Nearly 100 businesses in County Durham have significantly improved their energy efficiency in the last year, thanks to a project which helps save on running costs by reducing carbon emissions.
Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Durham County Council’s Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) team was able to support 97 SMEs during 2020.
Using funding awarded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the BEEP team offers energy efficiency advice and support, as well as grants, to help small to medium businesses (SMEs) make changes in their operations to reduce carbon emissions.
Within the last year, the total value of projects worked on was £292,000, with £67,000 of this provided as energy efficiency grants to businesses.
The work carried out with these grants has saved 435 tonnes of CO2 emissions, contributing to the county’s target of becoming net zero by 2050.
Under usual circumstances, the BEEP team provides in-person consultations to advise businesses on how to make energy saving improvements.
As this has not been possible due to the pandemic, the team wanted to ensure businesses’ energy bills continued to remain as low as possible and used virtual appointments to ensure consultations could still be carried out.
Caroline Hearne, Durham County Council’s BEEP manager, said: “Whilst we are aware that smaller businesses have a number of issues to tackle at this time, energy efficiency and the corresponding reduction in energy bills is an excellent area to focus on right now, ensuring ongoing costs can be as low as possible.”
Cllr John Clare, Durham County Council’s climate change champion, said: “It is fantastic that the BEEP team have been able to support so many small to medium businesses across the county, and that SMEs have been so willing to invest in this way, despite all of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The hard work of the BEEP team means this project has been able to contribute significantly to our climate pledge, helping to reduce emissions as we work to becoming carbon neutral as quickly as possible.”
The BEEP project is an ERDF funded project currently running until September 2022 and has grant funding available for SMEs to assist with the costs of becoming more energy efficient.
After declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the council announced its pledge to reduce carbon emissions from its operations by 80 per cent by 2030, and to make County Durham carbon neutral by 2050.
BEEP is embedded within the council’s Climate Emergency Response Plan, providing support to the wider county through advice and grants to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions.