Adnams, a medium-sized brewer based in eastern England, beat a host of businesses across the country to claim top prize in the Carbon Trust Innovation Awards 2007, also sponsored by the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The award adds more evidence of how the brewing sector can take a lead in the food and drink industry on reducing environmental impact. Adnams' winning initiatives include creating one of the lightest beer bottles on the UK beer market so far. A 500ml beer bottle weighs in at 299g, making it around a third lighter than previous efforts and cutting Adnams' carbon emissions, or 'footprint', by 415 tonnes per year. The brewer's flagship innovation, however, was opening a new, 4,400m², low carbon distribution centre built with lime and hemp, complete with a 'living' roof lined with sedum, or plants. The roof is able to catch "most of the water we need to use on site", Adnams said, and also helped to regulate internal temperature. Energy savings based on 2006 prices were estimated at £49,000, the group claimed. Emma Hibbert, Adnams corporate affairs manager, said it was pleasing to get recognition from the Carbon Trust "because they set the highest standards". Carbon Trust is a private company but funded by the UK government. Hibbert echoed previous claims across the food and drink sector that environmental practices would become central to consumer buying decisions. "Consumers want to know what's behind the product, at what kind of company the organisation is - whether it looks after the environment, people and the community." Evidence gathered over several years suggests brewers are well-positioned to cut their carbon footprint by saving energy and water. Energy use per pint of beer produced fell 47 per cent between 1976 and 2005, according to figures from the British Beer and Pub Association. Hibbert said: "There's more that can be done, even though we've made huge inroads. But it's true there's been efforts by the industry for many years to reduce the amount of water and energy usage." Adnams is currently modernising its brewery and is in the process of commissioning a new brewstream that will divert steam to reheat the next brew instead of into the atmosphere. The system improves steam recovery by 90 per cent, inevitably cutting down on energy bills. In a rather more dictatorial approach, Adnams has also set up an internal Action Group to educate staff about the need to save energy - even down to turning off lights after visits to the office toilets.