Shouting Sustainability from the Rooftops with Molly Byrne
Future Leap has always existed to support the business community in its transition to Net Zero. We have done this with the belief that no business truly wishes to create irreversible damage to the environment. However, we understand that most businesses exist to make profit, and this means that organisational sustainability can become secondary to business operations pertaining to the bottom line. We aim to support your business sustainability journey through our variety of services including our inhouse consultancy team, Future Leap Eco Fit and Future Leap Finance.
When it comes to Future Leaps operations we strive to lead by example, showing sustainability
Our Gloucester Road site which opened in 2019 has been the epicentre of Future Leaps community and acts as a great example of what can be achieved when retrofitting an older property. From ensuring that there was zero waste to landfill in its development, to the use of an air source heat pump, LED lighting and even ghost fishing nets used for the carpet, we have strived to embed sustainability into every aspect of the site. One of the next important steps to reduce our carbon footprint would be on-site energy production, and due to the site’s location, a solar install was an obvious choice to explore.
For Future Leap, reducing our carbon emissions through this installation was not the only advantage of solar (expected to be over 3 tonnes annually). We knew that an installation would simultaneously boost our bottom line by providing approximately 25% of the site’s electricity requirements, while additionally allowing us to insulate ourselves from the volatility of traditional energy prices, ensuring long-term financial stability.
Finding the right tools and partner
We considered the environmental impact of the manufacturing of the solar panels, as the production of panels involves resource-intensive activities, such as mining and refining of raw materials, which can contribute to environmental degradation. For this reason, we decided to work with a partner that took a clear stance on their corporate social responsibility, planting 10x the square meterage of every solar install in the Tropical Andes. We additionally had to weigh the concerns of the manufacturing impact against the long-term environmental benefits and sustainability goals that the panels offered us as an organisation. Through an assessment of the solar panel installer through Future Leap Eco Fit (one of the newest members of the Future Leap offering, established to support businesses in getting quotes from reliable and trustworthy retrofit partners. Covering everything from solar, heat pumps and insulation) and by assessing the operational positive impact the decision was made that solar was the most appropriate choice for us as a business.
It was suggested that the optimal set up included 39 solar modules that would be mounted on the roof on a base frame, to maintain the integrity of the roof structure and would produce approximately 15,478 kWh annually. The installation was expected to save us over £163k in energy bills over the next 25 years, while generating a small amount of income through export to the grid.
Funding the project through grants and lending
Despite the clear financial and environmental benefits, as with all SMEs we had to assess how we would manage the capital costs of this project. Through the West of England Combined Authority we were able to apply for a Green Business Grant, a programme designed to help SMEs purchase and install new products and equipment that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut utility costs, and improve your energy efficiency. The grant programme that is running until March 2025 provides up to 50% of an installation cost and is available to any legal entity in the WECA area that has fewer than 249 employees. As part of the process, the site was subject to an independent energy assessment that highlighted solar as the most impactful step we could take to reduce the sites carbon footprint.
Once securing the grant funding we still need to raise the remaining 50% of the project costs. For this we went to Future Leap Finance, whose mission is to support in the financing of sustainable business activities. Through their lending partner we were able to quickly secure the needed capital to proceed with the project.
After the capital was in place, we were able to instruct our partners to proceed with the installation, which only took 5 days and caused minimal disruption to our standard business operations. The panels have been operational since October and have generated 992 kWh.
We can’t wait to see them reach their optimal operational capacity this spring and summer and share the stats with you.
Could you be next?
If you are looking into solar or any other retrofit option for your property and are looking for support in getting quotes from trusted partners, please contact
If you need support in financing a retrofit solution, please contact