Carbon Co-op are a community benefit society established in 2008 and incorporated in 2011 by Greater Manchester residents who had begun carrying out changes in their homes and communities to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills. The organisation is owned and run by the householders who make up its members and share the goal of speeding up the process of improving homes to the 2050 standards of 17 kg CO2/m2/a by sharing experience, knowledge and reducing costs through bulk purchase.

Jonathan Atkinson and Marrianne Heaslip of Carbon Co-op
with Leonie Cooper Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee
and Philip Selwood Chief Executive of EST

Improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, for which the demand is increasing, is an essential element in dealing with the challenges of climate change, fuel poverty and security of energy supply. However, as demonstrated by research undertaken by Carbon Co-op, the lack of clear assessment and decision-making tools are slowing the take up of whole-house retrofit works in the owner-occupied sector. To fill this gap and accelerate low carbon retrofit, Carbon Co-op and technical partner URBED have designed and developed “My Home Energy Planner”. This is a service enabling householders to understand current energy usage and make retrofit decisions about their home through the help of a trained assessor and a calculation tool.

Started as a small-scale spreadsheet-based service, investment from Innovate UK has turned “My Home Energy Planner” into an effective, financially sustainable and replicable system. This assessment tool is now modular, open source and capable of offering robust high-quality assessments at an affordable cost. Carbon Co-op have worked hard to evaluate the impact of “My Home Energy Planner” by continuously collecting real world data and analysing survey responses. Since its inception in 2012, 91 assessments benefitting over 200 households have been delivered in Greater Manchester, saving an annualised figure of 86.8 tonnes of carbon, 283MWh of energy and an average of £1,000 on net bills.

With the assistance of GMCA and BEIS, Carbon Co-op have also invested time and resources in creating a social franchise replication vehicle that will enable other community energy groups to adopt the service. A replication pilot is now taking place with several groups around the country, with Cumbria Action for Sustainability the first to be delivering “My Home Energy Planner” assessments. Alongside this, Carbon Co-op are sharing the benefits and learnings from the tool with a wide range of stakeholders at conferences, events, workshop and learning sessions for both members and non-members.

Carbon Co-op are the champions in taking a deliberate whole house, fabric first approach to retrofit. They continue to develop, deliver and expand the capacity for high quality, retrofitted houses and augment tools and services to support the demand for retrofit in Greater Manchester and beyond. “My Home Energy Planner” has truly revolutionised the delivery of energy efficiency works and its uniqueness lies in being tailored towards community energy groups.

Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales teamed up to deliver the Community Energy Awards 2017 to honour the organisations and individuals that have done the most to advance the sector over the last year and to celebrate their achievements. The ceremony took place on 1st November At City Hall in London.