Bristol City Leap: Leading The Way

Watch the recording here

On Thursday 29th September Future Leap hosted the much anticipated “Bristol City Leap: Leading The Way” evening event. This event was kindly sponsored by the City Leap partnership, with talks from Bristol City Council, Ameresco, and Vattenfall. 

Guests were welcomed to our Gloucester Road Hub. Tea, coffee, and sweet treats were made available before the guests were invited to take their seats in the event space for the talks. 

Katherine Piper, Director of Partnerships and Sustainability at Future Leap, kick-started this portion of the event by warmly welcoming the in-person and online attendees and giving a brief explanation about the organisation’s principles and mission. She concluded this introduction by inviting guests to join Future Leap at their Festival of Sustainable Business, before handing over the mic for the first talk: Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member of Environment, Ecology, Energy, and Waste at Bristol City Council. 

Kye began by acknowledging that any information on City Leap has been long-awaited, which goes to show the significance of this event and its overall undertone – one of positivity and excitement for Bristol’s future. He explained Bristol City Council’s motivation to decarbonise the city, and its search for investors across the globe; Ameresco won this bid, with sub-contractor Vattenfall to assist. He introduced the guests to the resulting joint venture project, City Leap, as well as outlined its goals of decarbonisation and its plan of finance. One aspect of this talk that really resonated was that Kye expressed his hope that this 20-year project would create an “ecosystem catalyst”, having a positive effect on the environment and Bristol communities. 

The next talk was by Mark Apsey, Managing Director at Ameresco. He began the talk by stressing the issues caused by global warming, and how we have all felt its effects. There was an underlining theme of collaboration, which is at the heart of City Leap, and Mark explained two important components of the project: engaging with community groups/people at home and continuing to get more city investment. The goals of City Leap were outlined, such as social value benefits and energy as a service, as well as how decarbonisation would be achieved – reduce consumption, improve efficiency, and generate renewables. Mark concluded his talk by describing how owners of estates/businesses could get involved, as well as how to contact them for funding of community energy projects. 

The last talk of the evening was by Bindi Patel, Head of Customer Experience at Vattenfall Heat UK. She began by introducing the group to the company, which develops low carbon city-wide heat networks, and explained Vattenfall’s identity as “sustainability as a business strategy”. The creation of a sustainable heat network is a key project of City Leap to decarbonise Bristol, utilising renewable energy as well as capturing waste heat to fuel the network. Bindi went on to highlight that there needed to be a focus on making this project futureproof, as well as emphasising the importance of collaboration for its success. 

At the conclusion of the talks, the space was made open to the attendees for a Q&A. This was a dynamic and thought-provoking discussion, with questions covering topics such as: 

  1. Logistics of the heat network 
  1. Financing of City Leap projects 
  1. How to engage communities and promote behavioural change 
  1. Plans for investing in transport 
  1. Future of hydrogen 

60-second pitches were from Termex, Bristol Energy Network, and the C.H.E.E.S.E Project, and the guests were then free to continue their conversations over more food and beverages; an end to a very exciting and valuable evening. 

We would like to thank the sponsor City Leap, speakers, and attendees for their contributions, without which our events programme would not be possible. 

Written by Future Leap Volunteer: Harriet Rainbow, Application Support Engineer, ParentPay 

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