• 4,500 SME licences to sustainability platform Zellar will help Local Authorities drive local sustainability action
  • Programme aims to save SMEs £6.3m in energy costs – helping to tackle the cost of doing business crisis – and offset 27,000 tonnes of carbon in its first year
  • Local Authorities set to access invaluable local insights on sustainable business progress for SMEs
  • Case study: SME reports electricity usage reduced by 78% with the programme.
  • Limited scheme for local authorities will operate on a first come, first served basis

SSE Energy Solutions is leading a campaign designed to help Local Authorities kickstart the journey to net zero and beyond for SMEs. SSE’s Sustainable Business Communities project aims to help 4,500 SMEs offset 27,000 tonnes of carbon and save a combined £6.3m in energy costs in its first year, as well as to provide Local Authorities with insightful data to help them report on sustainability progress in their region.

The scheme is driven by funding from SSE Energy Solutions to provide Local Authorities that apply with an initial 100 free annual subscriptions to Zellar; a sustainability digital tool for SMEs focused on community climate action. Zellar has also pledged to donate an equal number of licences. 

The newly announced partnership between SSE Energy Solutions and Zellar has already been shortlisted for both a National Sustainability Award for Partnership of the Year, and a Big Sustainability Award for Collaboration, for their efforts in helping SMEs to decarbonise. 

Both companies are looking for Local Authorities to take part in the project. In addition to the 200 Zellar licenses offered by SSE Energy Solutions and Zellar, Local Authorities will each be required to match fund a further 100 licences. This will enable 300 SMEs from each of the successful Local Authorities to benefit from a free Zellar licence – a total of 4,500 nationally. Local Authorities must register their interest before the end of March 2023 and will be chosen on a first come, first served basis.

Zellar’s sustainability platform makes it easy for SMEs to take their first steps towards creating a sustainable business. It provides regular, positive ongoing actions that encourage them to offset the environmental impact of their businesses within their local communities. Driven by a simple, tailored and measurable climate action plan, and a live score – Zellar not only benchmarks progress, but also enables SMEs to compare against similar businesses within their sector and local communities. The platform makes it easy for businesses to share their sustainability journey and score with customers, employees and stakeholders – helping to attract business and talent.

Local Authorities signing up to SSE Energy Solutions’ Sustainable Business Communities initiative will also be granted access to the rich data insights and case studies available within Zellar, enabling them to engage with local businesses as well to measure, benchmark and showcase local progress and share best practices within their community. The data will also help Local Authorities better support local SMEs with resources and investment.

In 2022 the East Midlands Chamber became one of the first regional bodies to benefit from having local SMEs on the Zellar platform, by subsidising 400 annual licences as part of its Net Zero Accelerator programme, supported by the UK Community Renewal Fund.  

Nikki Flanders, Managing Director of Energy Customer Solutions at SSE, said: ‘’For the UK to meet its net zero targets, it’s essential that businesses of all sizes are given the right tools and support to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Working in partnership with Zellar, we believe our Sustainable Business Communities project will be a vital enabler for SMEs to get to grips with their sustainability responsibilities and for Local Authorities to track and drive widespread community action.”

Gary Styles, CEO and founder of Zellar, said: “Zellar is on a mission to make sustainability possible for the UK’s six million SMEs. But currently most SMEs don’t even know where to start. At the same time the ‘cost-of-doing-business crisis’ is a threat to small businesses throughout the UK.

“SSE Energy Solutions’ Sustainable Business Communities initiative will put the Zellar platform into the hands of 4,500 businesses, enable them to understand their environmental impact on the planet at a local level, take actions to reduce and offset that impact within communities and at the same time reduce costs.

“We’re confident that Local Authorities will grasp this opportunity with both hands and join the East Midlands Chamber, which has already started work to get 400 local SMEs on track.” 

Crystal Doors, a Zellar SME customer based in Rochdale, is encouraging other businesses to try out the platform after they used it to switch to 100% renewable electricity with SSE Energy Solutions, reducing their overall carbon emissions by 30%.

Richard Hagan, owner of Crystal Doors said: “Zellar has become an invaluable tool for keeping our sustainability programme and business on track. We’ve taken huge steps towards carbon neutrality, and with behavioural changes and investment in green technologies we’ve also been able to reduce our electricity usage by 78%. I know that like us, many businesses feel that time is of the essence in learning how to decarbonise and reduce energy use, so SSE Energy Solutions’ partnership with Zellar is perfect timing to help empower more SMEs to reduce their utilities consumption and costs.”

Sustainable Business Communities is open for applications from today and will close once the first fifteen Local Authority places are filled. Local Authorities interested in applying to take part in the scheme can contact partnerships@zellar.com.