This five-year programme of activities aims to help stimulate growth in Dorset’s low carbon economy and reduce the county’s carbon footprint. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the project is hosted by the council and supports businesses, community, and public sector organisations. The aim is to help improve organisations’ energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy, and aid the development of new low carbon products.
The council provides free technical advice to support organisations to deliver carbon reduction projects and, until recently, grants were available to cover 40% of project costs. Work is underway to secure funding to continue the programme when the current EU funding dries up. The programme is the first of its kind in Dorset, working across two unitary authority areas, covering both the urban and rural county.
This programme may be unique in creating in-house energy expertise via technical officer roles, rather than using funds to buy in energy audit consultancy services, resulting in the council being able to be respond to client needs. Technical officers support clients from the initial stages of understanding their energy demand, through to completing the installation of their low-carbon measures. This has enabled the council’s knowledge of ‘what really works’ for organisations to grow and adapt how support is provided in future.
Building this knowledge has also enabled the council to share tried and tested tips, by creating sector-specific guidance and case studies. These resources provide other organisations with an insight into the benefits and challenges involved in delivering a low carbon project. The organisations supported are often the most powerful advocates to encourage others to get started on their low carbon journey. Due to the strong relationships they build with technical officers, the council is able to amplify their voices through its communications channels and create peer-to-peer learning opportunities with organisations looking to implement similar projects.
The grant fund has specific innovation criteria for public sector organisations, encouraging innovative, whole-building approaches to reduce energy consumption. The council has supported small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop, test and market new low carbon products, or introduce innovative energy-saving processes to their businesses.
The headline outputs for our grant funded projects are:
Carbon emissions reduced by over 10,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent per year
More than 1,000,000 kWh per year reduction in energy use in public buildings
13 megawatts of renewable energy installed
64 rented homes with energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy installations
Seven SMEs developing and testing low carbon innovations.
The programme has also:
Helped SMEs remain viable and protected community spaces through tough economic conditions
Enabled public sector organisations to lead by example and inspire local climate action
Shown low-carbon measures can be installed at sites subject to planning constraints
Helped stimulate growth in Dorset’s low carbon economy
In total, 195 completed projects, plus 16 contracted projects due to complete by the end of January 2023, have received a total of £6.2 million grants. Combined with match funding, this has contributed over £17 million to Dorset’s low carbon economy. The council has contributed approximately £95,000 towards running costs and internal costs for hosting the project. In addition to carbon savings, grant supported projects also create financial savings. For example, Dorset Council’s Greenspace Team is estimated to save £5,000 -£10,000 a year thanks to its low carbon project.