Ayrshire’s small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses have a new route to increase the sustainability of their businesses following a landmark deal between HALO and Net Zero Nation.
Meanwhile, Marie Macklin C.B.E., Founder and Executive Chair of the HALO Urban Renewal Company, has called on governments to provide more financial support for SMEs as they strive to lower their carbon emissions and achieve Net Zero.
As part of their agreement, HALO and Net Zero Nation will work together to give local and national SME businesses the opportunity to create and deliver Net Zero business plans within their organisations, improving the environmental performance of the businesses whilst delivering real economic benefits.
Marie Macklin said:
“There are more than 350,000 companies in Scotland with 98% of them being micro and small businesses. This partnership is designed to help support just some of them who want to transition to Net Zero.
“Last year, in the cacophony of noise around COP26, Mark Carney announced new loans and investments would be made available from the 450-strong Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. What progress has been made with this initiative to help SMEs to make the transition?
“SMEs are already paying the price of all the red tape associated with simply doing business, not to mention the cost-of-living pressures that we all face. Let’s ring fence just some of the funding from this initiative for a specialist fund in Scotland to help SMEs make the move towards Net Zero.
“Governments in Holyrood and Westminster need to step up to the plate too and outline what they are going to do to provide financial support to help SMEs to make the move to Net Zero. If we are to achieve our national targets, it’s not enough for us to rely on big business making the transition, we need to bring SMEs along on this journey too.”
The new partnership will be based within HALO’s Kilmarnock Enterprise and Innovation Centre. It is built on the belief that organisations of all sizes will need to take action to reduce the environmental impact of their operations if the UK and Scotland are to achieve the legally binding Net Zero carbon emissions targets which need to be achieved towards the middle of this century.
Marie Macklin believes the new partnership will act as a catalyst to help SMEs take action to deliver Net Zero within their organisations. She added:
“For small businesses, the path to Net Zero can seem very complicated and costly. When Citizens Advice and similar organisations asked SMEs about Net Zero, over 60% of them said that they believed Net Zero is not directly relevant to them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Legislation which currently only applies to large businesses is likely, over time, to place requirements on all organisations to monitor and reduce carbon and other emissions. Not only that, for these organisations to qualify to be suppliers for local authorities and larger organisations, they will need to demonstrate that they have carbon reduction plans in place. HALO and Net Zero Nation’s new partnership will help SMEs get ready.
“But I say again, what financial support is going to be provided to help the SME sector to make the vital steps towards achieving Net Zero?”
As part of the new partnership, HALO and Net Zero Nation aim to bring a diverse group of local SMEs together and will provide up-front and ongoing consultancy support to the organisations as they measure, manage, monetise and maintain carbon emission reduction plans.
Throughout the year-long initial phase of the consultancy the SME will be supported by a Net Zero Coordinator who will help the SME master the fundamentals of Net Zero and carbon accounting. Then, the SME will use specialist carbon accounting software to measure and benchmark the carbon emissions resulting from their current operations.
From this baseline, HALO and Net Zero Nation will work with the SMEs to create emission reduction business plans helping them to take meaningful action to deliver Net Zero within their organisations. As the reductions to carbon emissions start to be delivered, the Net Zero Nation team will be on hand to provide formal certification of the improvements, and this can be used to qualify for local authority and large corporate business procurement processes.
The multiple award-winning HALO Enterprise and Innovation Centre in Kilmarnock where the partnership will be based is itself powered by its low-carbon technology, including its 107 rooftop solar panels that can generate 36kWh of electricity; its 75 carport solar panels producing 24kWh of electricity for its electric bike and car recharging stations; the 50kW battery power storage; and the HALO’s very own bespoke electric bus – all powered by100% renewable energy.
Tabi Jayne, Co-founder, Director and Interim CEO of Net Zero Nation is excited at the prospect of HALO and Net Zero Nation working together and commented:
“Over the next year or two, SMEs face the prospect of losing business if they don’t have a carbon strategy. Having a high-quality carbon strategy in place will help SMEs win new business and open up considerable commercial opportunities, as well as delivering improvements in their profitability.
“Any SME that wants to protect their business as the world adapts to climate change should come into HALO Kilmarnock, have a chat with us and explore how this partnership can deliver benefits for their business.”
Jamie Burns, MD of Ailsa Reliability Solutions, who is an existing client of Net Zero Nation said:
“Being part of Net Zero Nation’s Net Zero Accelerator has given us more valuable information and insight into Net Zero and where we want to go as a business. By using the software and the systems provided we can now take control of our own destiny within our own Net Zero journey and start to have measurable data on what we’re doing in our day-to-day operations.
“One of our targets is to help our clients improve their carbon consumption and, with our increased knowledge on Net Zero, we can now support the industries we work in more effectively.”