Local Authorities and business leaders should partner with community energy groups to achieve net zero emissions for Sussex

In May of 2019 the UK Government accepted that we are in a state of ‘climate emergency’ and has since enacted legislation to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Closer to home, Brighton & Hove was one of the first councils in the country to declare a climate emergency and has pledged to become a carbon neutral city by 2030.

These are very encouraging developments and show a commitment and determination towards tackling the climate crisis that the world most certainly needs. 

However, it is naive to imagine that governments and councils have the resources and expertise available to hit these targets on their own. 

In particular, the decarbonisation of heat has been identified as a significant challenge which can only be addressed by strategic community partnerships. This will involve close co-operation among a variety of stakeholders such as Distribution Network Operators, planning authorities, business leaders, and homeowners.

Community energy groups like BHESCo are ideally positioned to act as a trusted intermediary between these different stakeholders, working hard to deliver the most satisfactory and cost-effective solutions for the whole community.

By their very nature, co-operation is embedded into the DNA of community energy groups; projects can only be delivered by combining the know-how and resources of architects, engineers, installers, property owners, and investors, who all make a valuable contribution towards the goal of transitioning away from fossil fuels in our energy supply.

This is not simply our own biased opinion either. A recent UK Government paper investigating the development of heat networks identified energy services companies (ESCo’s) as playing an absolutely central role in facilitating and project-managing multi-stakeholder energy projects:

Establishing local partnerships and governance structures to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions.

According to Brighton and Hove City Council’s own research “95% of Brighton & Hove’s carbon emissions come from transport and ‘stationary’ energy such as domestic and commercial heating and energy consumption”.

This means we have direct control over the most emitting sectors of our economy – transport and the built environment. 

By taking collective action to reduce the amount of gas and electricity required to heat and power our homes and businesses, we can reduce levels of carbon emissions from our buildings and make significant inroads towards our shared target of net zero emissions.

The leader of the Council, Nancy Platts has said: ““Our city is full of people with knowledge, creativity and goodwill that we would love to harness”. At BHESCo we believe that the key to making the best use of Brighton and Hove’s ‘knowledge and creativity’ is to establish systems that promote co-operation and ‘joined up thinking’ and which encourage partnerships between policymakers and local business.  

We need spaces and forums where stakeholders from across the community can come together to share their ideas and concerns and to hear from community energy experts who can provide clarity over the costs and feasibility of specific initiatives.

High level research agrees that co-operation between local authorities, businesses, and community energy groups is essential if real progress is to be made

Developing community partnerships to tackle the climate emergency is an idea which has been echoed in a number of recent reports from leading industry organisations such as Regen and Energy Systems Catapult, as well as the UK Government’s own research.

Designing policies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions is one thing – implementing those policies is something else entirely, and this is where co-operation between policymakers, property owners, and community energy organisations is essential.

A report from Regen, a not-for-profit sustainable energy research institute, concludes that:

The most important thing that cities and regions can do in the next decade is to put in place local partnerships, supported by communities, public bodies and businesses, that will sustain the energy transformation.

Energy Systems Catapult reiterate this opinion in their excellent report ‘Innovating to Net Zero’ which reinforces the importance of engaging a wide-range of stakeholders from across the community to successfully deliver sustainability projects:

Plans and strategies would be developed in light of local priorities, demands, current infrastructure and resource availability, as well as the regional and national systems they are linked to. They should be
developed in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders (local authorities, energy networks, industry bodies, community groups, etc).

Conclusion - How community energy groups can transform net zero policies from admirable ambitions to tangible projects

At BHESCo, we understand that is is not always possible for Local Authorities to deliver on  every policy they pass, even with all the goodwill in the world. 

A number of limiting factors can contribute to an inability to bring certain projects to fruition, with the most common examples being budget constraints and skills shortages. 

The same can apply for businesses who have established carbon reductions goals but may not have the available capital or human resource to invest in these targets.

BHESCo was established precisely to remove these limiting obstacles from any organisation who wishes to make their property portfolio more environmentally (and financially) sustainable. 

By meeting the upfront project costs on behalf of customers, BHESCo removes any financial hurdle that may prevent a property owner from making improvements to the energy performance of their buildings. 

Case Study:

Annual Carbon Saving:

2.6 tonnes CO2

Junction Studios

Annual Financial Saving: 


Similarly, BHESCo’s wealth of expertise in the energy industry and proven record of quality project management means that property owners and facility managers can have every confidence that they are pursuing the most cost-effective and practical solutions to their specific heat and power needs. 

BHESCo have worked with Brighton and Hove City Council on a number of succesful projects to install rooftop solar PV systems on schools, colleges, and community centres around the city. Furthermore we have partnered with over fifteen local businesses to help improve the energy performance of their premises, including many well known Brighton businesses such as The Werks Group and Fabrica art gallery.

We are ready to begin new projects with property owners across Sussex who have ambitions to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero. 

We have ten years left in which to take action on the climate emergency before the window of opportunity has passed. 

Give us a call and let’s get started…