BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 13 Jun '17

Big Birmingham Bikes and smart thermostats for social housing are among the UK winners of 2017’s Ashden Awards

From a public bike scheme in China to the large-scale restoration of hydro power plants in East Tajikistan, the winners of this year’s Ashden Awards are all leaders when it comes to excellence in sustainable energy.

‘The winners of the Ashden 2017 Awards are truly paving the way in creating a low carbon future, tackling climate change from every angle by creating sustainable cities, and making access to clean energy easier and more affordable to the poorest and remotest in the world. We are proud to call these inspiring organisations Ashden Award winners.’

SARAH BUTLER-SLOSS
Ashden’s Founder Director

UK Award winners

Ashden Award for Clean Air in Towns and Cities
Big Birmingham Bikes (main image), a Birmingham City Council initiative, is a joint winner of this Ashen Award. It has provided four thousand free bikes and cycle training to residents living in deprived areas in order to improve peoples’ mobility, health and wellbeing, as well as to increase access to workplaces, education and training.

Nottingham City Council, the other joint winner of the Ashden Award for Clean Air in Towns and Cities, has introduced a modest parking levy for employers in the city – to help tackle congestion and associated air pollution – and invested the revenue back into sustainable transport measures such as electric buses, cycling, trams and a public transport smartcard.

UK Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings
The Passivhaus Trust promotes the use of Passivhaus techniques to design buildings, resulting in significant energy savings whilst simultaneously providing high levels of comfort and health. At the forefront of the Passivhaus movement in the UK, the Trust provides advice, training and certification to architects, engineers, suppliers and builders.

Ashden Award for Smart Energy
Smarter Grid Solutions offers smart hardware and software to actively monitor the electricity distribution network and manage renewable energy generators. Its real-time technology lets its customers make the most of existing network infrastructure and quickly connect increasing amounts of renewable energy in areas where the network had previously been considered to be full.

Impax Ashden Award for Energy Innovation
Switchee offers the first smart thermostat designed specifically for social housing. It monitors temperature, humidity, light levels, motion and air pressure to learn when a home needs heating and when it can be allowed to cool down, cutting energy use and carbon emissions by up to 15%, and enabling landlords to better manage their housing stock.

International Award winners

Ashden Award for Powering Business
Ecolibrium Energy is an Indian start-up addressing the need for demand-side energy management through SmartSense, its big data energy analytics platform.

Ashden Award for Clean Energy for Women and Girls
Empower Generation is bringing clean energy to vulnerable communities in Nepal, helping to eradicate poverty, improve health and reduce carbon emissions. The social enterprise is empowering women to become entrepreneurs by training them to own a business and manage a sales force.

Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and Water
Futurepump makes a low-cost, highly efficient and portable solar irrigation pump for smallholder farmers in Kenya and around the world, allowing them to increase their income by growing more crops all year round.

Ashden Award for Sustainable Buildings
Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT), a charity training young people in Uganda to build using interlocking blocks made of compressed earth, a low-cost, carbon-saving alternative to the environmentally damaging fired brick.

Ashden Award for SustainableTransport
Hangzhou Bicycle Service in China is the largest public bike share scheme in the world and, to date, thousands of bicycles have been rented for free more than 700 million times in the past eight years thanks to an innovative financial model.

Ashden Judges’ Special Award
Mobisol sells powerful solar home systems that allow customers in East Africa to use fridges, watch TV and charge mobile phones – and small businesses to operate – without relying on fossil fuels.

Ashden Award for Increasing Energy Access
Pamir Energy has so far restored 11 hydro power plants and built two new plants in East Tajikistan, linking 96% of households there – compared with 13% previously – with reliable clean electricity, enabling schools to re-open and allowing people to heat their homes in winter.

Ashden Award for Innovative Finance
PEG Africa is the largest off-grid solar company in Ghana, as well as a driving force for pay as you go solar energy in West Africa, distributing clean energy to the country’s most remote areas, including those without roads or running water.

Al Gore to speak at ceremony

The 13 winning organisations will receive their Ashden Award on Thursday 15 June at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker and Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy is hosting the Awards.

Ashden Award winners receive prize money along with a package of tailored support to help scale up their work.

Click here for more on the Ashen Awards and the 2017 event.