Supporting businesses with grants to reduce their carbon footprint is just one of the ways that Newcastle City Council is helping the local economy recover.
As well as administrating over £61 million in business support grants to provide vital cash lifelines through the coronavirus pandemic, the council is also part of a scheme which provides energy advice and grants to help firms become more sustainable and carbon neutral.
The Business Energy Saving Team is providing free energy audits and grants across the North East to help businesses reduce their emissions and develop cleaner and greener ways of operating.
Gosforth-based architect firm Space Architects, received a grant of more than £7,200 to help install low energy lighting, slashing their energy bills and carbon footprint.
Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group, said: “Energy conservation and carbon reduction is a big part of what we do now, and through implementing operational changes such as changing our lighting, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
“BEST was suggested to us and the process went incredibly well – the auditors were very supportive, it was smooth, and I’ve only got positive things to say about the experience.”
The BEST project supports small and medium sized firms across the Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland council areas.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for 2014-2020, the £1.34 million scheme aims to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions and in turn their energy bills, with over £670,000 in grants available.
Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council, said: “We are in unprecedented times created by COVID-19, but we still remain steadfastly committed to Newcastle becoming net zero by 2030.
“Everyone has to play their part to help us achieve this, including businesses small and large, which is why it is extremely positive to see local firms benefiting from the services this great project offers.
“Rising energy bills are one of the biggest spends for businesses and this project helps those businesses to cut energy costs and save money while making a valuable contribution to reducing harmful carbon emissions.
“I encourage all eligible businesses to take advantage of the advice and funding being offered by the five local authorities and use this opportunity to make positive changes.”
Following an initial enquiry, free energy audits are carried out by Blyth based Narec Distributed Energy, a spin-off from the National Renewable Energy Centre
Companies are then given the opportunity to apply for a grant towards a third of the cost of implementing any recommendations in the report.
Space Architects, which is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2023, received £7241.42 towards an on-going LED lighting project that overall has the potential for 31 tonnes of carbon savings.
It is estimated that the grant funded lighting upgrades will account for 20.1 tonnes of that.
In this instance Space hope the improvements will not only help achieve its carbon reduction target and reduce its energy bills but demonstrate to customers their commitment to sustainability. Space have set themselves an ambitious target to achieve Net Zero carbon by 2023. With the help of BEST and other changes within the business, Space is currently 85% towards achieving this.
For more information about the support BEST offers and to find out if your business is eligible, visit www.best-ne.co.uk.