Energy services companies (ESCOs) provide energy solutions and financing support to organisations that want to combat their carbon output. However, it’s difficult for small and medium-size businesses (SMEs) to tap into this level of expert guidance. In Oxfordshire, the ESCO-In-A-Box initiative is changing this story.
EP Group – an energy efficiency finance consultancy – partnered with Low Carbon Hub and Oxford Brookes University to launch a community scheme that would help local businesses adopt energy-saving measures.
The project was part-funded by a £1.1M grant from the Government’s BASEE programme which powered the development of a unique community ESCO called Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOx). EP Group worked with ESOx to lead the development of ESCO-In-A-Box. This virtual box – filled with low-carbon resources, best practice guides, and practical tools – helps local authorities, organisations, and community co-ops to offer energy efficiency support to SMEs. It means local environmental initiatives can go to market quickly and efficiently to better serve local businesses.
The team in Oxfordshire worked tirelessly to get the scheme off the ground and it’s already helping SMEs to implement decarbonisation measures and green technologies. We’ve also developed a strong network of local suppliers and contractors.
Many local authorities have made promises to reach net-zero in the coming decades and we believe initiatives like ESCO-In-A-Box can help them to meet ambitious targets. The scheme can be tailored to suit different regional and industry-specific challenges across the country and around the world.
The initiative will shortly launch in Birmingham, and we’ve already taken it to Kenya where local community groups and organisations are using the resources to support food, agriculture, and horticulture businesses.
Get engaged – It’s vital to include local people and businesses when shaping any community initiative. We began the Oxfordshire project with a series of SME workshops which enabled us to understand local need and engage those frontrunners who were likely to be early adopters.
Standardise documentation – Easy to understand and implement documentation for everything from legal to marketing makes processes more efficient for everyone.
Consider access to funding – Access to national lenders and blended financial packaging can help SMEs to access low-risk financing for projects.
Create flexible licensing – Flexible licensing helps to reduce cost for participating organisations and increase uptake. The toolkit and services are also completely transferable to other areas.
Recognise local success – Local recognition helps to raise community awareness and increase interest in this type of initiative.
Greenhouse gas emissions avoided (tCO2e) by business clients.
Number of business clients supported.
Number of local low carbon contractors appointed to a supplier framework.