Norwich and Norfolk’s Eco Awards Heroes Announced

Shiitake mushroom growing, car sharing and food recycling were just some of the winning projects at last night’s Norwich and Norfolk Eco Award ceremony, which celebrates outstanding commitment to sustainability and environmental excellence across the county.

The ninth annual eco awards run by Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council drew entries from a diversity of businesses, schools and community groups from across Norfolk, and the winners were announced at a buzzing award ceremony at The Forum yesterday (16 March).
Praising the winners, this year’s host, Richard Powell, OBE, of Wild Anglia said: “It’s been an honour to present the awards this year. People from all over the county, from all walks of life, have demonstrated a real dedication to making our county a more environmentally friendly, healthier place to live.”

Councillor Bert Bremner, Norwich City Council cabinet member for environmental strategy said:

“It was a pleasure to meet the eco award winners last night and hear about the incredible work they’ve been doing: a primary school putting nature at the heart of learning, a local resident transforming their home into a carbon neutral dwelling, and a Norwich community project fighting food waste – just some of the amazing projects carried out by our winners.”

Councillor Martin Wilby, Chairman of the Norfolk County Council Environment, Development and Transport Committee, said:

“It was fantastic to meet our eco heroes last night and hear about their ingenious work in protecting the environment. It is always such a pleasure to hear about the variety of organisations, businesses and communities within Norfolk who are working so hard to encourage others to think about the environment and how we can reduce our impact on it. I hope next year’s awards will have just as many wonderful applications, if not more.”

This year’s winners were:

Eco primary school
Creating a wildflower meadow, native hedgerow, vegetable garden and pond are all evidence of East Ruston Infant School’s commitment to nature and caring for the environment. Making the connection between food and growing is also at the heart of the school’s outstanding eco credential including caring for Meg and Mog – the school chickens, and harvesting vegetables from the garden for school lunches.

Eco secondary school
Flegg High School have heavily invested in sustainable technology including a biomass boiler, solar panels, a wind turbine, and energy efficient lighting, all of which have helped reduce their carbon footprint by 72% since 2009.

The students also run a horticultural company, ‘The Great Growing Company’ in partnership with Adnams and Easton and Otley College. The students grow fruit, vegetables and herbs and supply local Adnams Pubs and restaurants and the school kitchen with fresh produce, reducing the carbon footprint.

Eco food producer
Woodfruits of Norfolk was established in 2002 and is a producer of exotic and gourmet mushrooms. The business was started on some neglected marginal land which has a natural micro-climate conducive to wild mushrooms. The business is now thriving and completely carbon neutral. They have our own solar based power supply, harvest rainwater for the process and harvest biomass for the heating system.

Eco small/medium business
The judges chose Norwich-based Ltd to be the eco business winner because of the huge contribution they have made towards reducing carbon emissions. Founder Ali Clabburn started Liftshare when he needed a lift home from university back in the 1990s. He posted the request on a student noticeboard and the next day there were three offers of a lift and idea was born! Today, Liftshare is the UK’s largest car sharing community, with over 500,000 members currently offering or requesting a lift. Members using Liftshare on client sites alone save 35,000 tonnes of CO2 annually at current usage levels, and take over 97,000,000 miles off of the roads every year!

Eco community group
For the first time in the history of the awards the same group has received the eco community group title twice in a row! FoodCycle Norwich takes the food that is considered ‘waste’ from supermarkets and shops and turns it into three course nutritious meals for between 75 and 100 people in the city every week of the year. Since they set up six years ago, the group have served over sixteen thousand meals and diverted over 22 tonnes of food from going straight to landfill.

Eco home
The winning entry for this category goes to a Victorian terraced retrofit project on Silver road in Norwich owned by Matthew White. In a short time, the owners have installed a range of environmentally friendly measures throughout the house, using high tech, yet organic and sustainable materials, such as earthwool insulation and water saving technology. Outside has also been utilised to conserve energy and encourage wildlife by fitting water butts, planting native mixed hedgerow and removing paving stones to make way for clover, grass and wildflower meadow. The owners also generate energy through solar panels. The judges felt this project would be an inspiration to others who want to create a more environmentally friendly home in an urban space and on a modest budget.

Eco hero Ltd also wins the title of the eco hero this year. The judges were so impressed that with just 22 staff based in a Duke Street office in Norwich such astounding results have been achieved up and down the country. In addition to their car sharing scheme, Liftshare also run behaviour changing workshops and undertake data scoping exercise to better understand travel patterns.

Highly commended entries were:
Rackheath Primary School, Reepham High School and College, Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way, The Master Composters, Little Ouse Headwaters Project, Eastgate Larder, Barnwell Print, East View Farm Holiday Cottages, Old Brick Kilns Caravan and Camping Park, East View Farm, Hamson Barron Smith.