Celebrating London’s sustainability leaders

Green Economy London and the London Environmental Network celebrate the recipients of the 2024 Green Leader Awards

EARTH MONTH WAS in April and what better way to celebrate than to recognize the local businesses and community leaders working to make London a greener and more resilient city for all. The London Environmental Network and Green Economy London hosted the Green Leader Awards, an awards event for members of their network who are leading community and business projects that are positively impacting the environment.

The London Environmental Network is an environmental charitable organization that works to protect the environment and build a more sustainable city by offering environmental programs and climate action opportunities for all residents. Their business sustainability program, Green Economy London works with businesses to set and achieve sustainability goals, reduce emissions, achieve cost savings, develop a credible brand, and improve the ability to attract and retain consumers, shareholders, and employees through sustainability.

The Green Leader Awards presented eight award categories, three to environmental nonprofit members and community leaders of the London Environmental Network, and five to business members of Green Economy London. Award categories included Emissions Reduction of the Year (winner: The Ice Box), Green Project Implementation Award (winner: BlueStone Properties), Rookie of the Year (winner: Junction Climbing), Environmental Steward of the Year (winner: MTE Consultants), Circularity Award (winner: Play Away Indoor Park), Outstanding Member Award (winner: The PATCH), Community Impact Award (winner: LOLA Bees) and Community Choice Award (winner: Michelle Stranges).

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The Outstanding Member Award recognizes a member of the London Environmental Network for developing a local solution or furthering sustainability innovation in technology or program delivery by creative thinking and adapting to the changing needs of the community. The PATCH brings urban agriculture skills training, horticultural therapy, and community hospitality to everyone in London but especially to people with disabilities, at-risk youth and people experiencing homelessness and poverty. They have three growing spaces allowing them to produce more fresh food than ever and deliver this food around London mostly by e-bike.

The Community Impact Award recognizes an organization or community group that implemented a project that benefited the environment and community within the past year through the Environmental Action Incubator program. This year’s recipient LOLA Bees was recognized for their youth-focused program Pollinator Pals which engages children between the ages of 6-12 and their families in learning about sustainability through the lens of natural urban beekeeping and native plant gardening.

Furthermore, they created a Community Choice Award (winner: Michelle Stranges) where for the first time ever, community members voted on an individual who demonstrates outstanding environmental leadership. The community came together and over 1,500 votes were cast between the two finalists.

“With the harsh realities of climate change facing us every day, it is so important to take a moment to recognize these groups for creating positive environmental change in London” ―Leah Derikx, Interim Executive Director, London Environmental Network

“Our team has the pleasure of connecting with these groups year-round and supporting them in various ways to make their environmental projects happen,” said Leah Derikx, Interim Executive Director, London Environmental Network. “With the harsh realities of climate change facing us every day, it is so important to take a moment to recognize these groups for creating positive environmental change in London.”

The Emissions Reduction of the Year Award, awarded to The Ice Box, recognizes a business who has implemented a project that has or will have a significant impact on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The Ice Box implemented a solar battery storage system for their food and ice cream truck which eliminated idle time on the truck’s diesel engine and reduced hundreds of hours of diesel-powered generator use.

The Rookie of the Year award recognizes the most active and accomplished new member of Green Economy London, this year awarded to Junction Climbing. The bouldering facility installed a large window covering to reduce energy consumption, improve comfortability, and increase energy efficiency. They have a solar system installed at one of their facilities and encourage active transport by providing bike racks for visitors.

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MTE Consultants was recognized as the Environmental Steward of the Year for their actions that positively impact the community and ecosystems of London and surrounding areas. Among their dozens of environmental stewardship projects they do litter clean ups, installed a pollinator garden, implement in-office composting, and created a green team.

Play Away Indoor Park received the Circularity Award for implementing projects that reduce and/or divert waste at their organization. Most notably they upgraded their kitchen with a commercial dishwasher to accommodate reusable dishware for their programming, camps, and parties. Eliminating the use of previously used single use products, their staff has already reported at least a 50 per cent reduction in waste.

The Green Project Implementation Award recognizes a member who has implemented multiple projects at their facility that are inspirational, educational, and effective as they relate to reducing the environmental impacts of their organization. Winner BlueStone Properties has implemented energy conservation and efficiency projects, with five of their buildings being Energy Star Certified, a compost program, and continually engages with their employees and the community through sustainability.

Acting as a megaphone for environmental successes, the London Environmental Network recognized not only the winners, but the 14 other finalists to share their stories and inspire others.

“The finalists are amazing examples of what sustainability can look like in London and I hope their stories inspire more businesses, nonprofits, and community members to take environmental action in the city,” said Derikx.

Among the 100 plus attendees were community members, network members, local businesses, and event sponsors London Hydro, The Better Bin Company, TRY Recycling, Meridian Credit Union, Western Sustainability, Reel Nature, Pillar Nonprofit Network, and the City of London.

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“As a proud supporter of the Community Impact Award, London Hydro recognizes that moving towards a clean energy future isn’t only about using clean fuel but being involved in the change,” noted Jeffrey Floyd, Certified Energy Manager, London Hydro. “Community efforts by the winner, LOLA Bees and runners up, Growing Chefs! and the Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre, demonstrate the spirit and potential for Londoners to design our futures, big and small.”

You can learn more about the winners and finalists, and the sustainability initiatives being implemented on the London Environmental Network website.

What’s next for the London Environmental Network and Green Economy London? They just announced Green Project Support on May 1st, an incentive opportunity for businesses to implement sustainability projects. With cost being one of the major barriers faced by small and medium-sized businesses and grassroots organizations, Green Economy London will be allocating over $12,000 over the next year to their members. Projects will address one or more of the key climate change challenges, emissions reduction, water conservation, environmental stewardship, or waste reduction and diversion.

The London Environmental Network and Green Economy London have seen that it is evident that the community and local partners crave an empowering and uplifting sustainability network. You can stay connected and be part of the network with plenty of opportunities to get involved as an individual, business, or grassroots organization this summer and spring. Visit londonenvironment.net.

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