THIS year's Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) Awards in Exeter saw Woolsery Sports and Community Hall take home the 'Carbon Reduction' trophy. A major renewable energy programme has seen the installation of solar panels, a wind turbine and

THIS year's Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) Awards in Exeter saw Woolsery Sports and Community Hall take home the 'Carbon Reduction' trophy. A major renewable energy programme has seen the installation of solar panels, a wind turbine and ground-source heat pumps.The hall has also introduced a waste separation and recycling system, and a policy of sourcing food locally wherever possible. The 2001 building is no stranger to success, having previously won a number of sustainable design awards for Bideford architects Gale and Snowden. "This is a brilliant model for other communities to replicate," said DEBI judge Mark Hodgson. Three more local organisations went home with finalists' trophies, beating off stiff competition from almost 100 entrants. All three are using solar power to generate electricity or heat water, alongside a wide range of other sustainable initiatives. Ilfracombe Junior School's numerous eco projects have all been integrated into the curriculum, with each class taking part in gardening, composting and recycling projects. Other highlights include a hydro turbine at Millbrook Cottages, Higher Bickington and a commitment to local, organic and Fairtrade food and drink at Yarde Orchard cafe on the Tarka Trail. "It's great to hear so much good news from Devon businesses despite the economic climate" said DEBI Chairman Andy Vickery. "More and more firms are finding that green initiatives can give them a major marketing edge, and at the same time help to keep their energy bills and other resource costs to a minimum." The night's biggest prize went to Paignton Zoo. Having triumphed in the Sustainable Tourism category, the Zoo also went on to clinch DEBI's overall Green Business Award for 2008. "Large tourist attractions aren't renowned for their environmental responsibility" said the judges. "But the Zoo is refusing to take the easy path. By addressing the impacts of every aspect of its extensive site, it is setting a shining example for both its visitors and the whole attractions sector.