Putting your money where your mouth is

Kit Beazley, head of finance at Triodos Bank, and Hannah Spungin of Solarsense on the roof of the bank’s headquarters in Bristol

Rooftop solar panels are helping drive down carbon emissions at the Bristol headquarters of one of the UK’s most sustainable banks ensuring its offices are among the country’s greenest.

Six months after Triodos Bank moved into new offices at Deanery Road in the city centre, its array of 40 PV panels are on track to generate almost 9,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity a year.

The PV panels will not only reduce Triodos’ electricity bills but are also designed to save five tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The systems will benefit from Feed-in Tariff subsidies that will enable the bank to recover its capital investment in about six years as well as providing future income to invest in other green projects. 

Triodos chose South West-based Solarsense in line with the bank’s ethos of local and sustainable investment, and because the company’s experience in designing and installing solar energy systems meant it could offer a turnkey service to meet the specifics of the new build project.

Renewable energy is a key sector for the bank: along with social housing, it was the bank’s largest growth area for loans in 2011 when its overall lending grew by a record 36 percent. For example, Triodos has funded the installation of a large solar PV array for Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis on the ‘Mootel’, a cow barn at his Somerset farm.

The bank’s new UK headquarters – part of a development that includes the Environment Agency’s new national headquarters – have been built to demanding environmental standards and furnished in a way that reflects its values and ethos.

Eco-friendly materials, locally sourced as far as possible, have been used in construction and the offices feature energy-efficient lighting activated by movement, bike storage for staff cycling to work and rainwater harvesting to flush toilets.

In the reception area, chairs are made from recycled T-shirts and other worn textiles, stool seats from wool and nettle fibre, and shelves and panelling from waste paper and straw.

The solar panels, sustainable construction methods and furnishings have helped the building achieve an “excellent” rating under BREEAM, the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, a widely-recognised environmental standard for buildings.

Kit Beazley, Triodos’ head of finance, said: “Triodos exists to demonstrate that banks can marry sustainability with commercial success, so when we moved to our new building it was important that it matched our ethos and values. As a long-term customer of ours and local supplier, Solarsense was the natural partner to provide the solar array for our new offices.”

Hannah Spungin of Solarsense added: “We are delighted that our solar energy system is helping Triodos keep its lead as the UK’s most sustainable bank in one of the country’s greenest offices.”