This website is the face of the LCC Community Interest Company. Its principal aim is to provide a platform on which we, members of Suffolk SMEs can find AND provide knowledge on measuring, reducing and balancing our carbon footprints.
Low Carbon Champions CIC was inspired by, but is entirely separate from, the programme of the same name which ran in Suffolk between 2010 and 2013. Instigated by Suffolk County Council and delivered by Green Light Trust, the aim was to create ‘champions’ in SMEs who would help their organisations to lower their carbon emissions. It was hoped that ‘seeding’ champions in the community meant they would then help other SMEs do likewise.
The original Low Carbon Champions programme delivered a comprehensive combination of audit, action plan, training, mentoring, grant and charter award. It created nearly eighty champions in local SMEs many of which went on to be recognised at various levels of the Suffolk Carbon Charter. The project and its associated funding ended in early 2013 and was subject to formal evaluation by Essex University. Whilst deemed successful the demanding format and high costs of the original programme meant Low Carbon Champions proved to be unsustainable once external funding ceased.
We needed to look for other ways to deliver similar objectives. Borrowing ideas from the Positive Deviance Initiative and tools from social media, we created a web-based community that allowed small businesses to reduce their carbon footprint easily and cheaply. Instead of a top-down approach that is costly to deliver it relied on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to guide and peer-review progress.
The result was Low Carbon Deviants, an action research project which started in July 2013 and ended in June 2014. Funded entirely by main sponsor Neutral Territory and delivered by interns from the University of East Anglia, its aim was to help an initial cohort of eight organisations measure, reduce and balance their carbon emissions. A report describing its outcome was published in June with two key findings; a) that a simpler alternative to the Carbon Charter is needed and b) that carbon offsetting / balancing is a useful addition to the low carbon armoury.
Our aim now is to scale up the project in the summer of 2014. This needs people and money and to ease the access to both the project is being given a separate legal entity. Its name is changing too (deviance gave some people the wrong impression …) and the Low Carbon Champions CIC (Community Interest Company) was formed on 1 April, 2014. It is stressed that this has no direct connection with the earlier initiative of the same name or any of the people involved in it.
Our aim remains the same as the original Low Carbon Champions but with a significantly high penetration of the Suffolk SME community and at a fraction of the cost. This is only possible using new ideas and new technologies and our newly recruited interns are searching for new champions, new sponsors and new sources of funds to make it all happen.
This next step is the second phase of the action research project and seeks to build on the lessons learned from our initial endeavours. There are lots, and they too are detailed in the working paper.