Allia is managing a new programme to help businesses across Cambridgeshire reduce their carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency and work towards Net Zero.
It has been created by Cambridge City Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Growth Hub and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and is funded by the UK Government through the Shared Prosperity Fund.
The 18-month programme aims to support 223 SMEs based in Cambridge, Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire and will also deliver grant funding of up to £5,000 to 75 of these businesses to help them implement energy efficiency-related improvements.
Allia and PECT will work with the councils and the Growth Hub to deliver the programme, with Allia responsible for managing the grant aspect of the programme, overseeing the distribution of capital grants, helping eligible businesses secure funding for carbon-reducing technology, equipment, or sustainable enhancements.
PECT a sustainability charity based in Peterborough, is responsible for the technical elements of the programme, providing expertise and guidance on sustainability practices to help businesses develop their own net zero roadmap.
Experts in sustainability will help organisations understand how to embed sustainability into business operations and integrate climate change into decision-making, through working with them to create a bespoke five-year Net Zero Roadmap.
A Net Zero Roadmap (NZR) is a strategic plan that outlines the steps and actions businesses need to take to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions. The roadmap will be tailored specifically to each business, considering individual circumstances, challenges, and goals. It will also provide a clear path to reducing their carbon footprint, improving energy efficiency, and embracing sustainable practices, all while aligning with a business's objectives.
Importantly, developing a NZR delivers real commercial benefits for each company that take part in addition to reducing energy costs, it helps to meet customer and staff expectations on sustainability standards and meet quality requirements set by stakeholders and investors.
Andrew Brisbin, Director of Ventures at Allia Impact, said: "I am thrilled that we are able to help tackle the big thorny issue of Net Zero for businesses. It is critical that entrepreneurs and businesses are supported in making a meaningful change and can understand how their operational choices and objectives can make a huge difference. Looking forward to collaborating with our amazing partners, PECT and the councils, who are eager to change the world for good."
"PECT are excited to be bringing over 25 years' experience of working with businesses to improve sustainability to the Green Business Programme, going Net Zero has a multitude of benefits for businesses, including saving on energy costs, attracting and retaining staff, improving market competitiveness and generally future-proofing the organisation." says Jenny Wilton, Project Manager at PECT.
Cllr Alice Gilderdale, Executive Councillor for Community Wealth Building and Community Safety at Cambridge City Council said: "We are delighted to be a partner in this important programme offering practical support to local businesses to progress their Net Zero journey. Improving sustainability can help reduce costs and increase customer and staff satisfaction, which is especially important given the significant pressures on businesses caused by the cost-of-living crisis and tight labour market. We also welcome the opportunity to support local businesses to join us in addressing Climate Change in line with our vision of a Net Zero Cambridge by 2030."
Cllr Peter McDonald, Lead Cabinet Member for Economic Development for South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "We are excited for this opportunity to be able to support local businesses on their journey to becoming Net Zero. This project demonstrates that businesses play a key part in achieving Net Zero objectives and how we can work collaboratively in working towards reducing climate change."
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said: "Helping small and medium-sized businesses navigate the transition to a Net Zero carbon future will be vital for both their future and the sustainability of our economy. This is a great example of partnership working between the Combined Authority, local councils and the charity sector to make a real difference in helping local businesses adapt to change."
Cllr Sam Wakeford, Executive Councillor for Jobs, Economy and Housing at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "We are thrilled to be part of this collaborative effort to empower businesses with the resources they need to embrace the drive towards net zero emissions. As set out in our corporate plan, we want our local economy in Huntingdonshire to attract businesses that prioritise reducing their carbon footprint and this initiative reinforces that commitment to supporting local businesses in their journey towards sustainability and a greener future. This programme offers not only financial support but also invaluable planning and diagnostics to help businesses make meaningful, sustainable changes. Together, we can pave the way for a more environmentally responsible and prosperous business community."
Cllr Lara Davenport Ray, Executive Councillor for Climate and Environment at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "Businesses prosper or fail on their ability to adapt. Today the greatest adaptation challenge is our changing climate. Huntingdonshire's entrepreneurs tell me they are keen to both adapt and cut their carbon footprint, but many don't know where to begin. What changes should they make to the fabric of their buildings? How should they alter their ways of working to prepare for the future? The Green Businesses Grant scheme will help fill these gaps in knowledge. Each of our forward-thinking businesses faces unique challenges. This scheme is the key to unlocking vital capital required to fund unique transitions into a greener economy."
Applications for the programme are now open and businesses can find out more information on the Future Business Centre website, as well as apply online.