Tag Archives: Business


We’ve worked closely with B&Q, a leading UK retailer and the first One Planet Company, over the last ten years to help it use One Planet Living to drive its sustainability efforts

Greening a DIY giant

In 2007 we helped B&Q develop and launch its One Planet Action Plan,  an ambitious strategy which marked the beginning of its sustainability programme – One Planet Home. This partnership has become one of Bioregional’s longest-running and most important collaborations. 

Each year we review B&Q’s progress against its sustainability targets set out in this plan, and tell the story of its progress. 

Sustainability is now embedded into many of B&Q’s core functions ensuring that its energy use and transport, for example, continue to become more efficient. Ongoing engagement with buyers ensures that supply chain risks are minimised and innovative new products and services are continually sought.

B&Q’s One Planet achievements

Cumulatively these efforts have had a huge impact in reducing B&Q’s impacts and improving its bottom line since 2006/7 including:

  • A saving of 762,546 tonnes CO2e through a 41% reduction in its absolute carbon footprint
  • Reducing costs by £164m through better energy, transport and waste management
  • 40% of sales from products with sustainability credentials

Developing a better understanding of its footprint has allowed B&Q to focus on specific initiatives to reduce its environmental impacts, while saving money. Like many other retailers B&Q has achieved high levels of diversion from landfill (now 99%) but it is also striving to ensure that wherever possible waste is prevented or recycled.

With over three million customers a week there is a huge opportunity for B&Q to make the nation’s homes greener. 40% of its sales are now from products with sustainability credentials.

You can download our latest 2015/16  sustainability review using the link on the right.

The Nature of Gardens

We have also worked with B&Q on a number of specific initiatives and projects to support its move towards a One Planet future. In 2017, B&Q commissioned us to research and write an in-depth report on the value of UK gardens to nature.

After reviewing over 100 reports, the Nature of Gardens report  concluded that:

  • Gardens are vital for Britain’s declining wildlife
  • Wildlife and nature are good for people’s mental and
    physical health, and our gardens are one of the most
    important places where this happens.

Our findings were combined with the results from extensive B&Q commissioned consumer research into people’s attitudes towards wildlife in their gardens, plus a list of top ten tips for less experienced gardeners on how to support wildlife. Check these out

Launched in Spring 2017, The Nature of Gardens was endorsed by leading wildlife and gardening organisations including the Royal Horticultural Society and the RSPB.

Alongside, B&Q announced that to help protect our bees, it will stop using neonicotinoid pesticides from 2018 for all the flowering plants it sells.

About our partner

B&Q is the leading home improvement and garden retailer in the UK and the third largest in the world. It has more than 300 stores in the UK and Ireland and sales in 2014/15 of £3.8 billion.

Bicester pips competition to win green apple award

bicesterThe organisations behind the delivery of 6,000 true zero carbon homes at North West Bicester have won an international award for their dedication to sustainability

Cherwell District Council’s EcoBicester team, Bioregional and NW Bicester eco-town developers A2Dominion have jointly been awarded the Green Apple Environment award for the Built Environment category.

The awards recognised the organisations’ One Shared Vision initiative to extend the sustainability concept for 6,000 true zero carbon homes at NW Bicester in Oxfordshire, the UK’s first eco-town, across the rest of the town. The first, Exemplar phase with just under 400 homes is now under construction.

The annual Green Apple Environment awards have been awarded  since 1994 to promote, recognise and reward schemes which promote environmental best practice across the world.

Lewis Knight, Bioregional’s Bicester Eco Town project manager said: “This is an ambitious project that will make sustainable living a reality. Being recognised as a One Planet Community differentiates the first, Exemplar phase o f NW Bicester from other schemes claiming green credentials and positions the project amongst some of the greenest neighbourhoods in the world.”

Gabi Kaiser of Cherwell’s EcoBicester project team, said: “The main achievement of the EcoBicester programme is to encourage the growth in sustainability culture and awareness of environmental issues by the people and businesses of Bicester. It is founded on a strong aspiration to ensure existing residents feel the benefits of the development at NW Bicester by creating a low carbon strategy for the town.”

Louise Caves, strategic partnership manager at A2Dominion, said: “Through partnership working we are able to create a truly exemplary and sustainable town for the 21st century.”

The Green Apple Awards are organised by the not-for-profit Green Organisation to promote sustainable living. Cherwell, Bioregional and A2Dominion were nominated for an award in the Built Environment category which recognises the success of the Eco-town development and the wider sustainability work across all of Bicester.

In their award submission, the three partners highlighted the high sustainability standards being met through the new development, including the use of a combined heat and power plant and photovoltaic panels to supply electricity and heat to homes. These efforts have helped the site to become one of only nine One Planet  Communities worldwide, with a sustainability action plan endorsed by Bioregional and based on ten One Planet Living principles.

Across the rest of Bicester, sustainability efforts have included a town-wide retrofitting of public and community buildings as well as individual homes and annual bike days.

For more information on the awards visit www.thegreenorganisation.info

Eco Bicester Living Lab PhD studentship opportunity

Help evaluate the actual performance of building progress of the UK’s first eco-town, the NW Bicester Exemplar development, against the aspirations set for the eco-town as an endorsed One Planet Community.

The Low Carbon Building (LCB) Research Group of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) and School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University are pleased to offer a three-year full-time PhD Studentship starting in May 2015. The studentship is funded by Oxford Brookes University to mark its 150th Anniversary, Bioregional, Cherwell District Council and A2Dominon, under the umbrella of the Eco-Bicester Living Lab (EBLL). EBLL is a unique cross-sector and cross-disciplinary initiative established by OISD and Bioregional, in which novel ideas related to sustainability are tested in the urban realm with the explicit goal of learning for continuous feedback and improvement.

The successful applicant will receive an annual bursary of £11,000 for three years and the tuition fees will be paid by the University. The successful candidate will be based within the LCB Group, under the supervision of Professor Rajat Gupta (Director of OISD and LCB Group) and BioRegional.

Topic of research: Evaluating the actual performance of the NW Bicester Exemplar development against the aspirations set for an eco-town and one planet community

The first phase of NW Bicester eco-town development known as the Exemplar is currently on site and involves construction of 393 highly energy-efficient homes, creating UK’s first true zero-carbon community. The doctoral research study will be designed to address the overarching question: How effective is an exemplar development in meeting the design expectations of an eco-town and aspirations of a one planet community?

The underlying approach will be case-study based, adopting mixed-methods, drawing from building performance evaluation (BPE) techniques and carbon foot-printing methods, combining empirical quantitative data collection (physical monitoring, carbon and ecological footprint analysis) with qualitative methods (questionnaire survey and interviews).

As a successful applicant, you will join an internationally leading research group and will be expected to contribute to the wider research activities of the LCB Group and Eco-Bicester Living lab.

Eligibility: Applications are invited from Home/EU/International students. We are looking to recruit a candidate of the highest quality and who is capable of submitting a Ph.D. thesis within 3 years. Applicants are expected to have completed a relevant Masters degree prior to the Studentship start date. The Studentship holder may also be required to complete supplementary research methods training in their first year of study. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate strong research capabilities and be fluent in spoken and written English.

The selection criteria will focus on academic excellence, suitability of research experience and skills, subject knowledge and references.

Deadline: The closing date for applications is 17:00 on Monday 16 March 2015
Interview date:
Interviews will be held in the week commencing 30 March 2015
Start date: 5 May 2015
How to apply: If you would like to apply you should request an application pack from Ms Zane Kalnina, tdestudentships@brookes.ac.uk quoting ‘Eco-Bicester Living Lab PhD studentship’ in the subject line.

Housing minister visits NW Bicester eco-town

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP visited North West Bicester, the UK’s first eco-town and a One Planet Living Community, in December and saw the first timber frame buildings being constructed on site.

The visit on December 12 came just after the Government’s announcement  that Bicester would receive a multi-million pound award after meeting the criteria for a Garden Town.  Bioregional is working with NW Bicester developer A2Dominion and Cherwell District Council to ensure the first, 400 home phase of the eco-town and the remainder meet high sustainability standards. Mr Lewis met A2Dominion’s NW Bicester project director Steve Hornblow and strategic partnership co-ordinator Louise Caves.

John Knevett, Group Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy Group Chief Executive at A2Dominion, said:

“It is important to stress that the 13,000 homes announced have always been included in the local plan for Bicester and the 6,000 true zero carbon homes planned for NW Bicester is part of this delivery. We believe that the UK’s first eco town will contribute significantly to the garden city initiative. NW Bicester is already under construction with the first residents due to occupy their new homes by the middle of 2015.

“We believe there is no other scheme that incorporates such green infrastructure and energy-efficient design whilst protecting and enhancing the existing landscape and this makes NW Bicester a community of high quality homes that every generation can enjoy for generations to come. A2Dominion developments make it easy, attractive and affordable for people of all ages to live healthy, sustainable lifestyles without compromising the needs of future generations.

“As well as being a developer, we are also a provider of affordable housing. As such we will be involved on a long term basis at NW Bicester supporting residents across the wider development as it evolves.”


Eco-Bicester – best in Europe

The Eco-Bicester programme run by Cherwell District Council, with Bioregional, has won a prestigious European energy award after being nominated by the National Energy Foundation earlier this year.

It scooped the ACE Award Overall Winner in the category Energy Smart Municipalities.

The energy-saving Eco-Bicester programme combines a town-wide energy efficiency programme with the building of a new 6,000 home eco town – the only true zero carbon large scale housing development in the UK. Work began this year on the first ‘Exemplar’ phase of the eco-town with 393 homes, one of Bioregional’s nine One Planet Communities.

The energy efficiency programme in the existing town of Bicester has engaged over 30,000 residents through discounted insulation and boiler replacements, energy saving workshops and six demonstration sites, including a PassivHauss home and a leisure centre and swimming pool powered by a biomass boiler and solar panels.

The awards were announced in the Netherlands at the Ace Awards Finale, one of Europe’s most high-profile events for achievements in renewable and sustainable energy. Cherwell District Council competed in the category of Energy Smart Municipalities against other European local authorities who have developed pioneering or innovative approaches to promoting sustainable energy.

Leader of Cherwell District Council, Councillor Barry Wood, said: “The Eco-Bicester initiative is using zero carbon development to change people’s behaviour, ensuring the entire Bicester community benefits from the changes that are taking place. We hope that through this award we can inspire other councils to see energy transition as a means to create better places to live and work in an eco-friendly way.”

Nicole Lazarus, Bioregional’s Bicester Eco-Town Programme Manager, said: “This award is richly deserved. Cherwell showed real foresight in bringing energy saving benefits to the whole town of Bicester while setting out to develop a pioneering eco-town extension. We’re very proud and happy to have been so deeply involved in this Eco-Bicester programme.”

Ace is a renewable energy initiative spanning several North West European countries which promotes the importance of renewable energy in the lives of citizens, businesses and local government.


Bioregional has been working with Europe’s largest home improvement retailer since 2010. We support Kingfisher’s goal to increase sales from sustainable products and services and to transition to the circular economy. We also provide target setting and reporting support

Expanding Kingfisher’s range of sustainable products

Kingfisher asked Bioregional to create a rigorous approach to identifying what constitutes a sustainable product for the home. We created a first set of guidelines in 2010 with clear criteria, updated annually, including saving energy and water, sustainable materials and the circular economy, greener gardens and healthier homes.

Every company within the Kingfisher Group now provides a six-monthly report on the products identified as meeting the criteria, which we verify.

We have trained teams in Kingfisher, including people in commercial and quality assurance roles, to help them improve and expand their Sustainable Home Product ranges. We have also created roadmaps with short to long term actions setting out how commercial teams can improve product ranges by reducing the impacts of products along supply chain and in use within customers’ homes.

The Sustainable Home Product range now includes over 33,000 different product lines, representing 28% of the group’s annual sales in 2016/17.

Creating circular value chains

Kingfisher and Bioregional have collaborated on the circular economy for several years, helping Kingfisher meet its target to create 10 ‘closed loop’ supply chains by 2020. In 2015/16 Bioregional produced a circular design guide and a circular value chains assessment methodology for Kingfisher covering:

  • safe and sustainable materials
  • product utility and function
  • energy and carbon
  • water stewardship
  • ethical responsibility

This methodology enables product designers to understand how they can increase the circularity of existing products and helps to inform design decisions during product development.

Bioregional has used the tool to review five products to date including easyGrow and Pro Grow, plant growing media which have passed the assessment and generated sales of over £9 million in 2016/17. Kingfisher subsidiary B&Q’s green pallets initiative, which reuses and recycles pallets for delivering products to stores, also meets the requirements.

Setting sustainability targets

In 2018 Kingfisher launched its Sustainable Growth Plan, a new roadmap up to 2025, setting out the next stage on its journey towards being a net positive business. Bioregional’s role as part of Kingfisher’s sustainability strategy refresh was to develop and agree a smaller set of ambitious targets with a greater focus on the things customers and colleagues really care about.  We were responsible for advising on how Kingfisher can support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ensure it continued to improve the sustainability performance of its own operations. Bioregional provided technical support and modelling to help Kingfisher create realistic yet stretching 2025 targets including:

  • Enable a 50% reduction in customer energy use
  • A 50% improvement in customer water efficiency
  • 20% of total sales create healthier homes and help them connect with nature
  • Ensure sustainable management and efficient use of key resources (2025) including 100% responsibly sourced wood and paper and peat-free bagged growing media (2020)

Bioregional continue to provide technical support to Kingfisher on setting greenhouse gas reduction targets in line with its commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative.

Sustainability reporting support

Working with a team of Kingfisher experts including internal and external auditors, we collate and analyse annual data submissions from Kingfisher’s ten operating companies and its offices. We cover around 150 data points on issues ranging from property energy, transport, waste and water to community investment and employee diversity.

We ensure Kingfisher’s Sustainability Report contains correct, robust data, contributing to an insightful overview of the company’s progress against targets and milestones. Information on the financial, economic, social and environmental value generated by Kingfisher is also included in the group’s separate annual report.

About the partner

Kingfisher is Europe’s largest home improvement retailer with over 1,200 stores in ten countries across Europe, Russia and Turkey. It employs 77,000 people, has annual sales of over £11 billion.

John Lewis

We’ve worked with one of the biggest and most respected names in UK retail on reducing its environmental impacts over the next 15 years

Sustainability in store

John Lewis approached Bioregional to undertake a comprehensive review of their ‘Bringing Quality to Life’ programme. This leading retail partnership wanted to identify opportunities for improvement across all of its operations, sourcing policies, manufacturing activities and community initiatives.

Bioregional assessed the ‘Bringing Quality to Life’ targets and projects through interviews with key staff, a literature review and competitor benchmarking. Our review encompassed the environmental impacts of John Lewis’ operations, products and materials sourcing and customer engagement.

We made 37 recommendations which were used by the firm to inform its priorities for this programme in 2012. This then led Bioregional to work with John Lewis on developing its Sustainable Product Identifier, covering 43 product types sold through its department stores and website. This includes a symbol used on all elements of John Lewis’s sustainability programme in stores, online and in its Community Matters materials. It is also used on more than 3,000 products.

In 2014 John Lewis asked Bioregional to carry out a strategic analysis and visioning exercise representing ten key social, environmental and economic trends that will affect John Lewis operations, its customers and the products it sells in 2030.

We called this piece of work ‘Bringing the Future to Life’. The trends we looked at included climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, a changing retail landscape and the continuing advances in technology. For each of these, Bioregional drew upon the latest scientific research within the field and explored how the trend fits within the current national and international legislative context.

We used these ten scenario maps to outline a series of visions for John Lewis, designed to be stretching but realistically attainable and aimed at informing long-term goals for John Lewis’ social responsibility and buying teams.

About the partner

With annual gross sales of over £10 billion, the John Lewis Partnership owns 31 department stores, 10 John Lewis At Home shops and 328 Waitrose supermarkets plus an online catalogue business, a production unit and a farm. All 90,000 permanent staff are partners in the enterprise and they share in the benefits and profits of a business that puts them first.


From 2012-15 we worked with Latin America’s leading company in the design and manufacture of commercial refrigeration equipment to improve the sustainability of their operations, using our One Planet Living framework.

Making sustainability cool in Latin America

In 2012 Mexico-based Imbera became the first large scale manufacturer to create a One Planet Action Plan. As part of this plan the company has introduced several greener transport initiatives – parking spaces dedicated to pooled and low carbon cars, a bike hire scheme for all staff and a daily shuttle bus that means around 33 staff no longer do a 100 kilometre commute by car. On the waste reduction front, timber pallets are now being reused while the stickers used for branding fridges are recycled into paper envelopes which carry warranties and other documentation. Imbera is the first company in the state of Queretaro to have its own reading hall, part of a national programme to promote reading.

Imbera continues to improve its sustainability performance which is reported through parent company Femsa’s annual sustainability report.

About Imbera

Imbera is a subsidiary of leading Latin American soft drinks, brewing and retail group FEMSA. It has three manufacturing plants in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil and exports to 40 countries across five continents. Imbera has more than 4,000 employees and each year produces over 380,000 commercial refrigeration coolers and services more than 1.2 million, placing it among the top three manufacturers in the world.

Good Woods

Bioregional is working to revive neglected woodlands by teaming up with owners, voluntary groups and local communities. We are searching for ways to put woods and copses back into good use, benefiting their owners, local people and the local and national economy.

Breathing new life into woodlands

Most of the UK’s woodlands have been worked by humans for hundreds or even thousands of years. Coppicing, thinning and planting helped to give them their characteristic wildlife and wildflowers while providing livelihoods and useful products for people.

But today, nearly half of England’s woodlands are considered under-managed ‒ equivalent to four times the area of Greater London. They support far fewer jobs, produce far less useful material and their wildlife has also declined. In recent years specialist woodland butterfly species have declined by over 70% and one in six ancient woodland flowering plants are now threatened with extinction.

Our Good Woods initiative provides a model for targeting support to neglected woodlands. This links to a vision for strengthening the national supply chain to bring more responsibly produced, home-grown timber and biomass to market, making the UK less reliant on timber imports. We also want local people to be able to enjoy their local woodlands for walks and other recreation.

The initiative began as a partnership project between leading DIY retailer B&Q, Bioregional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation established in January 2013.

Working with 28 individuals and organisations including the Wildlife Trusts, we supported owners, managers and community groups in improving the condition and management of neglected woodlands across the South East and East of England. As a result of the pilot Good Woods project:

  • Nearly 110 square kilometers of previously unmanaged woodland now has a sustainable management vision
  • 300 woodland owners have received a Woodland Star Rating, a indicator showing the standard of woodland management being practiced and how this relates to the provision of ecosystem services such as flood abatement and carbon storage
  • 20 community groups have received training in woodland management
  • 1,000 woodland owners have received a Woodlands producer pack to help them assess their woodland for the full range of forestry products
  • About 20% of the timber B&Q now sells is sourced from UK woodlands, and we are working together to increase that.

Good Woods established a network of organisations ranging from AONBs to Wildlife Trusts, to help identify owners potentially in need of assistance. Professional forestry advisors were allocated to each network member to deliver on the ground advice to the woodland owners.

A vital part of growing a thriving wood culture is plenty of community engagement involving people of all ages. We have run community woodland workshops to help reconnect people with nature and improve their understanding of working woodlands.

We’ve also updated the Community Engagement Toolkit (first published in 2011). The new guide, Stakeholder and Community Engagement – A guide for woodland owners and managers in England, reflects changes to the UK Forestry Standard and other developments in forestry and technology.

We have also written a brochure for businesses a setting out the benefits of getting involved in Good Woods – you can download it using the link on the right.

About our partners

Sylva Foundation is a UK-based charity on a mission to revive Britain’s wood culture. It aims to achieve this by caring for woodland and promoting forest produce for a sustainable future.

B&Q is the leading home improvement and garden retailer in Europe and the third largest in the world. It has 350 stores in the UK and employs more than 30,000 people. Globally, it has sales of £3.7 billion in 2013 and three million customer visits a week.

Things are hotting up in Bicester

A pioneering scheme to heat up to 6,000 homes in the UK’s first eco-town has taken its next leap forward, with the appointment of engineering design and consultancy company Ramboll  to undertake the technical and commercial feasibility study. The scheme will involve the installation of an insulated hot water pipe system to transfer heat generated from Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility at Ardley to properties at north west Bicester.

Earlier this year Cherwell District Council received a grant of £83,000 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Heat Network Delivery Unit to fund a feasibility study exploring the possibility of using Viridor’s Energy Recovery Facility at Ardley to heat the north west Bicester eco-town which is located about one mile away. The decision to appoint Ramboll was made by representatives of Cherwell District Council and partners from Oxfordshire County Council and BioRegional who will all be involved in the delivery of the project.

An update will be given to key stakeholders at a meeting in December and an interim report will be presented in February 2015. A final report on the proposal will then be submitted by Ramboll in summer 2015.