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Review of The Carbon Trust for SMEs


The Carbon Trust are one of the most recognisable names in the fight against climate change. They are the name that often first comes to mind when we think about doing something ourselves to tackle climate change and they have some really good resources for small and medium sized businesses who are looking to reduce their energy use and save carbon.

So, I thought it would be useful to give some background about who they are and what they do.

Who are the Carbon Trust?

The Carbon Trust are an independent not-for-profit company who were setup by the UK Government in 2001 to help businesses and the public sector to contribute to the UK's shift to a low carbon economy. As well as offering services to organisations (see below) they give policy advice to the UK and other Governments. They have become internationally recognised as experts in this field and have contributed to the development of some of the fundamental global standards relating to the measurement and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

What do the Carbon Trust do?

The Carbon trust offer a number of services to companies and public sector organisations including:

Carbon management consultancy

This includes giving advice on carbon reduction, energy audits and carbon footprinting services.

Employee and stakeholder engagement. 

They can help you get your employees and other stakeholders involved in your carbon reduction programmes with tools and advice..

Organisational and product certification. 

They were the first to introduce carbon certificates for products and organisations and have since broadened their certification services into water and waste.

Free materials and advice

There have a wealth of free materials, tools and advice available on their website, some of which are reviewed below.

In addition to these services the Trust leads several major low carbon innovation programmes and provides policy advice to governments and corporates. 

What resources do the Carbon Trust have for SMEs?

The Carbon trust have a range of free services for small and medium sized business available on their website

Click here to visit the Carbon Trust services for SMEs

Carbon Footprint Calculator

This free calculator is a quick and easy way for businesses to calculate their operational carbon footprint. This is the total greenhouse gas emissions from use of fossil fuels, in both building and vehicles and is known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 in the jargon (click here for an explanation). Note this does not give a complete picture of the carbon footprint of your business as it does not include the footprint of your supply chain or your products and services (which for most businesses accounts for 50-80% of total greenhouse gas emissions). However, it is a great place to start gaining an understanding of your emissions.

Energy Benchmark Tool

This online assessment tool gives a quick comparison of your energy use compared with other businesses in your sector. It is linked to the carbon footprint calculator so it is a good place to go next. It is very approximate since it is based on industry averages but it will tell you if your energy use is within or above the industry standard and links to a number of useful energy efficiency guides which provide useful, practical advice on how you can reduce your energy use:

  • Office energy efficiency guide
  • Lighting overview guide
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning guide

Other Energy Efficiency Guides

The Trust also offers a range of other useful guides including sector-based guides for :

          • Office based companies
          • Retail
          • Hospitality
          • Events
          • Manufacturing
          • Warehousing and Logistics
          • Agriculture

They also have guides to other green technologies including:

          • Renewable energy sources
          • Refrigeration
          • Electric vehicles
          • Heat pumps
          • Building fabric
          • Energy storage
          • Motors and drives

These are good places to get an introduction to some of the energy efficiency opportunities that might be available to you and are very readable.

Click here to view and download the list of guides available

LED Lighting Business Case tool

This tool helps you assess your current lighting usage and the savings you might get from upgrading to more efficient lighting and will help you estimate the Return on Investment. 

Fleet Upgrade Tool

This tool helps you compare the greenhouse gas emissions of your current vehicle(s) with the emissions of a potential replacement (such as an all electric or hybrid or one with a smaller engine) and estimates the financial savings and return on investment. The list of vehicles available is rather limited but it is very quick and easy to use and may give you a useful quick comparison which will help you decide whether to investigate further. You will probably need to take further advice on the models of interest before making any decisions.

In summary

The Carbon Trust are one of the most respected names in carbon management and have an enviable reputation for their consultancy services for large public-sector bodies and corporates wanting to manage their carbon. They also have some excellent free services and tools that small and medium sized businesses will find very useful as introductions to their energy and carbon saving journey, which we recommend checking out.

When you are ready to take the next step in your journey Go Climate Positive offer a complete carbon management service that makes it easy and affordable for smaller businesses to calculate, reduce and offset their carbon footprint and get a certificate to prove it.

Click here to learn about our carbon management services for SMEs.

Written by Eoin McQuone

Eoin (pronounced like "Ian") is the Chief Carbon Coach and founder of Go Climate Positive. He is a Practitioner member of IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management) and a sustainability lead on the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force.

Eoin says, "Sustainability is no longer a 'nice to do', it is business critical. My goal is to make it accessible and affordable for every business, however big or small , no matter their market sector."

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