Reynard Loki is a Justmeans staff writer for Sustainable Finance and Corporate Social Responsibility. A co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio, he writes the blog 13.7 Billion Years and is a contributing author to "Biomes and Ecosystems," a comprehensive reference encyclopedia of the Earth's key biological and geographic classifications, published in 201...
London Calling: The 2012 Sustainable City Awards
"It is clear the UK is now far savvier about sustainability." -- Simon Mills, City of London Corporation
Last week, Great Britain's sustainability professionals took a moment to reflect on the past year's successes at the eleventh annual Sustainable City Awards in London, organized by the City of London Corporation (CLC), the elected municipal governing body of the City of London. Receiving over 130 entries this year, the awards demonstrate the nation's increasing focus on sustainability.
"Initiatives like the prestigious Sustainable City Awards are vital in bringing issues of sustainability to the forefront of the agenda which is why I was so keen to get involved in this year's awards," said Raymond Blanc, one of Britain's most respected chefs, who hosted the awards at Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.
AND THE OVERALL WINNER AWARD GOES TO: ALUMET GROUP
The Overall Winner Award was given to the Alumet Group, an SME contractor and renewable energy specialist whose "Sustainability Drive" demonstrated how sustainable practice can drive down production costs and attract new clients. Alumet also launched "Community Green," an innovative campaign which aims to make West Midlands and West Yorkshire the most sustainable regions in the country. Having secured funding of GBP 20 million (USD 31.5 million) to offer free solar PV for up to 2,000 local residential and commercial buildings, Alumet recoups the investment through the UK's Feed-in-Tariff. These solar panels will generate savings of around GBP 500,000 (USD 786,000) in electricity bills, reduce the area's carbon footprint and create around 50 local jobs.
AND THE FARSIGHT AWARD GOES TO: RESPONSIBLE RESEARCH
Responsible Research, an ESG research firm based in London and Singapore, received the Farsight Award for their report, "The Future of Fish," which investigates seafood sustainability. Supported by the CLC, the University Superannuation Scheme (USS), Gresham College and Z/Yen Group, the Farsight Award is given to the firm that produces the best investment analysis integrating long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
This year, the Farsight winner was selected from among 117 reports. The top shortlisted reports for the Farsight Award were the "Who Does What Where?" series (Bank of America Merrill Lynch); "Sustainable Fulfilment of Sovereign Obligations" (Bank Sarasin); "Islamic Finance: Combining Faith-Based Values and Financial Returns" (Credit Suisse); "Performance of Socially Responsible Investment Funds Against an Efficient SRI Index: The Impact of Benchmark Choice When Evaluating Active Managers" (EDHEC-Risk Institute); "Sizing the Climate Economy" (HSBC); Impact Investments: An Emerging Asset Class (J.P. Morgan); "Sustainable Stock Exchanges: Real Obstacles, Real Opportunities" (Responsible Research); "Responsible Investing 2.1" (West L.B.) and "Unburnable Carbon: Are the World's Financial Markets Carrying a Carbon Bubble?" (Carbon Tracker Initiative).
AND THE SUSTAINABLE FINANCE INITIATIVE AWARD GOES TO: SOCIAL FINANCE
Judged by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), the nation's main membership network for sustainable finance and socially responsible investment services, the 2012 Sustainable Finance Initiative Award was given to Social Finance, a London-based advisory group that develops financial products to support the growth of the social development sector. The group has issued GBP 5 million (USD 7 USD) worth of Social Impact Bonds to impact investors seeking to help social organizations reduce recividism rates among former prisoners of HM Prison Peterborough, a private prison in Cambridgeshire.
Three London-based organizations were shortlisted for the Sustainable Finance Initiative Award: FairPensions, a charity campaigning for the ethical investment of the nation's pension funds; Mercer, a global investment services firm; and Truestone Impact Investment, a social and environmental investment manager.
AND THE SUSTAINABLE FOOD "GREEN GONG" GOES TO: FENG SHUI
The "green gong" of the Sustainable Food category was awarded to Feng Sushi, a restaurant group that is working with local farmers to grow produce that is traditionally sourced from Asia such as mooli and edamame beans, in order to promote sustainable local production. Organized with Sustain, a charity that promotes food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance health, sustainability and urban agriculture, the award was judged by Blanc, who is the owner and chef of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a hotel-restaurant in Great Milton, Oxfordshire.
"[B]usinesses and organisations of all sizes with a range of resources are leading from the front and positively transforming their environmental impact," Blanc said. "Having judged the Sustainable Fish category myself, this trend is certainly apparent within the restaurant issue...In the past restaurant groups have been driven by profit margins but Feng Sushi's success demonstrates that both businesses and consumers are willing to change their habits to support sustainability."
UNITED KINGDOM: SAVVIER ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY
Other awardees included the Castle Climbing Centre housed in a Victorian pumping station; and Invisible Dust, a collaborative project of visual artists and scientists to raise public awareness about air pollution.
"With the spread of winners of this year's Sustainable City Awards including an art project, small businesses, big businesses and a hospital, it is clear the UK is now far savvier about sustainability," said Simon Mills, Head of Sustainability at the City of London Corporation. "It is clear that the current hostile economic climate is stimulating sustainability amongst UK businesses and organisations as they are driven to innovate, standout from their competitors and maximise their efficiency in order to survive."
 Wheelan, Hugh. "Farsight Award for ESG research and Sustainable Finance winners announced." Responsible-Investor.com. March 2, 2012. Accessed March 6, 2012.
 Family Business Awards. Alumet Systems (UK) Ltd. November 22, 2011. Accessed March 6, 2012.
 Ibid., 1.
 RaymondBlanc.com "Raymond Blanc at the Sustainable City Awards 2012." March 2, 2012. Accessed March 6, 2012.
 Ibid., 1.
image: Coat of Arms of the City of London (credit: Sodacan, Wikimedia Commons)