In the current climate crisis, it’s important for both individuals and businesses to do their bit to protect the world we live in. So it’s perhaps no wonder that many small businesses are looking for ways to become more sustainable.
This guide explains what sustainability grants are and the different types that could be available to your business.
A sustainability grant is simply a business grant that is awarded to make your business more sustainable and environmentally responsible. Most businesses are focusing their attention on sustainability as tackling the climate crisis and working towards a net zero economy by 2050 becomes increasingly important.
A grant is a sum of money that is given to a business, usually by the government, local authorities or a private organisation. Although the grant does not need to be repaid, there are often restrictions on how you can use the money and many also require a level of matched funding for the project. This means that if you are given £10,000 for example, you will also need to invest £10,000.
Yes, sustainability grants and green grants are the same thing – they both award a sum of money to a business to help it operate in an environmentally-friendly way. This could be by installing energy efficiency measures in the business premises, for example.
Note, however, that green grants are not the same as green loans. Green loans are also available to businesses looking to finance sustainable projects, but as they are loans, the amount borrowed must be repaid with interest. However, green loan interest rates can be competitive and there are often fewer restrictions on how you can use the money compared to grants.
There are several different green grants available in the UK. Which option is right for you will depend on where your business is located and the sector in which your business operates. It’s important to compare your options carefully and check you meet the eligibility criteria. It can be worth seeking independent advice to help you decide.
Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) funds small businesses in the South and East of England. However, if you want to apply, you will need to do so soon as LoCASE is closing in June 2023. The registration process is expected to close to new applications on 31 March 2023, and approved projects need to be completed, evidenced and paid for by 30 June 2023 to be eligible for grant funding.
Until then, LoCASE can still offer grant funding to small businesses who are looking at green projects. Grants available range between £1,000 and £10,000. So far, LoCASE has helped a total of 1,278 SMEs.
The Eco-I North West Capital Grant Scheme is aimed at SMEs across England’s North West and seeks to support low carbon business innovations. It offers match-funded grants that can be used to purchase and install new equipment or technology, but it cannot be used to support running or maintenance costs.
Following the success of programmes such as the Marches Renewable Energy fund and the Business Energy Efficiency Project grant scheme, the Marches Energy Grant will offer free advice, energy assessments and grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures to SMEs from all sectors in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. Grants worth up to £20,000 are available.
Low Carbon Workspaces offers match-funded grants of between £1,000 and £6,750 to SMEs
in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire. Grants can be used to cover the cost of projects that will reduce your business’ greenhouse gas emissions.
SMEs in East Sussex may be able to apply for a grant of between £200 and £1,000 to cover a maximum 40% of the total value of their energy efficiency project through the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC. To qualify, you must have fewer than 250 full time staff, a turnover of less than £44 million and premises in East Sussex.
Energy for Business can provide grants of up to £10,000 to businesses in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The grant is for businesses that wish to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or who are implementing sustainable energy technologies. The capital funds 40% of the project cost through match funding and the maximum cost of the project must be no more than £24,999.
This grant is available to SMEs in all areas of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire, provided they are in the green tech, low carbon and renewable energy sectors. Grants start from £10,000 and can help you launch a new business or upgrade an existing one with innovative technologies.
The Green Recovery voucher scheme can help SMEs in Kent take advantage of environmental advice and services. Businesses in Kent can apply for a voucher of up to £1,500 to implement an environmental project to help improve business sustainability. This could be done through the installation of energy efficiency measures or the development of sustainable transport solutions, for example.
If you have an SME in Greater Manchester, you might be eligible for an Energy Efficiency Grant of between £1,000 and £12,500 to help with up to 50% of the costs of your energy efficiency improvements. The grants are available on a first-come first-served basis and can be put towards the cost of a new LED lighting system for your premises, heating equipment upgrades, replacement drives or motors and process efficiency investments.
The Business Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP) provides free energy and resource efficiency reviews and grants of up to £20,000 (up to 40% of the total project costs) for SMEs within Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire who want to use energy more efficiently.
This programme offers eligible businesses grants of between £1,000 and £50,000 to fund up to 40% of the cost of installing energy efficiency measures. This could be installing LED lighting, upgrading heating systems or installing renewable technologies. To qualify, your business must operate in Coventry and Warwickshire, employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of less than €50 million.
The BREEZ scheme offers eligible SMEs a 50% grant towards the total cost of making energy efficiency upgrades, such as the installation of LED lighting and heating systems. The minimum 50% BREEZ grant payable is £1,000 for a £2,000 energy efficiency project and the maximum is £7,500 for a £15,000 (or more) energy efficiency project. SMEs must be based in Sunderland to qualify.
The Business Energy Saving Team is a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local councils. It aims to reduce energy use and costs in SMEs based in Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland.
The programme can provide your business with a fully-funded energy efficiency audit designed to help you identify ways that you can save energy in your day-to-day business operations. This will help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
The Towards Net Zero Grant aims to help businesses in their transition to net zero. The grant is available through West Dunbartonshire Council and will contribute to 50% of approved project expenditure up to maximum of £3,000 to assist with implementing energy efficiency measures. These must have been recommended by Business Energy Scotland following an Energy Efficiency Assessment.
There are also various funding options which can help support the transition to clean energy. For example, the Clean Growth Fund was created in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the CCLA. It’s aimed at early stage, clean growth companies in the UK that are developing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve efficiency in energy, waste, transport and water use.
The typical first round investment tends to be in the region of £100,000 to £1 million, but the fund actively participates in follow on rounds so the overall investment in a company can be a lot higher.
Given there are so many different sustainability grants available, it can be hard to know which one is best for your business. But an easy way to narrow it down is to search for grants specific to your area – many grants are only available to businesses in certain regions, which means there will be a number you simply won’t qualify for.
Other eligibility criteria to check include limits on the size of the business, whether you need to have been trading for a certain length of time and whether there are any limits on annual turnover.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, then consider which grant best meets your business objectives. Check exactly what you can and can’t use the grant for to be sure it will work for you. Also check how much the grant will be for and whether you will be required to match funds – and whether this is possible.
When you’re ready to apply for a sustainability grant, you should be able to do so via the grant provider’s website.
You will often need to download an expression of interest form first and fill in details about your business, including your business address, business description and number of employees.
Alternatively, you might need to email or phone the grant provider to discuss your eligibility and next steps. Details should be available on the grant provider’s website.
Once you’re ready to make your full application, it’s important to be able to explain how the grant will help your business achieve its goals and objectives. If you’re being asked to match the funding, make sure you have the funds available.
The team at Swoop can provide additional support when it comes to finding the right sustainable grant for your business and how to apply.
By registering with Swoop and entering your company information in the ‘grant funding’ section of your Swoop account, you’ll be able to view all the available grants that might be right for you. Once you’ve made your decision, you will then be sent through to the application page for the relevant grant provider and you can make your application.
Ready to start your grant funding journey? See what you could be eligible for now
We work with world class partners to help us support businesses with finance