Carbon Numbers

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Carbon Numbers's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Carbon Numbers is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Neil Fright, managing director
Monitoring energy
Carbon Numbers was established in 2012 around an ethos
of uniting philosophies and technologies that help to
manage and reduce energy consumption. Established
as a small consultancy, and based in Colchester, Essex, they
support clients to minimise their usage in a way which helps
to effectively deal with risk in the market; many of their clients
simply don’t understand the difference between good and
bad energy technology. Carbon Numbers, and their managing
director, Neil Fright, want to help not just by reducing
consumption, but by educating their clients. With a workforce
of 33 employees, they implement tailored energy-reduction
solutions for clients which focus on delivering savings and
removing the risk for the customer.
The best way to ensure that our solutions function at their peak is to focus on
delivery. Most of our competitors will build a box, or provide a plan – we bridge the
gaps, and deliver an end-to-end offering that helps people to understand and reduce
consumption by reviewing their technology. We’re a consultancy, and we rely on our
expertise – new energy technology can often alienate consumers and customers,
and all of them want to understand how they can be sustainable and cost-effective.
Most, if not all, of our clients want to support sustainability, “get green” and
control their costs – doing all three in one fell swoop is really a no-brainer.
The areas we operate in are strictly non-residential, and typically do not include
the manufacturing sector. Major energy consumers – such as manufacturers
– have been under pressure to be sustainable for a while, and are typically far
»Managing director: Neil Fright
»Established in 2012
»Based in Colchester, Essex
»Services: Specialists in energy
»No. of employees: 33
»We deliver self-financed
»On average, our clients save
9 per cent in the first year.
Typically, we identify a 35 per
cent saving with a return on
investment of under three
years. Within a five-year
contract term, we will save the
equivalent of a year’s worth of
energy for our customers
Carbon Numbers
more aggressive in managing their
consumption. Most of our clients see
energy as between two and four per
cent of their costs, and while that
isn’t massive, it can still be reduced.
We have worked with car dealerships,
investment banks, the London
Symphony Orchestra and the Museum
of London – an eclectic range of
industries, to say the veryleast.
CORE values and massive
We operate along a set of values
linked together by an acronym: CORE.
This breaks down into commitment,
ownership, responsibility and
excellence – and it’s something
we try and drum into all Carbon
Numbers staff. Although it’s actually
a system used traditionally by football
managers, it’s straightforward and
accessible for staff at any level. We
also have an appraisal and goals
system which makes working at the
company an incredibly individualised
experience – but everything links
back to these four values. We want
everyone not just to work by them,
but to live by them.
It’s thanks in part to these four pillars
that we have been able to grow
at such speed. In 2012, it was me
and one other employee; not long
after, we acquired a local company,
Eco Control Systems, and grew that
number to 11. The strength of our
ranks has since trebled, and turnover
has reflected this – in our first year, it
increased by almost 100 per cent and
has since settled at 15 to 20 per cent
year on year.
New initiatives and long-term
One of the largest new programmes
we have undertaken recently has been
the establishment of our own cloud,
Carbon Cloud, which allows us to
manage and monitor sites remotely.
Embracing these new technologies
has been key to our success – we
find that because we can offer an
all-encompassing, tailored service
through these methods, clients quite
often end up staying with us for five
or ten years.
Of course, this does not come easily;
though we tend to meet clients
through recommendations and word
of mouth, we quite often acquire
contracts on transactional incidents.
For instance, we will undertake a
standard, one-off energy audit or
maintenance visit, and treat that as a
test, during which we try to make our
service and quality incredibly evident.
It’s an arduous endeavour, securing
clients, but we have managed to
succeed. Some customers pay for our
consultancy service, and others just for
the technology, so we ensure that we
offer a pick-and-choose range of all-
encompassing solutions.
Technology working in
the building
One of the
largest new
programmes we
have undertaken
recently has
been the
establishment of
our own cloud
Highlighting best practice
Growing isn’t easy
Securing financial capital and
investment is difficult. Indeed, nothing
about supporting growth in small
business is easy. We do have one
individual of high net worth who
backs the business – but without him,
we just don’t have the connections
and capacity necessary to raise
capital. There’s a lot of public sector
discussion about working with SMEs,
but, ultimately, the process just
ends up being too convoluted, and
As a small firm, we don’t have the
ability to enter talks for months or
years on a “maybe” – the procurement
rules and frameworks are often so
complex that it just has to be the big
companies, and that doesn’t let the
people on the ground work flexibly.
The NHS and other local authority
bodies always say they want large
contracts in the hands of smaller
businesses – but they always find a
reason for it not to happen.
Energy legislation is another real
hurdle. There are so many changes
that it just gets saturated and
overcomplicated, and, quite often,
companies have to question whether
or not the same policies will stand
under a different government, which
could well be the case in a few years’
time. Policymakers just haven’t found a
coherent way of creating an accessible
strategy or structure for all businesses
to cut energy costs.
Finally, we recognise that Brexit
continues to be an issue. Anything
that creates uncertainty provides a
barrier for long-term investment –
something which is a natural part of
energy management. This then means
that projects stop being released, and
capital stops moving. It just stands as
another reason for potential clients to
not work with us.
A connected, confident future
Above all else, we want to deliver
higher-quality solutions at a greater
pace. Helping customers to improve
emissions and environments while
decreasing costs remains a sentiment
that underpins what we do. We foresee
that wellbeing will start to affect the
way in which we operate – rather than
energy costs being the priority, we
anticipate that as society starts to link
cognitive behaviour and productivity
with buildings and environments, people
may focus on energy management in a
different capacity.
We also want to see more legislation
with regards to, for example, the
designed amount of fresh air in a
building – currently it’s a minimum
requirement, which just isn’t
tantamount to a healthy future.
Our sector is far from mature, but
change is coming, and we want to
be a driving force for it. Beyond that,
however, our aim really is simple:
we want to see a profitable and
sustainable future for ourselves, and
for our clients.
customers to
emissions and
costs remains
a sentiment
that underpins
what we do
BEMS connectivity

This article was sponsored by Carbon Numbers. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister