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The Path to Sustainability

June 12, 2024

The conversation around the path to sustainability in Hampshire and Surrey shows that businesses are starting to see the importance of balancing economic growth with caring for the environment. Working together with schools, universities, and the government is seen as crucial for coming up with new ideas and reaching sustainability goals, like cutting down to net zero emissions.

People are beginning to understand that sustainability isn't just about the environment; it also includes social and economic factors. More and more businesses are realising that going green can actually be good for their finances. Local projects like the Net Zero cluster highlight efforts to create green jobs and opportunities while moving towards a low-carbon economy.

The message emphasises that funding, training, and teamwork are key to making this green transition happen. Businesses are encouraged to see sustainability not just as an expense but as a wise investment for future success. As more people adopt this green growth mindset, there is hope for a brighter, more sustainable future in the region.


Sustainability is not just about making the right changes to benefit people and the planet. It's also about measuring the collective impact of our everyday choices to ensure that we are preserving and enhancing our natural environment, our quality of life and our economy to be sustainable. Businesses, academia and government need to collaborate to find innovative ways to achieve this.

High growth remains a feature of the Hampshire and Surrey economies, but it increasingly comes with a green growth mindset where companies focus on being sustainable while also being profitable. Thanks to these businesses, the region is expected to flourish, to new economic heights.

Adam Francis

“Sustainability, by its very nature, is about meeting the demands of today without compromising that for future generations. That sounds incredibly simple when you say it, but it's amazing how many businesses and industries have been built on completely unsustainable processes. So this should matter to every business because whether it's legislation coming down the pipeline or whether it is simply customers choosing where to spend their money.

Accountability of environmental issues is becoming a big concern in the UK. “

Patrick Wheeler

“Sustainability is a bit of a broad term, isn't it? So lots of people, when they hear sustainability, they think that it means, you know, reducing energy or having solar panels on the roof. And really sustainability is about doing what you can to make sure that you're using less of the resources and benefiting your environment and the people around you.”

Jo Holtom

“Sustainability is a journey for us, and if we've got opportunities to influence the way that we sell our landscaping products and really think about our core business as a landscape supplies merchant, and also to look at the way sustainability is embedded throughout our business processes. “

Nella Pang

“Sustainability for me is very much a holistic approach. So combining the environmental issues, social and economics and making sure that we're producing a more balanced development so that we're protecting the present and the future generation. “

A massive part of the sustainability journey is achieving net zero and offsetting carbon emissions.

James Bowyer

“Our greatest opportunity to close the gap between our expectation and reality to get towards net zero is to identify areas where we can pull change as opposed to push change. So pulling change is potentially the private sector wanting to lead by example, saying follow me. Large industries within the private sector setting examples and not quite dragging their supply chain, but influencing them to do the right thing and work in the right way.

And academia can pull us in the right direction by creating new technologies, educating and influencing people in the reality of what needs to happen and influencing us by knowledge.“

Jo Holtom

The impact of academia and scientific knowledge is paramount in the journey to sustainability and achieving net zero.

Academia and business can work so well together. It's really important. We've been collaborating with the University of Surrey, where they've been supporting us with developing some carbon impact mapping around our products.

It's been such a learning experience for us and we could have paid for a consultant to do that work for us and we perhaps wouldn't have understood it and they wouldn't have wanted to share their methodology. But there's a great opportunity to collaborate with academia, to help upskill businesses so that we can do this work and totally understand it going forward.”

Ayantika Mitra

“We could develop solutions with our academic partners so we can really accelerate getting the solutions to market. As a small business, we don't have the resources to do it on our own, and that's why those collaborations, those partnerships are incredibly important.”

Adam Francis

“We're working with the University of Surrey to develop an AI model, to work out the best ways to optimise biomethane production with different feedstocks

So that's integrating the two together. And I guess the final part is having people from academic backgrounds in businesses”

Having a green growth mindset and maintaining a positive outlook on the future is massively important.

Leah Robson

“As a business, if you want to have a green growth mindset is to not try to do everything at once. There's always, always going to be more that you can do to make your business greener, but you need to look at the things that are possible for you to do as a business at that particular moment in time.

So if you are about to buy a vehicle, is there any way you can do the research to see if that could be an electric vehicle, use those decision points that come up every day for every business to try and figure out the little small incremental steps that you can take. Because I think one thing that destroys a green growth mindset is the feeling that we're not doing enough.

There’s so much more we could do, the world’s kind of going to burn and we're not doing enough about it”

Investment in sustainable solutions within businesses not only positively impacts the environment that gives businesses financial benefits in the long run.

Russ Avery

“For any business, not currently taking sustainability seriously, I would say that now is the time to start because sustainability helps achieve so many things beyond just your business operations.

So it fosters innovation, improves business resilience and increasingly customers are expecting it of businesses. So now really is the time to start on your journey if you haven't already.

James Bowyer

“The investments that we've made in our roof to improve the thermal efficiency of the building, the investments in the photovoltaic array, the solar panels, they both have environmental benefits and financial benefits and other businesses realizing there are financial opportunities behind the environmental ones is a good driver to make other businesses want to change.”

The government has a huge role to play in businesses. Sustainable journeys through proper investment and incentivisation. They can make the transition more seamless.

Patrick Wheeler

“So the immediate priorities, as far as I'm concerned, really are to stop penalizing people for having clean energy at the moment with electricity prices going through the roof. It's very difficult for even a very diligent company to install a heat pump so that it's cost neutral to a gas boiler

So something like a type of use tariff where they can reward homeowners for having clean energy or certainly something that stops electricity being tied to gas and being expensive will make a big difference. And always, always it comes back to more training. So the more that businesses and people delivering low carbon can be trained to know what they're doing and to deliver a good project, as well as training and educating the homeowners and small business owners in what the right steps to do are makes a big difference.

And actually, in a lot of cases, when you're decarbonising and reducing your energy usage, you're going to be reducing your your cost of running as well.”

The green transition in the UK is one that requires many changes, but with the right steps taken, it can be achieved.

Russ Avery

“It's really important to acknowledge that while small businesses like ours are trying to lead the charge, we're just the beginning.

We need big corporations and big businesses to come on board and step up to the mark and show what they can do with their resources and the capital that they've got at their disposal and the influence that they have as well. “

Doug Johnson

“First and foremost, although this is probably not such a popular answer for the government, is that there simply needs to be more funding made available for businesses.

Honestly, at grassroots level, it is difficult to see that money kind of coming through. It's not very obvious at all. So there needs to be a continued push for funding in that kind of sustainability sector. So funding is a big one. The other big one is training. We're in a period now easily to the end of the 2020s, where we've all got to learn so much more than we ever have done before.

The green sustainable environment is changing and it's affecting lots of different aspects of our lives. And so we have to, in some respects, forget what we know, learn new things, understand that we don't know it all, you know, kind of better collaboration with partners to take that information on.”

Collaboration within industries is important as a united front between companies makes the path to a green UK more achievable.

Patrick Wheeler

“There's a weird thing, and I presume it's the same in most industries, but a lot of heating engineers and plumbers and people that work in my industry always see every other person that works in the industry as the competition and a little bit as an enemy. And it's usually quite friendly, but moving forwards in order to progress with a transition towards net zero and low carbon, I think a lot more collaboration is absolutely necessary.

Sole traders aren't capable of decarbonising a house on their own or building on their own. And so collaboration from within the industry and outside of the industry is going to be crucial. And we've seen a lot with partners that we're now working with. I would like to see some kind of platform where people can collaborate with other people that might be slightly outside of their normal remit and certainly engineers working together in order to deliver more than they could just on their own.”

Adam Juel Fabricius

“in terms of businesses in the UK, that's that's a really big opportunity for them to, to start doing a symbiotic circular green economy where they basically can start sharing their resources.

So if one one business is producing, let's say a distillery is producing gin here and sorry, there's a big one at the heat that they have as excess heat from producing that gin, they could be sharing that heat with either a business next door or they could be sharing it with the local community. So they basically be supplying low cost heat to residents and then they would also be lowering their operating costs.

So I think there's a lot of that opportunity. It could be other examples of a datacentre running here in Surrey could also be delivering low cost waste heat to to the residents surrounding surrounding that data center”

in the particular regions of Hampshire and Surrey. A low carbon, high growth mindset is growing within businesses.

Ayantika Mitra

“So within Hampshire and Surrey, we've been quite fortunate because a consortium has been put together to look at how can net-zero be delivered within this region and even just for one specific sector, say aviation.

So the local enterprise partnership has convened the net zero cluster, which is bringing together both industry, large businesses, small businesses, academia, as well as local government to look at how can we work together to create those green jobs which we know are coming and those green opportunities and really roll that out across this region. So that we not only meets that transition to net zero, but we actually create well-paid jobs and long term jobs for the future.”

James Bowyer

“Our opportunity to sustain the low carbon, high growth initiative across Hampshire and Surrey would be for local government and even national governments to apply the right incentives to push and encourage businesses to change. I know I've done it myself by wanting to encourage more businesses to change and in a more focused area. I feel local government initiatives with either funding or policies that would help and drive us all to change is the way forward.”

Sustainability within business is is not only about the green transition, but also has massive economic benefits.

Adam Francis

“Immediate priority is businesses have to understand their baseline target. So what are their carbon emissions? What are their biodiversity goals? What are they trying to achieve? Set that baseline target and work out what the big wins are and what they should be focusing on in terms of making it more appealing for businesses.

You need to switch it around and not look at it as a cost. Effectively, it's an investment decision and when corporates are making that investment decision, they need to look over the long term and see that actually the future policy costs and carbon taxes and potentially you could even be caught by the UK ETS emission scheme, those thresholds would be coming down, becoming more onerous and if you're captured by those, the future, when you factor in the future costs of those coming, it actually becomes an investment decision and a good investment decision to actually invest in these sustainable practices and changes to the business to avoid that future costs.

That's coming. And it's not just a simple environmental decision, it's effectively a financial decision.”

Sustainability is not only about doing less harm to the environment, but also about doing good through concrete actions.

Russ Avery

“Sustainability is no longer just the right thing to do. It's smart business. So by adopting sustainable practices, businesses can foster innovation, build resilience, build brand reputation, build more trust and loyalty with their customers and clients, and uncover new opportunities as well.

For us, walking the walk isn't just a phrase, it's our reality. And every day we're striving to be an exemplar of businesses which really can drive positive change in our world. The great thing about sustainability is that no two companies' journeys, will ever look the same. And I think that's right and the way it should be.”

in Hampshire, in Surrey, a green growth mindset is on the rise and continues to take shape.

Businesses see the benefits of being sustainable not just to the environment, but also in terms of economic benefits. It will be interesting to see how this develops to generate a brighter prospect for a greener future.


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