Category Archives: Overview

Collaborating Towards a Smarter Future

SmartKlubNo one individual or organisation can possibly have all the answers to a city wide smart and sustainable energy solution for Leeds.  It is about asking the right people for the right advice.

And it’s a difficult task.  How do you frame the right questions and parameters that will define the task?  Who do you ask for the right advice?  And how do you ensure that all interested parties, especially the local communities and businesses in the city are involved?

Perhaps this is why no one has yet solved the dilemma of a connected and efficient energy system on a city wide basis, that also provides real community benefit.

Quite simply the multiple permutations of different needs and solutions make the whole task almost impossible for one individual or organisation to manage.   A company specialising in photovoltaic technology can’t advise on district heating schemes, indeed digging even deeper who is to say that that PV supplier is even the best to provide a particular PV solution for a given project?

But how can the organisations and companies that understand the challenges and possible solutions effectively influence projects so that more and better projects are developed?

Importantly even this argument forgets the most important part of the whole debate – how will all of this benefit both the citizens and businesses in Leeds and how do we define what Leeds needs to achieve?

17751089139_ee5df80422_oSmartKlub Leeds was set up to address these very questions and to do something about them.  Gridlock is simply not an option if we are to solve the issues identified by the city – more about these issues later.

Competition is a good thing if we are to remain efficient, but to break free of this gridlock a new era of collaboration is also needed where all interested parties, the public sector, private companies both national and SMEs within the city plus local communities can all be bought together.   It means the overall needs of the city can be defined, particular projects identified and then the best answers sought.

And the more collaboration there is between all the interested parties the better; it brings a greater pool of shared experience and expertise to SmartKlub Leeds.

So what exactly is SmartKlub Leeds?  It is quite simply an organisation that connects the public sector, suppliers and local communities and SMEs together to help define and create innovative energy projects.

Leeds is undoubtedly a forward looking and innovative city having established the Energy Forum two years ago.  Working with them we have defined the objectives for SmartKlub Leeds as to save significant amounts of carbon, to beat fuel poverty, but with a sound business case.

Now we have started to identify projects and define solutions for Tower Blocksthese projects.   One of the first projects is to tackle the refurbishment of approximately 120 tower blocks for the council.  Future projects will explore how to manage energy on the council’s new build programme and connecting them to different energy sources, examining transport and mobility issues and then – well watch this space!

Importantly realising solutions to these projects is not possible without the expertise and solutions provided by the multiple SmartKlub Leeds members as a collective.  If you are not already a member then it really will pay dividends for you to join.

Find out more about SmartKlub Leeds and how you could get involved by visiting

Paul Connell is the Operations Director at Paul ConnorSmartKlub and is responsible for the implementation and management of SmartKlub Leeds in the city.

The next Smart Klub event is Wednesday 29 July at 9:30am covering transport and air quality.

Waste Not Want Not

LFHW_Leeds_22Do you ever think about baby elephants?

I’m guessing probably not, but did you know in Leeds the average household wastes 104kg of food per year which is the same weight as said baby elephant?

In the UK, we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes each year. Thinking globally, our population will increase by 6.5 billion to 9 billion by 2050 so we know that there will be demand on resources, especially food. A lot of that wasted food ends up in landfill, rotting and releasing CO2 in to the atmosphere.

In Leeds we’ve been working with Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) as part of their 10 cities project to ensure that food is tasted and not wasted. At Asda, we’re working as partners alongside LFHW, Leeds University and Leeds City Council to help people start thinking and acting on these famous 5 tips to reducing food waste:

  • Savvy storageLFHW_Leeds_25
  • Perfect portion sizes
  • Know your dates
  • Love your left overs
  • Planning ahead

LFHW has been holding some great sessions to help people become food champions. These sessions could be held in your workplace or your community giving practical examples showing how the 5 tips can transform the way people use food and save money too. ASDA Community Life

Our Community Life Champions work in the local community supporting good causes, charities and volunteering. They’ve championed LFHW in schools using our schools toolkit, teaching local children about portioning, storing food in the right places and how to get the best out of your food. Most recently the Asda team went to Shakespeare primary in Leeds to deliver LFHW lessons to over 300 pupils – a fun but busy day for all!

We’re proud to be supporting the Leeds Food and Drink Festival for the fourth year showcasing everything that our region has to offer. The month long showcase will end with a 3 day event running daily from the 5-7 June in Millennium Square, Leeds city centre. At Asda we’re passionate about food so this year our stand will be all about helping you get the most out of what you buy. Come along for some top tips on getting the best out of your ingredients, food waste games for those big and small, try your hand at our smoothie bike and watch some great demos of scrummy recipes to use up your leftovers. So help us make a difference to that baby elephant worth of food waste.

Come and join Leeds City Council, Asda and Love Food Hate Waste at the Leeds Food and Drink Festival on the 5-7 June and have a chat with us.  Or, if you fancy becoming a workplace or community Food Champion, email:

Laura Babb

Laura Babbs is the Sustainability Manager at Asda responsible for implementing the sustainability strategy, particularly working with Asda’s suppliers and customers. In her spare time she likes dancing and cooking but isn’t particularly good at either.

A New Year’s Energy Resolution

It’s that time of new year resolutions again and I wonder how many of us will be thinking about how we can better save energy and cut carbon.

But cutting carbon emissions isn’t just a nice to have, it’s essential for all of us.

I’m not taking any moral high ground here. I have a car; we don’t all have to knit our own muesli. The thing is to recognise that we can change things individually like our habits and expectations but there are things beyond our control, like transport infrastructure and how big companies use energy (because they’re providing the goods and services we ask them for), that we can only address collectively.

And that’s the key point, that’s why this breakthrough project is vital; only by progressing on all fronts can we tackle the challenges, and, importantly, reap the rewards.

What’s the problem?

There’s a lot of discussion right now on the ‘energy trilemma’ that affects us:

  • Energy security: fossil fuels are running out
  • Energy bills: increasing year-on-year
  • Impact of climate change: extremes of weather

The big areas that demand energy and generate carbon emissions and costs are:

  1. Buildings
  2. Transport
  3. Energy generation
  4. Consumption, materials flow, and wasted resources

You can’t tackle these individually; you have to breakthrough and confront them all.

Good news?

I know that can seem daunting, but the good news is that if we think about integrating, not trading off, these projects and ideas, then we’ll see multiple benefits:

  • Comfortable homes: people living healthier lives
  • Quality environment: improving how we see the world and what we aspire to
  • Social fairness: energy prices that do not create fuel poverty
  • Energy security: from sustainable sources

We can’t stop climate change overnight, but we still have the chance to stabilise the system and allow future generations choices.  Currently, we’re not just sawing off the branch we’re sitting on, we’re sawing off the branch they’re sitting on too, and that’s not fair.

How do we get smart?

A smart city isn’t just a digital city; a smart city is a city awash with data that can transform the way we make decisions.  We can use data and be smart – making intelligent decisions both moment by moment and much, much longer term.

Living in a smart city gives everyone the chances to get involved in taking decisions, and it gives everyone the responsibility to change our own decisions and do the right thing. Leeds Data Mill is a great example of this.

Technology is in our lives in ways we couldn’t conceive of a few decades ago. This is not a change we can’t face.  We do change, rapidly.  The trick is to direct that change, to accept and encourage technology where it helps us move in the right, low carbon, direction and to turn away from its seductions if all it is doing is helping us consume more.

Let’s create the new normal

A great man called David Mackay, who was chief scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, wrote “if we all do a little, we achieve a little.  We all need to do a lot”.

Some new year’s resolutions are hard to keep but, together, a Low Carbon Leeds resolution can become a distinct reality… be part of it!

Dr Alice OwenDr Alice Owen is a lecturer in Business Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement at the University of Leeds. Her current research work is on how to unlock the potential of small to medium enterprises (SME) and micro-enterprises… or the role of white van man in the grand scheme of reducing carbon.

Low Carbon Leeds – Be a Part of It

Last week, Leeds launched its ambition to become a low carbon city pledging to reduce emissions to become cleaner and greener.

We brought together the residents, businesses and communities to help answer the questions of what can we do to meet the target of reducing Leeds’ emissions by 40% in 2020 and be fully sustainable by the middle of the century. Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan explained why reducing carbon is important for the city and the people of Leeds.

Why is reducing carbon important?

Our guest speakers gave us 3 of the main reasons:

  • Healthier communities and families
  • Reducing fuel consumption rates as homes and offices become easier and cheaper to heat
  • Creating employment growth within the renewable energy sector and attracting new business to a greener city

So how do we get Leeds to become a low carbon city?

To make low carbon a reality, the event discussed 4 areas of focus  and came up with some fantastic ideas around who needs to be involved, what the big challenges are and what ideas (both ‘real world’ and the ‘sky’s the limit’) we could use.

1. District Heating (DH) Schemes

A way of providing heating from a single centralised source to a number of homes or offices. Projects currently under way are the Clydes tower blocks in Armley and the new Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility  in Cross Green. Conversation highlighted that energy providers and customers are key in all discussion around this work.

Challenges identified were ensuring enough people sign up for DH to make it cost-effective and that the people who need it most, those in fuel poverty, have the chance to be involved.DSC_3969

Ideas to make the scheme work were around securing 100% private finance investment or organising a campaign designed to get people to change their energy consumption habits to use less.  In a perfect world this scheme should be available to all the older housing stock (before 1920s) in Leeds.

2. Energy Efficiency

How to insulate, improve boilers and use less energy in both homes and offices. It was decided that government policy makers, private landlords, utility and energy companies should be heavily involved in this work.

Challenges changing the way people use energy, encouraging private landlords to invest in their properties and ensuring the Government have a strong policy on energy efficiency were highlighted.DSC_4022

Ideas organise training for people in how to be more energy efficient and look at introducing a minimum standard for homes and offices. The perfect world idea was to provide local authority funding and target communities where properties are of a poorer standard or energy consumption is high.

3. Solar Panels 

Ways of gaining renewable energy, like solar panels, can be installed on most buildings. Conversation highlighted that large-scale business and volume housebuilders need to be involved to use this technology as standard.

DSC_3983Challenges such as how do we store the energy, through to finding the funding and having a strong legislative framework to make this happen, were discussed.

Ideas around low costs solutions were aimed at training and education to make businesses and residents aware of the benefits. The sky’s the limit idea was to incentivise, or penalise, people through business rates and council tax.

4. Ultra energy efficient new homes

Leeds has a target to build 70,000 new homes over the next 15 years. How can these  homes be ultra-energy efficient from the way they’re built to how they are lived in. Discussion advised that large-scale developers, NHS, Planners and the Homes and Community Agency should be involved.

Challenges involve helping people understand the longer term social return on investment of making these changes or encouraging more innovative design from architects.

Ideas around installing smart meters in all property lead to the perfect world idea of building in the need for energy efficient and low carbon materials and practices in all procurement and building.

So what’s next?

A heartfelt thank you to all those partners, businesses and residents that attended the session or watched it unfold via Twitter.

Making Leeds sustainable by the middle of the century is a big, challenging ambition but one we think can be achieved with the support of the people and businesses of Leeds.

Focus groups are being organised in the new year to act as a sounding board to build on these ideas and projects that we all think can make Low Carbon Leeds a reality. Share this, comment on it or email us at

This is a big opportunity for Leeds.DSC_3974

Go on.

Be a Part of It.