Cleanweb fuses clean tech and the Web as London Tech Week begins
There is more than one way to skin a cat. So there is also more than one way to approach sustainability.
The most talked about approach right now is the one that takes millions and millions of dollars of investment into solar panels, wind farms, recycling plants, electric cars and batteries. At our fingertips, however, a method that does not require the manufacture of new assets is another approach.
It is called “cleanweb.” In his Tech City article, “#LDNTEchWeek: Let’s make London the #cleanweb capital of Europe, James Johnston defines cleanweb as “a blend of cleantech [or green tech] and the internet, […] an alternative way to use the existing resources of people, green technology, data and the internet to meet the same sustainability goals.
Johnston expands on his definition later in the article. He writes, “Cleanweb sits at the intersection between cleantech, web technology, the Internet of Things and collaborative consumption. It uses the internet to democratize and connect. It combines technology innovation, new business models and commercial sustainability objectives with reducing our impact on the environment.”
This idea has strong promise in London, where Mayor Boris Johnson has “publicly backed plans to create a cleantech hub in west London” and where London Tech Week is occurring this week.
According to Johnston, the people of London are the city’s greatest asset when it comes to realizing the cleanweb. People have already created successful industries in finance, fashion and media, for example. What can prevent them from creating another one?
Johnston offers some examples of companies already using a cleanweb approach around the world. “BlaBlaCar are unleashing the power of underused assets through ride-sharing. Startups like Mastodon C and Demand Logic are crunching big data sets to find valuable insights for companies. Companies like Open Sensors and Xively are connecting machines together to support the Internet of Things,” he writes.
As much as an idea, cleanweb seems to be an attitude of taking all available tools, with people at the center and global warming as the problem to face, and creating new ventures that take this into account to create solutions. BlaBlaCar, Europe’s leading car sharing platform, according to Johnston, transports more people than the Eurostar every year.
Also involved in this attitude is the startup and technology culture, which has exploded in London lately. With all of the venture capital it has attracted—1.47 billion pounds to be specific—tech has become as important as banking or tourism in the city’s economy, argues Johnston. GP Bullhound has revealed that London now houses 17 billion-dollar unicorn companies, “with this success largely people-driven, mobile, flexible and supported,” adds Johnston.
Johnston concludes that London could be known for “addressing climate change, air pollution and recycling using data, the internet and the power of people.” Investment in cleantech renewable assets is still important but it’s “cleanweb that will bring about a true green revolution.”
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.