Suffolk Carbon Charter: a quick Q&A
What's special about it?
There are a lot of different ways of measuring environmental performance already on offer. The Suffolk Carbon Charter does not aim to compete with these, but to fill a gap in the market. Targeted exclusively at Suffolk's small and medium businesses, the Charter is attainable for companies that do not employ a full-time energy manager, and that can't afford a rigorous Environmental Management System. We recognise that this category includes many if not most Suffolk businesses, including some of our most environmentally responsible local firms.
The Carbon charter is designed to be both meaningful and attainable for any business. Whether you're just starting out, or want to get formal recognition for your green achievements, this Charter will give you local recognition in a way your customers can understand.
Businesses applying for the Charter will be asked to complete an application form. Following an audit process they will be informed of the results and provided with information on how they can reduce their energy use further. The minimum requirement is an audit of energy use, adoption of a carbon reduction policy and a clear reduction target.
Will my company get the Charter?
All charters are awarded based on an independent assessment carried out by qualified auditors. Before applying, please consider carefully whether you meet the requirements for one of the three levels.
What's the difference between the levels?
The Charter has 3 levels; bronze, silver and gold. Full details can be found in the Charter Level Guidance, but, simply put:
Bronze - the business takes its carbon impact seriously
Silver - the business has significantly reduced its carbon emissions
Gold - the business is an exemplar of low carbon management
That doesn't sound too hard - what does it really mean?
Getting a bronze level charter is not supposed to be too difficult. This is a mark that is within the reach of any business - no matter how small. Here at Creating the Greenest County, we believe that real sustainability must involve everybody. Monitoring emissions and making those first easy reductions is a crucial step - and one that is worthy of recognition. Of course, it doesn't end there; we hope next year you'll want to move up a level. Creating the Greenest County is an ongoing process.
What's the Benefit?
The Charter uses a well-recognised brand to highlight your environmental achievements, which can be used in your own materials or on letterhead, etc. Chartered companies will also receive publicity in the form of profiles, and be invited to regular celebration and networking events.
How much does it cost?
The price for a Charter assessment is £550 (some businesses may be eligible for a discount - see below).
This covers all the costs from an onsite audit of the business and support in meeting the requirements for accreditation, through to the Panel's assessment and accreditation process. Various additional subsidies are available, and we will advise you if you are eligible for one of these.
If you are a supplier to the Co-op East of England, or are based in West Suffolk, you may be eligible for a discount - please make sure to mention this when you sign up.
How long does it last?
Your Charter accreditation does not expire - it is dated as an assessment of your business at a given point. However, we recommend that businesses should look to reaccredit every 2 years to ensure it remains relevant. There is a separate reaccreditation process - please see full information on our reaccreditation pages - www.greensuffolk.org/charter/charter-reaccreditation
Who's behind it all?
The Charter is administered by Groundwork East of England, and overseen by the Environment Agency and Suffolk County Council on behalf of the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership. The Charter was developed (and piloted) as part of ANSWER - a project identifying and overcoming obstacles to energy reduction in businesses and communities. ANSWER is co-funded by project partners and ERDF through the Interreg IVB North Sea region Programme. For full details, see http://www.northsearegion.eu/ivb/projects/details/&tid=73.
Further developments to the service were funded by the Climate Change Skills Fund from Sustainability East and Improvement East.
Who else has got it already?
A full list of organisations that are currently accredited to the Charter can be found at www.greensuffolk.org/charter/firms/.
If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please contact Ned Harrison.