November 21st, 2011

Update on GLD UK: Trends, blooms, philosophy and crowdsourcing

CleanTech Events -

I want to give you all a brief update on the Green Light Distirkt over in the UK. Since the founding of GLD in London more than six months ago, things have been going from strength to strength. GLD UK has so far, hosted five fascinating Energy Bars, with speakers each bringing their own unique twist of insight.

May – The start!

May was our inaugural Energy Bar in London; the first small step in building up traction in the UK. Conveniently, Chris Williams happened to be travelling through Europe completing research for the development of the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech. During his stop off in London he dropped by to give a talk on the founding of GLD and his latest projects. The event was a fitting start for GLD UK to host our first Energy Bar with the GLD founder in town.

July – Trends

In July GLD UK welcomed Tom Rowlands-Rees, Head of Energy Efficiency at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Tom gave a fascinating talk on life at New Energy Finance, pre and post Bloomberg, as well as a bunch of thought-poking insights on cleantech trends. Using the latest BNEF analyst research, Tom shown the audience projections for solar cells and lighting – both are becoming cheaper by the week. I felt this really helped to demonstrate how clean technologies are veering ever closer to the ‘tipping point’, if not surpassing it.

August – Blooms

In August we welcomed the very creative, James Sutton founder of The Bloom Trigger Project to speak about his hugely innovative start-up that links local tribes and NGO’s in the Amazon to primary (elementary) education, local fundraising and brand sponsorship. James describes his project as:

“Bloomtrigger is developing a new visual model of online fundraising that enables people to protect rainforest in a simple, affordable and creative way.  Blomtrigger is creating a disruptive business model that takes advantage of new technologies to out innovate traditional CSR projects and rainforest charities. Find good networks and invest your time into forming strong relationships instead of spreading yourself too thinly.”

October – Philosophy

Christina Rebel of We-Impact shed light on the philosophical aspects of Sustainability. Christina spoke about the open future of our political economy and its relation to the environment. Taking insight from Sartre’s reflections on free will and determination, she urges a consideration of sustainability as a fluid and dynamic concept so that potential alternatives can be harnessed and to escape the confines of a narrowly defined approach.

Breaking away from the dogmas of ‘eco-efficiency’ or ‘eco-radical’ she proposed a practical consideration of how we can drive greater sustainability into business practices and one’s own consumer choices. Recognising the efforts of small- and medium-size enterprises and campaigns that drive sustainability in this fashion, she outlined the capacity for an individual to ‘vote with their pound’ for an aggregate ‘flexing’ of society’s muscles to empower and shape an alternative future through their consumption choices. Channelling consumer behaviour to this end clarifies that a sustainable lifestyle is not necessarily about renunciation or a radical overhaul of one’s lifestyle, but about the desirable merits that adopting a sustainable lifestyle generates so to ensure that ‘every pound spent is a pound gained’ for themselves, their community and the biosphere.

October – Crowdsourcing

We also hosted Hugh Knowles, Principal Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future. With members in the audience whom Hugh had taught, he began by discussing a new approach being taken at the Forum; specifically on innovation and the funding challenges for early stage start-ups. Hugh has been working on a new crowdsourcing site called Developed by TV chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s team, the site is based on a Kickstarter model of crowdsourced funding; only it focuses on technologies, energy initiatives and localism. Having only launched this autumn, the site has already had some successfully funded projects.

November – A different sort of Energy Bar

Finally last week, we hosted a special Energy Bar in the run up to the Guardian Cleantech Summit. James and I ran two focus groups on the topic ‘Who will be leading cleantech in 2050’. Watch out for more details on GLD’s partnership with the Guardian…


Further, GLD UK has been building its online presence through a new twitter account: @GLD_UK and through a UK centric GLD site. Check it out here and join up as a member in the UK to keep up to date with London Energy Bar events.

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George Phillips

About George Phillips

George is a cleantech analyst and distributed energy campaigner. George launched the consulting venture IndREcon in 2010, reviewing cleantech innovation business plans before joining Orion Innovations, a London based specialist strategy consultancy firm focusing on innovations in emergent sectors, primarily Smartclean industries. George is originally from London, but lived in North America and Europe for almost 10 years. He is currently developing GLD in London UK. @gphillipsUK @GLD_UK *Views expressed are my own *