Sustainability

Case studies

Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs

Take a look at the case studies below to get an idea of the type of work we do and who we work with.

Blockwalls

Blockwalls is a leading UK supplier of ‘Concrete Lego Blocks’ that can be used to form aggregate segregation bays for waste separation or for recycling waste in transfer depots. They can also be used in civil engineering projects such as retaining walls, temporary works, piling mats, permanent formwork, flood or sea defences.

The company approached LCEI to help improve their flood defence product and LCEI introduced them to a research project at LJMU called ‘Smart Breakwater’.

Academics have been using sensors to monitor what happens to the elements when hit by waves to measure acceleration and understand forces and displacement to enable optimization of recycled material.

In addition, student projects have been set up to explore the use of recycled EVA material in concrete in relation to sustainability and strength testing. As a result, both the university and company are exploring further funding options to test sustainable ‘smart’ concrete for flood defence that monitors and prevents further failure to enhance resilience.

“Engaging with LCEI has added so much value to our existing product and future results could prove to be transformational.”
– Vighnesh Daas, Director, Blockwalls

Energy saving technology put to the test – how LCEI helped Bristol BlueGreen launch their BG5 Power Saver

Bristol Blue Green

Formed in 2013, specialist Liverpool company Bristol BlueGreen were looking to become a leader in the voltage management market, developing energy-saving products that regulate the power supply to your home. 

The average voltage delivered to end users in the UK is 245V. Yet most appliances need only 220V to deliver their rated performance. This can lead to appliances operating inefficiently, producing more heat and suffering shortened lives as a result.

The company’s patented BlueGreen technology allows the load voltage within a building to be maintained at a chosen set point, reducing consumption and protecting appliances.

When launching their initial product, the BG5 Power Saver, Bristol BlueGreen needed independent proof of their claims about the unit’s effectiveness.

Low Carbon Eco Innovatory was able to install the BG5 in one of our BRE Exemplar Houses at the LJMU Byrom Street Campus. The aim was to test the energy consumption of various household appliances at different voltage levels coming into the building.

LCEI kitted out the test house with a range of appliances found in an average home, including a washing machine, kettle, lamps, television and fridge freezer. By using accepted models for the average use of these appliances in the UK (when they are used and how long for), we set up a timetable of usage. A technician was stationed in the house and tasked with switching appliances on and off at the required times.

This programme was followed while the BG5 was configured to supply the Exemplar house at 245V, and then repeated at 220V. The tests took place over several months, giving our researchers plenty of data to crunch.

The tests demonstrated the ability of the BG5 to reduce electricity consumption in the home significantly, showing an overall saving of 7.5% when maintaining the power supply at the lower voltage. The biggest savings were achieved in heating, lighting, and white goods.

Bristol Blue Green went on to develop the BG2 Power Saver, suitable for flats and smaller homes and offering even shorter payback periods.

Since completion of the testing, BlueGreen devices have been installed in countries including Australia, China, Uruguay and Argentina. Local councils and housing associations in the UK are showing an interest in the new BG2 and there is a renewed feeling of optimism around the company.

CTO Paul Silcock says, “Working with LCEI has proven invaluable in discussions with potential clients. Third party testing was always going to be necessary to demonstrate the benefits of our technology: the LJMU name brings credibility few can match and I can’t recommend the team highly enough.”


Plastic-eating mushrooms – LCEI helps Little World with pioneering research…


Little World

In January 2019, Liverpool business owner Antony Strode opened the city’s newest zero waste and plastic-free store.

Little World Market, on Bootle’s Dunningsbridge Road, offers a ‘guilt-free’ shopping experience for the eco-conscious, where you can bring your own reusable containers and fill up on organic dried foods, spices and liquids. The on-site café serves vegan and vegetarian dishes and they also run workshops, community events and music nights.

Now, Little World is developing a five-acre site of neglected woodland, with plans to establish an organic farm, community kitchen and nature education centre.

Little World is also looking to establish a mushroom research centre on the land, and this is where LCEI comes in.

Together with mycelium remediation expert Nathan Finkel, Little World is exploring the possibility of using fungus bacteria to break down plastic materials. Nathan and Antony joined forces with LCEI, and we put our LJMU researchers and academics on the case!

This exciting area of sustainable science is under-explored, but there is evidence to suggest that mushrooms can break down hydrocarbons and ‘digest’ hydrocarbon derived products such as plastic.

Our academics thoroughly reviewed all the existing research available to provide an evidence base for Nathan and Antony to build on, and explored the potential for scaling up the process.

Scaling-up, however, would require a more scientific approach to investigating the degradation process of plastics by mycelium, and our researchers went into the lab to develop a method.

LCEI and Little World have built a positive partnership and will continue to work together. Nathan and Antony now have the scientific support and knowledge base needed to help them progress their research.

Antony said: “Our project, to put it lightly, is ambitious and wide-ranging. One of the keys to our ability to move forward confident we can achieve our goals is the support of LCEI and LJMU. We simply could not perform the experiments without the scientific support and advice offered.

“The team at LCEI are travelling on the same road as the project, with our broad adaptation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as a guide. The team has been a great sounding board for our wacky ideas and have been a part of some of our key moments. We look forward to collaborating on our important work together.”


Make Liverpool

Make Liverpool

Make Liverpool are a community interest company providing studio space to independent and startup businesses (artists, musicians and commercial companies).

After moving to new 18,000 square foot premises, they approached Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory for energy management and renewable technology advice.

As a result, LCEI carried out a full measured survey of the existing building and carried out Building Information Modelling (BIM) which led to an assessment for LED lighting and design plus research into low energy heating.

Make Liverpool have now received a complete set of CAD drawings (plan, elevations) for passive building design.

Also, taking into account the various activities within the building, Make Liverpool have identified the type of heating systems for each zone and light specifications required for their premises.

“Not only has Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory given us the advice that we needed, we have also used the report to apply for further funding.”
– Kirsten Little, Director, Make Liverpool

AdaptiveComms

James from AdaptiveCommsAward-winning Southport company AdaptiveComms supports SMEs across the North West with tailored business services and software.

Their communications packages help SMEs stay connected and secure, from hosted and business telephony systems, Microsoft Office 365 packages, broadband, and generalised IT support, to photocopiers, printers and CCTV.

Sustainability had been on their agenda for some time when, earlier this year, they decided to take the next step and partner with Low Carbon Eco Innovatory.

carried out a carbon assessment, helping AdaptiveComms understand exactly where and how they could make the biggest impact in reducing the business’s carbon emissions.

has now committed to becoming completely carbon neutral by 2030 with a £450,000 investment.

It’s a big challenge, but thanks to LCEI’s expert researchers, AdaptiveComms is armed with the knowledge they need to achieve this ambitious goal.

The company will be replacing the vehicle fleet, changing office lights to a more sustainable alternative, and introducing a dynamic working structure to support home working.

will also be ensuring all the suppliers they work with are in pursuit of the same sustainability goals.

Established in 2003 by James Brayshaw, AdaptiveComms has grown to become highly successful and acclaimed, with appearances amongst Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, receiving the E3 Business of the Year Award, and the Northwest Insider 42 Under 42 Award.

“We have recently invested in an electric car, the first of many, and have introduced a flexible work-from-home structure. These new steps will not only reduce the carbon footprint of the business but also support employees in remaining every bit as productive whilst also having the ability to work with more flexibility. We’re excited to be on this journey to transform the company into a greener one.” – James Brayshaw, AdaptiveComms

Road Mole Ltd.

Road Mole Ltd. specialise in test drilling, boring and repairs of road surfaces (specifically pot holes) to carry out maintenance work on highways and trunk roads.

The company approached Low Carbon Eco- Innovatory for a technical report on the quality of the pothole repairs and assessment of the performance of the rig in order to explore how they can modify, automate and control the rig in an efficient manner.

As a result, in addition to the technical report, the R&D project provided the company with an opportunity to apply and access funding streams for further research collaborations/projects and it has also helped them to win further contracts.


Energy Fairies Ltd.


Energy Fairies

Energy Fairies Ltd. are an award-winning, all-female, family-run energy efficiency company based in Liverpool.

Energy Fairies approached Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory with an innovative idea for a thermal blind system made from sustainable materials. The assistance provided has included rigorous investigations and testing for proof of concept and prototype of a retro-fitted thermal insulation kit.

The testing has allowed access to facilities within the university where the testing has taken place at the exemplar houses at LJMU. Aspects of the investigation have focussed on comparisons between a conventional plantation type shutter/blind and retro-fitted systems.

In addition, a carbon assessment for the product has been conducted. Energy Fairies now have a good idea of the performance, comfort level, heat loss, greenhouse gas reduction and the support will hopefully result in a new product to the market in due course.

“Being a small business, accessing support for R&D and prototype testing has been invaluable.” – Rechelle Griffin, Director, Energy Fairies Ltd.

V-Solar

V-Solar are a company who have brought together various technologies to design an innovative Solar Water Energy system. Their product uses glass reinforced polymer that has higher efficiency compared with traditional materials currently on the market.

The company approached Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory to test the system and after designing and building the system themselves, LCEI have used a range of technology such as sensors, flow meters and dataloggers to monitor the system over a 12 month period.

Working with LCEI has allowed the company to access expertise and facilities at the university and the detailed report, outlining the performance and efficiency, will allow them to prove that the system has been tested by an independent third party.

Ultimately, it is hoped that the company will introduce a new product to the market that will not only help the business to grow, but will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for businesses and home owners.

“By independently testing how our system performs, Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory are helping us with a critical step towards taking our product to market.” – Stephen Baynes, Director, V-Solar

Cheshire Scientific Ltd.


Cheshire Scientific

Cheshire Scientific Ltd is a microbiological contract testing laboratory providing a rapid, accredited, analytical service to industry, local government and the general public. They offer extensive range of microbiological analysis and disinfectant efficacy testing to EU standards.

Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory assisted the company by allowing access to laboratory facilities/equipment and knowledge transfer in the design and development of new methods or advancement in existing methods.

As a result, the company improved quality/efficiency and have gained knowledge and understanding of new methods of testing in Molecular Biology/PCR. Also, a long-term collaboration opportunity was identified and is on-going.

“Accessing facilities and expertise at the University has allowed our business to maintain a competitive edge.” – Julie Christie, Technical Director, Cheshire Scientific Ltd.

Melo World Limited

Melo World Limited specialise in creating and developing Visual Management solutions for production and operations facilities (signs and communication boards). Their solutions are engineered by them, on site, with the use of best-recycled materials merged with the highest quality products.

After moving to new premises, they approached Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory for assistance with energy management and design.

LCEI assessed the current condition of the building to explore the potential for implementing low carbon and clean technologies. This involved the development of a 3-D thermal model to research low energy heating systems as well as solar PV, design/simulation of low carbon lighting and roof insulation.

Lots of potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were identified and the company will benefit by reducing their costs in addition to demonstrating how they are managing carbon.

“Support from Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory has identified many ways to reduce carbon and costs.” – Jacub Wasik, Business Development Manager, Melo World Limited

Vintage Leather Satchel Company


Satchel co.

The Vintage Leather Satchel Company is a group of British Master Craftsmen established in 1966 that designs and manufactures traditional leather products, as well as more modern accessories such as iPad and laptop cases. With a store in Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock the company offers off the shelf products in addition to a bespoke service.

The leather industry in general is quite traditional in its approach, and high-end leather products appear unconcerned with carbon impacts, but markets are moving toward more eco-sensitive products. As an innovative and growing company the Leather Satchel Company is exploring approaches to stay ahead of the pack.

Working alongside LCEI, the company designed a 1-month internship for a final year student to research current innovations in low carbon and low energy manufacturing techniques. The project determined the feasibility of employing leading-edge technology and ideas in future product development.

“For us it’s a great benefit to be able to work with the universities. It’s so easy for companies to get in touch and use these funds and resources to help improve their eco credentials.” – Keith Hanshaw, Managing Director, The Vintage Leather Satchel Company

Algal Omega 3 Ltd.

Algal Omega 3 Ltd. are based in Knowsley Business Park and are active in the Biotechnology sector, exploiting new technologies and science. Currently, their major focus is fermentation technology on microalgae, which produce Omega 3 lipid when processed. The product has applications in the area of food ingredients sector, animal food, pharmaceutical and many more.

Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory carried out a carbon assessment on Algal Omega 3 Ltd to identify the wastewater recycling issues. Accordingly, a phased waste recycling solution was proposed.

Research was also carried out on renewable energy technologies to propose a system fit for AO3 purpose and capacity requirements.

As a result, the assistance has led to significant cost savings and the carbon assessment report has Algal Omega 3 at the forefront within their sector for environmental strategy.

“As a result of working with Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory, we believe that our business is positioned at the forefront of our sector for environmental strategy.” – Stephen Chestnutt, MD, Algal Omega 3 Ltd.

The Florrie


The Florrie

The Florrie is a community centre in the heart of Liverpool 8 that approached LCEI because their building had a problem with overheating.

A specialist from LCEI produced a model to simulate the energy performance of the building with and without ventilation to make comparisons and recommendations. A major challenge however, was that The Florrie is a Grade II Listed Victorian building, which brought significant limitations to potential solutions.

As a result of the support, The Florrie, which is a much-needed community centre in a deprived area, has saved a significant amount of money and plan to improve the ventilation in the main hall.

“The help from LCEI has enabled us to understand the environmental performance of our building which has resulted in cost savings in addition to providing much-needed advice towards improving the comfort level of the main hall which we depend on for income.” – Anne Lundon, Chief Executive, The Florrie

The Climbing Hangar

The Climbing Hangar is a national climbing chain that aims to use climbing to inspire and help people feel good about themselves.

Climbing is a growing sport and the Climbing Hangar has significant growth ambitions and sustainability is at the heart of their growth.

The Climbing Hangar approached Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory because they buy holds made out of polyester and polyurethane that go smooth too quickly, cannot be refurbed or recycled and the price is rising fast, a perfect storm for a sustainable solution to supply chain problems.

As a result, LCEI has set up student projects to carry out abrasion testing and also to explore ways to retexture the holds in order to extend their life and reduce the 10,000 tonnes sent to landfill.

LCEI is also exploring funding options in order to support the Climbing Hangar with their longer term objective to develop a world first in a new material substrate to manufacture holds that can be refurbished and finally recycled.

“The support that we are receiving from LCEI is critical because sustainability is at the heart of our expansion but the R&D is far beyond our expertise, they have been brilliant in helping us find where science meets commercial needs." – Ged MacDomhnaill, MD, Climbing Hangar

UKE (Used Kitchen Exchange)


Used Kitchen Exchange

UKE is a multi-award winning disruptive business who specialise in the resale of used (second hand) and ex-display kitchens.

The business founders developed the concept after buying their own used kitchen online, finding little help out there for someone wanting to buy or sell a used kitchen. They also discovered that the kitchen industry operates within linear working methods by not considering an ethical solution with the majority of used kitchens ending up in landfill. The founders saw this business opportunity, their vision being to change how the industry operates - pioneering sustainability. UKE approached LCEI to devise a way of calculating how much carbon is saved when a kitchen is reused.

Much of the data required did not exist so LCEI developed a lifecycle carbon assessment and carbon calculator to quantify the embodied carbon and waste carbon emissions in a typical kitchen.

UKE can now quantify and compare the environmental and financial benefits of buying or selling a used kitchen, thus communicating a strong message to end users and supply chain.

“The work that LCEI has undertaken will allow us to quantify and demonstrate how the kitchen industry can operate more sustainably.” – Helen Lord, Founder/Director, Used Kitchen Exchange

Smylie Ltd.

Smylie Ltd. is a privately owned family run business based in Wirral and they specialise in the sourcing and distribution of British food and drink for the export market.

After engaging with Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory, a carbon assessment of the business was carried out in order to implement a carbon reduction strategy and action plan.

The assessment has also enabled the company to enrol onto the UN Certified Emission Reduction (CER) Credits scheme, which results in Government certified carbon reduction.

Smylie Ltd. are now able to declare themselves as a carbon neutral company which represents a leading step within their sector in terms of environmental strategy.

“We want our operation to be as sustainable as possible and Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory has helped us to devise and implement an effective carbon reduction strategy.” – Chris Smylie, Director, Smylie Ltd.

Red Star Brewery


Red Star

Established in 2015, Red Star Brewery produce a range of cask conditioned ales using the finest English malts and a selection of hops from around the world.

The company challenged Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory to come up with ways to make their process more efficient and accurate.

Initially, a feasibility study on using various sensor technologies was carried out to analyse and assess the beer during production. This resulted in the design, development and use of various sensor technologies to partially automate the process and this will enable the company to save significant amounts of time as a result.

LCEI also highlighted potential options to collect and recycle the water used during the production which would result in a significant greenhouse gas reduction and cost savings for the business.

“It has been satisfying to watch a research project come to fruition.” – Glen Monaghan, MD, Red Star Brewery

More case studies...

> Product design and testing
> Buildings
> Carbon assessment
> Process control and monitoring
> Waste and wastewater management
> Ongoing student projects