In just three years, the awards have become one of the most prestigious benchmarks of environmental excellence for corporate UK. The number of submissions this time is more than four times what it was in 2007, and the superb quality of entries continues to make the task of judging extremely daunting.
It is also encouraging to see the broad range of companies and organisations, large and small and from across many sectors, taking part. Of course, this largely reflects the scale and urgency of the environmental risks we face. And if we as businesses are to drive the low-carbon economy, we must both change the way that we do things and have the enterprise and innovation to help our customers do the same by adopting greener lifestyles.
These awards recognise the ability of business to achieve this in a way that simultaneously tackles the problem and creates prosperity. Legally binding targets committing the UK to cut its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 will certainly sharpen our focus on the challenges and the opportunities.
With this in mind, we at eaga, like so many companies today, are developing our own business to deliver end-to-end solutions to meet the green agenda. For us, this involves retrofitting the UK housing stock, which is typically old and wasteful of energy, with low and zero-carbon energy solutions.
With more than 5,000 employees operating across a national network, one of our key strengths in this endeavour is scalability. eaga is currently helping to improve the energy and thermal efficiency of more than 3,000 households every working day. We are also making every effort to promote social inclusion by ensuring that all our customers can share in the benefits of green living - regardless of ability to pay.
Quite apart from being the right thing to do, pursuing a policy of social inclusion is, in our view, the only way the UK will hit its carbon-cutting targets. Through the deployment of renewable and low-carbon technology, it is possible to both tackle the social issue of fuel poverty and make substantial contributions to our climate-change goals.
eaga has developed extensive experience with renewable technology. The planned introduction of the Feed-in Tariff next year will provide an important boost to the development of renewables in the UK, creating green-collar jobs that are both well paid and long-term.
The combination of environmental improvement and economic growth is precisely what we are celebrating and rewarding through these awards - so good luck to all those enterprises that entered.
Finally, we at eaga would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to John Chesshire, who co-ordinated the judging process for these awards and sadly passed away earlier this year. John was a former chairman of eaga's independent Charitable Trust for more than 10 years, and made a magnificent contribution to the whole agenda surrounding sustainability and social justice. His commitment to raising the profile of the climate-change agenda, and his relentless pursuit of fairness and equity as part of that process, have shaped policy in the UK and beyond. His good sense, knowledge and humanity will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues around the world.