Dorset Council has been recognised for an innovative solution that reduces energy consumption and saves money.

The council received a silver award at the International Green Apple Environment Awards – which featured more than 800 nominations worldwide. A ceremony was held at the Houses of Parliament.

It won the award for its electronic hotbox at the Charminster Highways Depot. The hotbox is a solar powered container that keeps asphalt hot while it is stored.

The council is the first to install such a device and as well as saving money, it is helping to meet the council’s target of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.

It is slightly bigger than a skip and uses an array of solar panels installed on the depot’s roof, removing the need for the council to purchase electricity or gas to run it.

When in use, the hotbox runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week using a maximum of four electric elements. It doesn’t use much more energy than a kettle.

The judges said of their project: “In pursuit of environmental goals, Dorset Council optimised renewable energy by utilising solar panels to power the UK's first all-electric asphalt storage hot box, reducing carbon emissions by 80,443kg/year.

"Their commitment to corporate social responsibility aligns with Dorset's climate emergency declaration, driving innovation and a path towards becoming a carbon-neutral council by 2040.“

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment picked up the award with Dave Blackburn and Neil Turner from the highways team.

Cllr Bryan said: “I am thrilled our innovation has been recognised with a Green Apple award. Powered by the solar panels on our Charminster depot roof, it is reducing our reliance on expensive electricity and gas and bringing us closer to our 2040 net zero target.

Dave Blackburn, waste and recycling manager for highways at Dorset Council, added: “We needed to replace our propane gas powered unit so when the manufacturer, Proteus Equipment, told us they had a prototype all-electric unit we jumped at the chance to trial it.

“Costing the same to purchase as an equivalent gas-powered unit, the hotbox enables us to be self-sufficient with our energy consumption and gives the crew a consistent supply of hot asphalt to carry out local pothole and patching work.”

As a result of this International Green Apple Award success, the council has been invited to accept Green World Ambassador status and have its winning paper published in The Green Book (the leading international work of reference on environmental best practice) so that others around the world can follow their lead and learn from their achievement.

The Green Apple Awards are run by The Green Organisation - an international, independent, non-profit, non-political environment group that began in 1994 to recognise, reward and promote environmental best practice around the world.