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How do you run a sustainable business in 2022?

Running a sustainable business in 2022

During the pandemic business owners were forced to use digital techniques for running their businesses. Whether it was using enhanced telephony, reaching into employees homes, or the many Zoom meetings we all used to keep in touch with staff, clients and suppliers.

Lockdown forced us to use technology instead of face to face meetings, thereby reducing our carbon footprint, and then Putin invaded Ukraine which accelerated the global need to reduce our reliance on carbon fuel and control the cost of energy.

As those costs soared, the Chamber of Commerce realised that we needed to explore alternatives to gas as a matter of urgency so we began to plan a panel discussion to demystify sustainable energies. We reached out to EcoAction (EEAN) and discovered that they were already planning a big event to focus on solar energy, so we agreed to join forces with them. Eastbourne Borough Council was already on board due to their Carbon Neutral 2030 target and so the Solar Summit became the Sustainable Business and Solar Summit.

The event brought together stakeholders vital to our climate emergency strategy including Chamber Members, sustainable business advisors, renewable technology suppliers and installers, landlords, local businesses and community groups.

Christina Ewbank, of Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce said “The event was a triumph of collaboration between so many different local partners, and our thanks go out to EcoAction for organising the event, especially Jill Shacklock and Robert McGowan who did most of the heavy lifting.
"They had realised that while Eastbourne is recognised as the sunniest town in the UK there are hardly any solar panels across the town! So they decided to do something about it. As a result, I learnt so much on the day and now have a road map for reducing the energy usage in our Victoran office in Gildredge Road."

Jason Lindfield of OHM Energy said: “It was great to see people working together, including the Planning Department of the Council, East Sussex College Group, Caroline Ansell MP and so may Chamber Members and local businesses.” OHM Energy have provided the Chamber with excellent advice about insulation and the many alternatives to carbon derived energy. If you would like to find out more, call OHM on 01323 739474.

Corin Dudley of CDS Electrical gave the Chamber invaluable advice about heating alternatives including the merits of efficient boilers and air source heat pumps. If you would like to talk to them about solar panels and energy storage batteries, call CDS on 01323 734162. Having imagined these batteries would be the size of a shed, it was interesting to see that they are now the size of a very small suitcase!

Chamber members Birchwood Group were at the event with a selection of electric vehicles and were on hand to discuss the funding options available. If you would like to know more, call Andrew Liddle on 01323 409088.

Councillor Jim Murray, chair of planning at EBC said: “It was very exciting to see and hear so many like-minded people, all committed to furthering the use of the latest green technology to generate clean and sustainable energy. As the sunniest town in the country, we should be leading the way in solar technology and this event is the first of many to help support that target.”

It was clear from the event that the Council's planning department understands how important it is to introduce solar panels on our roof tops, even in the conservation areas of town. As long as panels are flush to the roof and well fitted, planning permission should be given; it is therefore the Chamber's intention to install solar panels on the roof of Chamber House as soon as possible and apply for retrospective planning permission. (We suggest Members do their own research and make their own decisions about when to apply for planning permission.)

Jill Shacklock, director of EEAN, said: “What was very clear was the willingness of councils, community groups and local business to work together, which is essential if we are to make progress towards our 2030 carbon neutrality target.”

MP Caroline Ansell said: “Our solar summit was a hugely informative event and a brilliant springboard for action. I thank organisers and sponsors for bringing us all together to map out a number of ways forward.”

For the presentations made on the day, click here.