Meet the Funder: The Carbon Trust – funding for energy saving projects

Laura Timlin, the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust has helped hundreds of businesses improve the way they work over the last decade. It could help yours too…

The Carbon Trust is an independent partner of organisations around the world which helps businesses contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future. So far, it has helped its customers to make direct cost savings of £5.5 billion – thanks, in part, to its Green Business Fund.
It can support SMEs in Scotland to develop low carbon strategies and policies to help reduce carbon emissions and become more resource efficient. Its advice can also help businesses cut costs and gain a competitive edge in what can be a challenging economic climate.
By applying for a Carbon Trust capital contribution and implementing an energy saving project, Northern Tool & Gear – based in Arbroath – is set to reduce its energy bills by £3,700 a year.
The company has been producing gears at its Scottish site since 1945 and has a team of 60 people, 48 of which are directly employed in the manufacture of gears, shafts and bevels on the latest CNC machinery.
It supplies parts to many facets of industry including: renewables, mining, marine, printing, material sizing, motor sport, quarrying, pumps, steel processing, defence, railways and craneage. The firm also stocks a range of gears for classic car models and manufactures bespoke gears for motorsport.
After applying to the Carbon Trust, Northern Tool & Gear installed LED lighting, which is expected to save more than £3,700 each year when it comes to energy bills.
The firm also received a £7,100 rebate from the Carbon Trust’s Green Business Fund towards the total cost of the project.
Managing Director Gordon Strachan said: “Our experience with the Carbon Trust was very smooth and ‘user friendly’. I would recommend working with them to anyone considering energy saving projects.”
The Carbon Trust has worked with some of the biggest names in business to help them save money. A few of them include BT, Coca Cola, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Samsung, Stagecoach, and Whitbread.
We caught up with Laura Timlin, Director of the Green Business Fund at the Carbon Trust, to find out how SMEs in the east of Scotland can benefit too.
Check out her Q&A below.

Q&A with Laura Timlin

Q: What type of funding does the Carbon Trust provide?
A: UK SMEs which have already identified an energy saving project they would like to progress can receive up to 30% of the project costs, up to a maximum cap of £10,000. The Green Business Fund also provides advice and guidance to help save energy and cut costs.
We help businesses understand where they can save energy either through our workshops and energy audits. Follow-on support is also available to help businesses understand how to move to the next step. Typically, this support is provided by one of the Carbon Trust’s technical experts, who will help them scope their project and then get quotes for purchasing, installing and commissioning equipment through the Carbon Trust’s network of approved energy efficiency suppliers.
Q: Can anyone apply?
The Green Business Fund workshops, audits, and capital are available to SMEs in Scotland, England and Wales England, Scotland and Wales. Full eligibility criteria can be found on our website, while our advice service is available to all businesses with fewer than 1,000 UK employees.
Q: Why, in your opinion, are more companies looking to alternative finance/funding?
A: The business case for investing in cost-effective energy efficiency projects is clear, with paybacks typically achievable in under three years. However, businesses – and SMEs in particular – still find it difficult to allocate funding to these projects, as there are often multiple projects competing for the investment. Seeking out alternative funding solutions or accessing incentives often helps to address this issue.
Q: What are the main challenges for businesses and in your industry?
A: Often the biggest challenge businesses face when looking to improve their energy efficiency is understanding where to focus their efforts and investment. That’s why Carbon Trust has a wealth of advice and guidance to help businesses understand what they should do and then how best to do it.
Central to getting the job done is understanding how to choose a supplier, so you can be confident they will deliver a project that will result in the desired energy and cost savings. Carbon Trust has developed the Green Business Directory of accredited suppliers with a proven track record of delivering good quality work to help address this.
Q: What do you look for in a company?
A: Ideally, we look for companies which are keen to start saving and have secured internal commitment to improving their energy management performance through technical and behavioural activities. This internal commitment helps to drive projects forward and to carry them through to completion, so that the predicted energy and cost savings are actually realised. Also having access to energy consumption and billing data is particularly important, as this information is central to understanding existing energy performance and where savings can be made.
Q: What types of companies are most suited to this type of investment/funding?
A: The Green Business Fund service is particularly suitable for SMEs using old inefficient equipment within their existing buildings and operations.
Q: How does it work/what’s the process?
A: More detailed information on the services available and the application process can be found on the Green Business Fund page on the Carbon Trust website.
Q: What advice would you give to businesses looking for funding?
A: Have a good understanding of what you want to do and the likely benefits. Approach good quality suppliers and ask them to quote for the project, then review these with a technical expert to understand which approach offers the best value for your business.
Download free posters and stickers from the Carbon Trust to encourage your staff to save energy

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