Every year since 2010, a panel of environmental experts has chosen one exceptional city in Europe to be granted the title of ‘European Green Capital of the Year’. This year, 2015, the European Green Capital is Nektarina’s home city of Bristol. The award was envisaged to be a way to reward and recognise cities which are making continual, conscious efforts to improve their environment, become more sustainable, and innovate in green ways.
The successful bid was led by the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson. Before getting into politics, Ferguson was an architect, and served two years (2003-2005) as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, where “he was noted for championing the causes of education, the environment and good urbanism”. In 2012, Ferguson became Bristol’s first elected mayor, but his personal efforts have long had Bristol at their heart. Ferguson’s 1994 purchase and renovation of part of the Imperial Tobacco Factory is not only an laudable example of urban renewal and regeneration, but is also credited with kick-starting the regeneration of the Bedminster region as a whole. He’s known fondly by locals for his love of red trousers.
Although it took three attempts, Bristol has proven itself this year as a Green capital. This means that is has been formally recognised as a city:
- with demonstrable records of achieving high environmental standards
- which is committed to ongoing environmental improvement and sustainable development
- which can act as a role model for other cities, and can inspire them to adopt best practices
As we are based in Bristol, we thought we’d give a brief overview of what makes it a Green Capital.
Bristol is the UK’s city with the lowest per capita emissions of CO2. In 2010, Bristol’s per capita emissions were just 4.7t, compared to 5.6t on average in other major cities, and 6.6t average nationally. This low amount represents a reduction between 2005 and 2010 of 19%.
Bristol has also affected a huge shift in waste management, moving from over 85% of waste being landfilled in 2004-2005 to just 25% of waste being landfilled in 2012-2013. This represents a performance which is now 23% better than the national average, with Bristol producing 378kg household waste per capita, compared to 449kg as a national average.
This is an impressive performance, putting Bristol ahead of national targets to reduce emissions despite a growing local economy, a thriving industry, and a popular university.
How has it achieved these excellent levels of reduction?
Bristol City Council has engaged in many schemes to lower emissions and energy use, including:
- improving municipality buildings to reduce energy usage
- modernising street lights – so far 10,500 street lamps have been updated to use energy efficient LEDs.
- an Eco-Schools programme which improves energy performance and promotes climate change awareness in schools. Also involving 32 schools in a solar power project with an installed capacity of 568kWp.
- a 6MW wind turbine development on council owned land, making Bristol the first UK council to own wind turbines
- using schemes to promote awareness and alternative transport to reduce council transport emissions by 32%
- developing 15 new Biomass boilers fed by organic waste from park/street maintenance
- a £20m investment in improving the cycling and walking infrastructure
- improving public transport, with 10 new bus routes and new, more efficient vehicles.
- facilitating a network of over 250 businesses who have pledged to lower their own carbon emissions and make Bristol a low carbon city with a high quality of life.
- a scheme which has improved the energy efficiency of over 20,000 homes with insulation and improved energy systems
- providing bespoke and accessible advice to over 100,000 residents to help the community affect positive changes
- requiring all new developments to have an energy plan and to incorporate on-site renewable energy generation
- weekly recycling collection services for 14 recyclable materials
- a network of recycling sites and household waste recycling centres
- a massive awareness and informational campaign alongside social enterprises to inform and educate people about better waste management and how to lower waste production
- targeted and specially designed informative communications to encourage the reduction of waste and better waste management habits, including linking recycling to Islamic teaching and practices
This is just a handful of the strategies Bristol City Council have adopted to make sure that Bristol is not only one of the greenest cities in the UK, but also in the whole of Europe, and well deserving of its title of European Green Capital of 2015.
You can find out about events and more info about Bristol’s year as European Green Capital at the website bristol2015.