LED lighting solutions, light engine design, biodynamic lighting and LED lighting controls. Traditional incandescent lighting soaks up around 20 per cent of the electricity in industrialised countries. LED solutions have the potential to cut the environmental impact dramatically. Sales at PhotonStar have increased by a factor of ten over the last year and the business is aiming for multi-million pound turnover in the near future. Analysts’ forecasts reckon that global LED product sales will reach $22bn in 2009 and $33bn by 2013, so this is a market worth gunning for.

The result of a merger between Wiles Group and Green World Supplies, Wiles Greenworld is a London-based office supplies distributor serving a customer base concentrated in Central and West London. The company has expanded from its core business of distributing office supplies to include a comprehensive recycling scheme and environmental consultancy. Today with a dedicated sustainable development director, the company is converting employees’ hearts and minds towards greater understanding of the environmental impact of their work. By applying initiatives such as remote working, shifting distribution to a night-time operation, moving to alternative fuels and a host of other operational improvements, Wiles Greenworld is well ahead of target in improving its environmental impact and making itself one of Britain’s front-ranking green companies.

Alumet is one of the UK’s top five specialist facade contractors, employing more than 100 people in projects across the UK. The £13m-turnover firm was formed in 1992. Developing its green credentials has been a priority over the past year, a commitment that runs through the whole company and is driven by a full-time environmental manager. The key elements of the programme have been: reducing consumption of resources at Alumet facilities; reducing waste and increasing recycling; responsible materials sourcing; encouraging biodiversity (the firm created its own wildlife garden!); expanding the firm’s product range to include environmentally friendly products; ensuring employee buy-in. In the future, the Warwickshire firm aims to generate all its electricity from renewable sources.

Business Stream is the leading supplier in Scotland’s competitive non-domestic water market. The compamy was formed only in 2006 and is today a £355m business with 223 employees. Recognising that water is often “the forgotten utility” and that business customers may not understand the full impact of their water processes, Business Stream has actively engaged with customers through its new “business solutions” specialists who work directly with customers on environmental and water efficiency programmes. This process of engagement has led to £10m-worth of efficiency savings across Business Stream customers – a saving of 3,651 tonnes of CO2.

Growing Business Awards 2010 newsflash:  Mark Prisk, business and enterprise minister and one of the most influential figures in the Coalition government, will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 Growing Business Awards, hosted by the CBI and Real Business.

Guests will also be entertained by stand-up superstar Stephen K Amos, who is about to launch his Stephen K Amos Show on the BBC.

Briitain’s finest business leaders and entrepreneurs will gather on November 25 at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square to celebrate the 2010 Growing Business Awards.  All booking details can be found on the Growing Business Awards website.