Dr Andrew Garrad – Bristol Green Capital Chair

DR Andrew Garrad

Dr Andrew Garrad

BLM met with the chair of Bristol Green Capital 2015 and renewable energy pioneer Andrew Garrad, to talk about the city’s sustainable ambitions.

Firstly, can you tell readers about your background?

“I started my own business in 1984 in London, having previously spent five years working for one of the UK’s biggest wind turbine energy companies.

“But we found that people working in wind energy didn’t want to be based in EC1, so after a systematic study we came to Bristol.

“We thought that renewable energy, and in particular wind energy, was going to be a big industry, and at this point it didn’t really exist. We thought the industry would need a serious consultancy and we wanted that consultancy to be us.

“So we set up with two aims – to be independent and rigorous. The company is internationally focused and we are based in 29 countries around the world; but the concept has always remained the same, to be expert consultants.

“In the last twenty years we have played a big role in project finance and technical advice and we were involved in the world’s first one billion dollar wind farm.

“By the time I pulled out of the operational side we employed about 1,000 people altogether around the world, with 400 staff in Bristol.”

So, why do you feel Bristol won the honour of Green Capital 2015?

“I must say that winning was nothing to do with me and it was a case of third time lucky.

“There were three attempts, first under Labour, second under a Liberal Democrat led Council and finally under an independent Mayor.

“That tells you that this is coming from a groundswell of green enterprise, thinking and entrepreneurship. Winning isn’t a celebratory prize, but a recognition of achievement and that we have lots to do.”

What do you think the impact of Bristol Green Capital will be?

“What I would like for us to achieve in this year is for sustainable thinking to become more mainstream.

“We are not trying to run the year. We recognise there are many activities, projects and organisations already going on and people already doing things, which would have happened anyway.”

What events will be happening in the city?

“We will be hosting the Global Parliament of Mayors in October, as there is a feeling that countries talk and cities act, and with 1.5 million people per day moving to live in a city, we will bring together Mayors from cities across the world.

“We will also be having a major meeting of business leaders from across Bristol. Some people will object to big businesses being involved in environmental issues and I completely understand that.

“But my position is that unless everybody takes this step, nothing really substantial will happen. So getting big businesses involved in this, not exclusively but as a collaboration, is important.

“I was with a big company the other day that had an energy bill three times that of Denmark – so getting big businesses involved will be vital in order to enact change.”

What are the over-riding objectives of Bristol Green Capital 2015?

“To encourage local empowerment and to put Bristol on the map. We want to make sure that if investors are looking at the UK, they are not thinking just about Bristol, but also London.”

You have worked all over the world, what are your favourite cities?

“Well my favourite places where we have an office are Zaragoza in Spain and Immola in Italy.

“Take Zaragoza, it is the sort of society we used to have 50 years ago – where most employees come from the area, they go home for lunch and everybody walks or cycles to work.

“When I go there it feels as if this is how life should be. It is a very satisfying, sensible, beautiful and friendly place.”

To conclude, what or who has inspired you in life?

“Mathematics and the Danish people have both been an inspiration to me. The way they’ve (the Danish people) handled energy and the built environment is a lesson to us all.”