City Leap: the spirit of Brunel

George Sakellaris, CEO of Ameresco, is pictured, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from George Sakellaris, founder, chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer at Ameresco Limited, part of Bristol City Leap alongside Vattenfall Heat UK, following the signing of the contracts at Brunel’s SS Great Britain.

As we usher in a New Year, many look to this time as an opportunity to evaluate our aspirations for new beginnings alongside it. Throughout Ameresco‘s 20-plus years in the energy industry, I have seen my fair share of progress, setbacks and industry aspirations come and go. However, this year holds a promise like never before, largely because of the Bristol City Leap partnership, a 20-year investment plan to help decarbonise Bristol through a unique public-private partnership structure.

As evidenced by conversations from COP26 in November 2021, global policy and attention has rightly shifted to addressing the impacts of climate change. We have seen an incredible surge in commitments and goals set by organisations across the world to advance the clean energy transition. While these commitments are important to forward progress across the board, Bristol City Leap stands out from the rest in its intent for eliciting immediate action. No matter where your community is, in Bristol, the UK, or somewhere else across the globe, it is crucial that we all strive to build momentum in support of furthering climate resiliency and carbon neutrality. When the Mayor acknowledged this need, he knew innovation would be the key to success, and thus, Bristol City Leap was born.

A group of people are pictured, standing, smiling, some with arms waving, in front of the SS Great Britain beside Bristol’s Floating Harbour, after the signing of Bristol City Leap’s contracts.
Celebrating the signing of Bristol City Leap’s contracts, outside Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Bristol City Leap is not just an impressive localised initiative for a municipality. It’s a true world first. Through services provided by our team at Ameresco, as well as local partners, this project will enable Bristol to drive the clean energy transition forward via energy efficiency upgrades, wind and solar services, heat networking and more. The Bristol City Leap framework is a unique blueprint for cities and organisations across the globe that are interested in utilising private sector funding to deliver projects that tackle climate change and improve air quality for residents at scale. I am personally energised and excited by Bristol’s leadership for committing to such an innovative and forward-thinking plan, which is designed to create 1,000 new jobs and cut 140,000 tonnes of emissions over its first five years.

Three people are pictured, sat down, smiling. Mayor Marvin Rees (centre) has just signed Bristol City Leap’s contracts at the SS Great Britain. Either side of him sit Britta MacIntosh, Senior Vice President at Ameresco Limited, and Stuart Allison, Director of Strategy at Vattenfall Heat UK (right).
Bristol City Leap’s contracts are signed at Brunel’s SS Great Britain on 17 January 2023

It falls in line with one of the hallmarks we’ve built our business on at Ameresco, which is the belief that we all play a critical role in caring for our environment. I can’t think of a professional endeavour that is more rewarding than being part of a company that has been steadfast in its commitment to do well by doing good, and transforming the energy industry in the process. It is incredibly gratifying to work with partners who share this same set of beliefs, like the administration in Bristol. The opportunity before us is immense as we continue to make progress on the path to net zero. 

As you consider your aspirations for this year, I urge you to ponder how you can be a part of leading change in our professional and personal lives. This global transition is not up to one individual, community or initiative. It is for us to do together. 

Bristol’s Cabinet endorsed the council entering the City Leap Energy Partnership on 6 December 2022. Contractual arrangements were finalised in January 2023. You can find out more information at: