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1st – 5th September 2014

I finished last week by taking a Nissan Leaf for a 24 hour test drive. It is worth recounting my experience here. Firstly I must say it was great fun to drive and is a wonderful car. On hand over the dealership pointed out the system learns your driving style and puts out a forecast on mileage based on this. Fully charged it was telling us we had 95 miles whereas from new it would say 120 miles. I drove it as economically as I would my diesel Audi (I regularly get over 60 mpg) and chose to test it on a route my wife drives a couple of times a week. If we could comfortably complete this journey it would be the deciding factor, as she could do it more often and still save money. The drive is about 60 miles round trip and we got to the far end with only a third of the charge leaving us very happy. However the return in the dark and rain and maybe a little faster (but not at the speed limit) on the motorway nearly drained the battery. Despite suggesting there was insufficient charge remaining I was able to get it back to the dealership the next day. Just. It would seem that 80 miles is fairly normal in terms of range (Leaf owner and colleague Tim Just has confirmed this), which is just under the distance we’d need to feel comfortable for that run given a diversion or a side errand could easily stretch it. We will however start measuring all our journeys...

The dealership was clear that a Leaf is where they can provide seriously good offers right now. Since we live in the countryside and have slightly longer average journey distances (and fewer charge points) we needed a little more convincing, but not much. Getting a charge point fitted at home right now is pretty cheap (compared with payback time) as British Gas will do one for ~£115 or ~£214 if you want the fast charge version. Some dealership offers include even this subsidised fee. If you haven’t tried an electric car yet I’d certainly encourage it despite not committing just yet myself.

This week I haven’t travelled as my first child is due very soon. It has been a great opportunity to catch up on admin and personal development as well as receive a lot of phone calls!

Monday I covered off end of month admin and continued to process of transferring our upcoming Urban Data competition to my new colleague James Taplin. Tuesday I joined a call with colleagues to discuss our input to the House of Commons Science Select Committee on use of biometric data. I then heard feedback on our planned circular economy call from Forum for the Future companies via their systems team who have been helping us shape and frame the competition. I also took the chance to plan my diary post paternity leave and book in travel.

Wednesday Catherine Joce called to plan events later in the year supporting two Resource Efficiency competitions and I talked with Sophie Thomas about The Great Recovery project. I spent much of the day uploading new case studies to the Horizons tool. Thursday I did more Horizons uploads, talked social enterprises and communities with our new Urban Living Lead Technologist and all-round sustainability expert Niraj Saraf and finished the day getting competition scope feedback from Nitesh Magdani at BAM Construct UK who has some string project ideas for the circular economy in construction.

By Friday I was in danger of catching up with my inbox and ‘to do’ lists as I tied up lose things that had been waiting days and weeks to be completed. A bit of a luxury!

Other topics discussed this week: part re-usable nappies, getting some sleep, ball bearings.

Stat of the week: it takes almost 500,000 litres of water to extract just 1 kg of gold

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 0 kg CO2 – no travel!

Mike Pitts