A group of Barnsley businesses has pulled together to help each other start their journeys towards net zero carbon emissions.
The Net Zero Barnsley accelerator run by The Business Village brought together a community of 38 companies and commercial enterprises to map out environmentally friendly action plans.
The fully-funded, seven-month programme has ended with a final sharing event. It was set up to help businesses across the borough work towards the UK Government’s legal requirement to achieve net zero by 2050, and Barnsley’s own target to achieve this by 2045.
Participant Nick Roffey, commercial manager of Brebur Ltd, said: “The government has set a target for us all to achieve net zero, but it will be down to individual businesses to do the work. Tackling this is inevitable, so it makes sense to get started and help each other to speed up progress. Net Zero Barnsley has made this possible and created a collaborative not competitive process for all.”
The Net Zero Barnsley programme incorporated specialist sustainability coaching for businesses, peer-to-peer support opportunities and group workshops.
Participants have received 760 hours of expert coaching in total and all have taken first steps to net zero; working through carbon calculators to define and measure existing CO2 outputs and starting on innovation plans to reduce emissions.
Sixteen of the companies have also drawn up detailed decarbonisation plans which it’s estimated could reduce equivalent carbon emissions by 41,560 tonnes by 2025.
Thirteen in-depth energy audits have been conducted and these have led to carbon-cutting proposals which could collectively reduce annual CO2 emissions by 905 tonnes and energy bills by £726,000 a year, largely meaning the interventions would pay for themselves in just over three years.
Participant Diane Lawson, assistant principal of Northern College said: “Reducing our carbon emissions is the right thing to do and we’ve been very fortunate to be a part of Net Zero Barnsley and have a team around us, supporting and encouraging us, as we draw up our own sustainability roadmap.”
Nick added: “Whatever stage businesses have been at and whatever sector they’re working in, it’s been good to talk to people and see what others are doing.”
Collaboration will continue through proposed quarterly meet-ups, free use of a new net zero room at The Business Village to hold meetings on this issue, online forums, case studies and events. The companies have also committed to supporting the next cohort of companies who receive Net Zero Barnsley support.
Net Zero Barnsley business development manager Kevin Steel: “It can be daunting to start this important ‘must be done’ job and our businesses and coaches have worked really hard together to share good practice and new ideas for innovation.”
Actions to reduce carbon include switching to sustainable forms of energy, investing in new equipment to improve efficiency, adopting smart technology, making behavioural changes in the workplace, reducing waste, considering supply chains and supporting sustainable transport schemes for staff.
Funding for the Net Zero Barnsley programme comes from the government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and Barnsley Metropolitan Council.