Carbon Battle Bus delivers net zero carbon message to local businesses

Hemel Hempstead’s local businesses and organisations came to Ashridge House on Tuesday to visit leading sustainability certification group Planet Mark’s 100% electric battle bus and hear from local people, organisations and community groups about the impactful and inspiring projects they are undertaking to reduce their carbon emissions.

The event, hosted in partnership with Prologis and supported by Herts IQ, was attended by 19 business and organisation representatives who shared their net zero carbon learnings and discussed the challenges they faced while reducing their carbon emissions.

Local charity and social enterprise, the Sunnyside Rural Trust, discussed how its new approach to garden and soil maintenance has improved soil sequestration whilst avoiding the need to use fertiliser to improve plant growth. The organisation is also pursuing funding to replace its diesel minibuses with a small fleet of electric vehicles.

Hemel Hempstead-based business, Furnell Transport, shared how it has been able to retain and attract clients by focusing on reducing carbon emissions across its own operations and the supply chain. The business has also secured a return on investment through making energy efficiency improvements to its buildings.

The event was part of Planet Mark’s Zero Carbon Tour, which aims to empower British firms and their employees to become part of a greater national effort to protect the environment by raising understanding of the action they can take to support the drive to net zero. It will also highlight the great work many companies are already doing to address their carbon emissions.

This phase of Planet Mark’s campaign is seeing its electric-powered Carbon Battle Bus – which also made the trip to Cornwall for the G7 conference – visit 30 towns and cities across the UK. Cambridge was the tour’s first stop on Tuesday 31 August and it will finish in Glasgow at COP26. Planet Mark aims to engage with more than 10,000 businesses during the course of the tour.

In the UK, the UN-backed Race to Zero effort is being coordinated by Kwasi Kwarteng’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department, working with Local Authorities, Planet Mark, the Institute of Directors, and others. The Government’s flagship campaign, Together for Our Planet, is also helping to raise awareness among the business community about the urgent need for firms to cut their carbon emissions.

Steve Malkin, founder and CEO of Planet Mark, said: “It was great to meet with businesses and organisations at Ashridge House and hear their carbon stories and learn the benefits small businesses can secure by reducing their emissions.

“Supported by logistics property developer, Prologis UK, this event is an eminent example of what the Zero Carbon Tour has set out to achieve. We are aiming to inspire, educate and provide the impetus for businesses of all shapes and sizes to take action, set zero carbon targets and implement achievable steps to deliver continuous carbon reductions over the coming years.

“By demystifying what organisations need to do to achieve net zero, as well as providing them with the practical tools and resources they need, we hope that all businesses – from blue chip corporates to local retailers and everyone in between – will be able to play their part in taking meaningful action at this crucial time to halt the climate crisis as we help the whole of the UK move to net zero. Collectively, we can make a difference and small businesses of all kinds can be part of the national effort to combat climate change.”

Simon Cox, Head of Sustainability at Prologis in the UK, said: “This was a great event which brought businesses together to share their learnings about reducing their carbon footprints. We are proud to have been able to share our own story about developing net zero carbon logistics buildings, which is something we have been doing in the UK for the past 13 years. These workshops are really helping to make a difference by increasing understanding about a really critical issue.”

Race to Zero is the UN-backed, global campaign to rally leadership and support from all non-state actors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery. All members are credibly committed to the same overarching goal: halving global emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions as soon as possible, and by 2050 at the very latest. Planet Mark is one of the campaign’s 11 formal partners for businesses.

Helen Pollock, Project Executive at Herts IQ, said: “This was a fantastic event which explained what net zero really means and how it benefits businesses. We heard from some fantastic organisations and companies who are doing a great job of moving towards net zero. LEPS with their Growth Hubs are committed to Levelling Up by enabling businesses to invest in net zero technologies and practices. At Herts IQ, we have devised ‘10 tips to help your business reach net zero carbon’ which includes simple quick first steps to start businesses off on their carbon reducing journey.”

Claire Furnell-Williams, marketing and development manager at Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the level of engagement that this event achieved with local businesses, promoting the net zero carbon message. Before the pandemic, we started up a working group called “Going Green” to bring all of our businesses together to share knowledge and resources. As a direct result of this event, this working group is re-forming and we will hold an initial meeting in October.”

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