Help local organisations and authorities assist small businesses to improve their energy efficiency.

Our story

Many small businesses (SMEs) want to reduce their energy use, save money and lower their carbon footprint, but lack the time or resources to unlock the financial, environmental and social gains available through energy efficiency upgrades. Until now, it has not been financially attractive for Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) to address this unmet need, due to the small scale of potential projects, expensive finance, and costly measurement and verification.

We created an innovative Energy Service Company toolkit, “ESCO-in-a-box”, to equip organisations from local authorities to community energy co-ops with the tools they would need to offer energy efficiency services to local SMEs who want to implement change. ESCO-in-a-box is intended to deliver low hassle, financially viable projects to these SME clients, by providing access for the enabling organisations to standardised processes and documentation based on international best practice; competitive loans and finance opportunities; and support with marketing and communications.

Initial, early-stage funding for our ESCO-in-a-box concept, as well as the establishment of the first ESCO,was provided by BEIS. Future licensees will either pay a fee or be developed as partnerships through licensing agreements with participating organisations. ESCO-in-a-box enables each licensee to start a commercial enterprise with SMEs in their local area and address this demand for energy efficiency improvements.

ESCO-in-a-box is not only a toolkit but also a service. For example, EPConnect helps interested organisations in their initial market research and in setting up the tool; in applying for grant funding if needed to get started; and on an ongoing basis through our relationships with national lenders who can finance the projects undertaken with local SMEs.

Our first ESCO-in-a-box solution has been implemented by Low Carbon Hub and Oxford Brookes University’s Environmental Information Exchange, working in partnership, and branded “Energy Solutions Oxfordshire”. This “Energy Solutions [Local Area]” branding is also part of our ESCO-in-a-box toolkit for other organisations around the UK to use if interested. The branding kit includes template collateral, reports, and a recognition program – ‘Energy Pioneer Awards’ to recognize customers.

The opportunity for organisations across the country that enjoy strong links with local businesses in the community and want to deliver energy efficiency projects is immense. Following the successful uptake in Oxfordshire, we are actively seeking to support more organisations in working with their local business communities on energy measures.

Our advice

Standardised documentation from legal to sales and marketing makes the process much more efficient for everyone involved.
Access to national lenders and blended finance packages for organisations to offer to their SME clients provides a low-risk option for funding potential projects.
Flexible licensing arrangements helps reduce upfront costs for participating organisations.
The toolkit and services are transferable across the UK and not unique to Oxfordshire.
Local recognition for commitment to reducing impacts from climate change and helping the community is a strong motivator.

Our metrics

  • For organisations who use ESCO-in-a-box, success is measured in terms of number of businesses undertaking energy efficiency and clean energy projects, carbon reduction benefits locally, and additional revenue generation. For small businesses who use the ESCO service, success is measured in terms of lower energy bills; time saved implementing energy efficiency measures and reduced carbon emissions.

Read more:

Share this initiative