More good VIBES

- 6:51 pm - April 2nd, 2019

“Inspired, good, convincing performances” – how often does anyone say that about politicians?  Roseanna Cunningham and Gillian Martin were exactly that at a reception held at the Scottish Parliament on the evening of 27th March to open the 2019 competition for this year’s VIBES Awards, and to mark 20 years of VIBES.  Happily and mercifully, I cannot recall anyone mentioning the ‘B’ word (no-one had added a ‘Br’ in front of the Exit signs either).

Hosted by MSP Gillian Martin, the reception was an opportunity for Members of the Scottish Parliament to meet some of the most environmentally innovative businesses, with VIBES Awards winners and participants coming from throughout Scotland.  VIBES is a partnership between the SEPA, Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust, Scottish Enterprise, HIE, Scottish Water, Zero Waste Scotland and the 2020 Climate Group, and further supported by the FSB, CBI, IoD, Quality Scotland and Bright Green Business.

Environment lead for the Scottish Government, Roseanna Cunningham MP, gave an interesting and enthusiastic start to the evening, outlining Scotland’s exemplary leadership in transitioning to a low carbon economy. Commitment was even more impressively evident in the case study snapshots featuring the winners of the 2018 VIBES Awards; a range of categories allowed for businesses large and small to gain recognition for their achievements.  Those exemplary winners are not naïve green innocents struggling to survive against more unscrupulous business rivals. Importantly, the winners are business winners too, achieving success commercially as well as environmentally.  Exciting examples included a small enterprise making big improvements to energy provision in Scotland, targeting the mis-match of local generation for example from wind-turbines, with conventional distribution networks – a national grid created on the basis of relatively few very large power stations.

Equally inspiring was a business recovering energy from potato peelings, soluble starch and cooking oil and fats by supplying catch all units at fish and chip shops and similar businesses.  One of the spin-off benefits of their energy capture is greatly reduced generation of ‘fatbergs’ and blockages in the sewers.  Their technology is being taken forward by Scottish Water and they are also talking with Thames Water and other water utilities.

Evident commercial gain for all involved – innovators and their customers – with environmental gain too, was truly inspiring, and rightly highlighted by Gillian Martin in her closing summary.

The event also announced a short-list of the best of the winners, for a special ’20 years of VIBES’ award to be made at the annual awards dinner in November.  10 successful businesses were announced.  None of the excellent previous winners featured at the event on 27th March made the final short-list, which only goes to show how high the standards have been.

Amongst the large number of earlier winners not making the short-list, was C&D Associates, who had applied for a partnership category with Taylor Wimpey and won in 2015.  Other partners were:  Central Scotland Green Network Trust, University of Abertay Dundee, and Scottish Government (Greener Gardens campaign).

C&D have developed a houseplot SUDS drainage system which was, in part, evaluated for managing flood risks by a Taylor-Wimpey (T-W) engineer as part of an MSc project at Abertay.  A full-scale in-ground unit was then installed at a T-W show-house. C&D designed a raised bed raingarden using the same principles (but also providing some treatment) and gave a unit to T-W which they also installed at the show-house.  That unit [SUDSBOX] has subsequently been commercialised and won a Climate KIC/Innovate UK award in 2017 and a best new recycled plastic product award in 2018 for the manufacturer, Marmax.

The third innovation at the T-W West of Scotland site was the creation of a ‘natural raingarden’ also designed by C&D Associates and installed by T-W.  That feature was designed to be at the lowest part of the garden and to accept rainfall runoff which would be managed by seasonal retention in a shallow, densely vegetated basin, which would lose most water by evapotranspiration once the growing season was underway.  There is scope for enhancing garden habitat that way, as well as keeping peak runoff out of sewers or reducing peak flows to streams.

Renewed interest generated by the event on 29th March 2019 hopefully will help progress towards more success for the commercial SUDSBOX units which are now available (and have won two more awards post-VIBES).  We are awaiting a date from Glasgow City for installation of a SUDSBOX at an existing property, and another retrofit or possibly a new build situation also in Glasgow.  We’ve recently been contacted by AECOM and by Scottish Canals in relation to 2 new housing developments in Glasgow too.