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.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
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Highlighting best practice
38 | CARBON NUMBERS
Neil Fright, managing director
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
39CARBON NUMBERS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
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 veryleast.
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-
Technology working in
One of the
our own cloud
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | CARBON NUMBERS
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
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.
what we do
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.