Collaborating to cut carbon and costs: raising ambitions to county-level

Sometimes we need to join forces to realise our ambitions. Suffolk County Council and Carbon Smart have been helping local businesses to identify cost and carbon savings they could never have achieved on their own – by working with their neighbours to form local energy networks.

A local energy network (sometimes called a district network) is one where heat or power is provided to multiple buildings or sites from one central source. The ‘local’ or ‘district’ network is a decentralised system meaning that the heat or power is produced close to where it is used, rather than through a large power station and transported through the National Grid, thus reduces transmission losses and lowers carbon emissions. Often such schemes include renewable energy or low carbon technologies such as solar panels or CHP (combined heat and power) plant.

Carbon Smart have been working with Suffolk for over two years, and this recent project forms the latest initiative to help the County reach its ambition of being the greenest county. To date they have supported businesses to increase their energy efficiency, generate their own power through renewable energy systems and are now trying to maximise savings opportunities through energy networks. For the businesses involved joining together for a network should bring increased resilience and security of supply, a revenue stream, more competitive energy prices and reduced emissions.

Carbon Smart have mapped the county identifying suitable sites for energy networks and we now have 5 projects moving forward including:

  • Maximising the value one site gets from their solar panels, with benefits like giving neighbouring businesses the opportunity to buy local, green electricity while relieving pressure on the local grid.
  • For another a CHP system will provide power to two light manufacturing sites who will share the benefit
  • We’re also working with the landlords of an industrial estate to explore all options for their mixed-use site – reviewing options energy efficiency and clean energy to supply their tenant businesses. Options include solar, biomass boilers or ground/air source heat pumps.

None of these projects would be feasible for an individual business, due to the scale of the systems, however by joining forces and working with neighbours, these larger scale, higher impact projects can become a reality.

By supporting initiatives like this, Suffolk County Council can enable many more carbon-cutting projects than any single business could undertake. Carbon Smart have seen many local business leaders catching the vision for cutting costs and carbon, and go on to access support and investment that would not have been possible without such a coordinated, scoping approach. Councils have the power to have a real impact when it comes to developing cleaner energy in their area and we hope that thanks to available funding and regional coordination, they seize it.

Cestrian Imaging – the 100th company to achieve our certification

Cestrian Imaging is one of the latest companies to be Carbon Smart certified, the digital imaging and creative brand company joining a significant number of companies that since the beginning of the year have achieved the highly successful standard. With an average of thirty companies per month signing up to achieve the standard, the certification scheme continues to be one of the most successful in the country. Nevertheless, why would a company like Cestrian, which already boasts ISO 140001 and EMAS (The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) accreditation, join the scheme?

Cestrian Imaging employs over 100 staff at its offices and print factory in Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester; over the last three years the business has worked hard to achieve ISO14001 and EMAS accreditation. Together, these environment management systems have supported the business to drive building improvements, technology and behaviour change, with the company achieving demonstrable reductions in all its key resource use areas: gas, electricity, water and vehicle fuel, as well as raw material use reduction.

In January, Cestrian approached Carbon Smart to assess its management systems and environmental improvement activities with a view to becoming Carbon Smart Certified. It did so as the company recognised the internal and external benefit that a third party assessment could deliver.  From an internal perspective, the fact that Cestrian was awarded Silver, over the Blue standard, was an acknowledgment of the sustainability results achieved by the company. Opening up what already appeared to be a successful project for scrutiny has raised confidence in the management system. Both the review, which helped to tweak small elements of the system, and this knowledge, provided a valuable boost to the morale of the staff working on the systems. Importantly, with regular assessment Carbon Smart Certification will continue to enhance staff responsibility, commitment and motivation and will demonstrate the need for continuous improvement.

From an external perspective Carbon Smart Certification is a great opportunity to validate that the business is truly growing in a sustainable manner.  It helps Cestrian, and other scheme members, to demonstrate that the business has considered operational performance and wastage, and therefore efficiency, which reflects positively on reputation.

The uniqueness of the scheme means that whether you are a business like Cestrian, which recognises the importance of validation and a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to review activities, or a business at the start of the sustainability journey, then having support from the service and becoming Carbon Smart Certified will benefit your business.

For more information about our Certification scheme, click here or simply contact / 0207 048 0450. 

Suffolk Greenest County

From mushrooms to swimming pools: tales from Suffolk

Carbon Smart’s ambitious Suffolk Carbon Leaders programme kicked off in the New Year and has really hit the ground running. So far the Carbon Smart team have worked with 23 medium-sized businesses in the county, calculating their carbon footprint and developing clear, practical recommendations for action. Ranging from mushroom farms to corporate offices to leisure centres, the challenges faced by these businesses and the opportunities for resource efficiency improvements have been both significant and diverse!

The Suffolk Carbon Leaders programme is first and foremost about motivating and supporting action, so we have been working closely with our clients to really understand what their business is hoping to achieve in terms of driving environmental improvements, and also what their specific limitations might be. Whether their focus is on cost savings, developing their public profile, or engaging with their staff and service users, this attention to detail has enabled us to develop targeted action plans with environmental objectives, capital costs, financing, and payback times that are not only feasible for the business but also fit with their specific culture and ambitions.

Since the start of the programme the Carbon Smart Team has identified potential savings of 3 million kWh worth of energy savings, 1,500 tonnes worth of carbon savings and over £500,000 worth of cost savings for the participating businesses. We are now looking to turn these potential savings into actual savings – as part of the implementation phase of the project the Carbon Smart team is working to support these businesses in putting their action plan into practice and taking their environmental performance to the next level.

As part of the programme the Carbon Smart team have also been submitting businesses for the Suffolk Carbon Charter which is a Suffolk-based accreditation scheme. We are delighted to announce that our first two businesses have been certified, one achieving the Gold award and the other achieving the Bronze award. Both companies were awarded their certificates by the Councillor at the Suffolk Carbon Leaders launch event on the 13th of March. As the programme progresses we look forward to seeing many more of our participating businesses follow in their footsteps and join Suffolk’s growing green business network.


Suffolk Greenest County

Suffolk businesses to help county to become the country’s greenest

Businesses in Suffolk are about to enjoy the undivided attention of the Carbon Smart team as our new resource efficiency programme launches in January 2014.

Delivering substantial carbon and cost savings across the county, the programme aims to assist medium sized businesses to get their workplace and workforce in tip top condition. Medium sized businesses (50-250 FTE) are one of the carbon hotspots in Suffolk. Although they account for just 0.2% of the organisations in the county, they contribute 20% of private sector turnover and employ 20% of the private sector workforce. As such we are targeting these key contributors to the county’s emissions, and helping them to get their businesses in shape.

Carbon Smart’s consultants will design and implement solutions to save each businesses energy, reduce carbon emissions and minimise resource use at each site. Recognising that these challenges can seem daunting to businesses, our dedicated consultants will work on a one-to-one basis with each organisation to ensure that every solution is practical and can be put in place alongside business as usual. We won’t be shy; we really do roll up our sleeves and get stuck in! Where the right resource efficient solution requires investment, access to funding and finance sources will be sought. Business around Suffolk will be able to tap into over a dozen green finance and grant schemes, most of which are underutilised to date.

The scope of this programme is ambitious; we anticipate take-up of solar panels, efficiency boilers, biomass solutions, LED lighting system and greywater reclamation to be at an all time high across Suffolk by the end of the programme. Suffolk’s well known goal is to become the ‘greenest county’, and we will certainly be playing our part in getting them there!

European Regional Development Fund

New programme for London Councils and their resident businesses

Carbon Smart has begun an exciting project working with the councils of Barking and Dagenham, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth, who have secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund. We will be working with 60 businesses to reduce their environmental impacts and improve their sustainability profile. Participating organisations will receive the following benefits at no cost to themselves.

• Certification: they’ll join thousands of businesses in Carbon Smart’s nationally recognised certification scheme and a network of like-minded businesses in their sector

• Professional tailored communications material:

– carbon footprint: we’ll quantify their carbon footprint and put it into a slick report
– a practical and straightforward environmental action plan
– a winning environmental policy: we can help them write one or review an existing one
– a communications pack full of logos and marketing text

• On-site support: one of our experienced consultants will come to their site and install some kit (all free) to reduce their costs and impacts.

Our consultants are relishing the opportunity to take practical action onsite to reduce the environmental impacts of these organisations, with a huge variety in those already engaged. Our favourite day visiting businesses so far has included a designer handbag company in the morning and an archaeological society in the evening.

Carbon Smart Winchester Programme: Second year…twice as good!

winchesterIt feels like only yesterday that Carbon Smart was celebrating the first 100 businesses to be accredited to the Carbon Smart Winchester programme, and we are already celebrating another great bit of news.

Due to the phenomenal sign up rate for the initial programme and the excellent help that was provided to businesses to go green, Winchester Council have asked Carbon Smart back to operate a second year of the programme to help even more local businesses.

This year the programme aims to build on the fantastic achievements of the businesses that are already signed up to the scheme, by helping them take further steps to develop their environmental credentials and achieve the next level of Carbon Smart certification. We will also be working with fifty new businesses to join the initiative and providing them with bespoke support to reduce their environmental impact. By developing a green action plan to identify business related resource savings, programme participants will be well on their way to reducing monthly utility bills and attaining the first level of carbon smart certification.

Carbon Smart’s approach to the Winchester Programme can really make a difference to small and medium sized local businesses, by providing them with consultant level support at absolutely no cost. All participants have the opportunity to network with other like-minded businesses at the initial workshops and are invited to exchange valuable knowledge or ideas on how best to tackle the environmental challenges faced by businesses today. Every participant will be provided with a carbon footprint calculation; helping them to further their understanding of the impacts of their business operations on the environment and what areas should be addressed as a priority. All of this support provides the basis of a sound environmental management system, and allows those who participate the opportunity to make the most of their new green credentials to attract more customers.

Many SME programmes currently in operation across the UK, report that their greatest challenges to success are in recruitment of businesses to their schemes. Carbon Smart understands that small businesses are often constrained with resource availability, both in terms of time and staffing. As a result of this, we have designed the Year 2 programme and support to be as flexible as possible, with the majority of the ongoing support provided remotely either over the phone or via email. Workshop dates and locations will also be varied to complement our flexible delivery, and to ensure that everyone taking part gets the most out of our fun and engaging sessions.

For further information on the Carbon Smart Winchester programme and how to take part, please contact

Carbon Smart Winchester celebrates over 100 certified businesses

100winchesterSome of the greenest businesses across Winchester District gathered together to celebrate their Carbon Smart Winchester status this week.

The event celebrated the first 100 businesses to be accredited under the scheme, which recognises efforts made to improve environmental performance.

Carbon Smart ran the scheme on behalf of the council and provided Carbon Smart certification to each successful business.

Want to hear more about our certification? Contact / 0207 048 0450.

Carbon Smart supports small businesses looking to grow in the low carbon supply chain!

growLiverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP) is responsible for developing and delivering a Low Carbon Economy in the City Region. One of the organisation’s key objectives is to support the growth of small businesses looking to become part of the sector supply chain or to grow in the sector. In June 2013 LCR LEP engaged Carbon Smart to deliver a short ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funded business support programme to support this objective.

The programme engaged with over 20 companies through 1:1 business advice and workshops, which focussed on how companies could develop their business to take advantage of opportunities in the low carbon economy. The workshops included guidance on how to market ‘green’ credentials, how to complete a successful tender and a meet the buyer session. In addition all participants received Carbon Smart Certification.

The scheme was so successful that it was over-subscribed, with Carbon Smart supporting an additional 4 businesses within short timescales.

Supply Cross River 2 (SXR2) – making your business more efficient

small biz growthCarbon Smart is thrilled to announce its participation in the new ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) ‘Supply Cross River 2’ programme, an initiative developed by the Cross River Partnership and designed to provide environmental support to small to medium sized businesses in central London and stimulate local economic growth.

The project has been designed to ensure that local businesses across all sectors are in a position to benefit from the vast array of business opportunities that exist in central London, by identifying low carbon opportunities, business resource savings and green marketing ideas. Beneficiaries will have access to environmental support workshops, one-to-one support tailored to their individual needs, to networking and to ‘Meet the Buyer’ events highlighting how to win new business in a low carbon economy!

By assisting each business, Carbon Smart will be able to help each participant develop their own environmental policy and gain certification to the nationally recognised Carbon Smart scheme. Not only will this allow businesses to stand out against their competitors, but it will create unique selling points and help businesses grow and promote their services.

The project starts now is open to all small to medium sized businesses in the City of London, the London boroughs of Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth and Westminster. Call Carbon Smart now for more information on how to participate!

Portfolio Items