Published on 03/08/2021
Green Gown Awards 2021
  • Low carbon SMEs provide free, expert energy efficiency support and advice to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in West Midlands
  • The Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges
  • 90 Finalists from 51 institutions in the UK and Ireland will compete across 15 categories

The Low Carbon SME project at Aston University has been announced as a finalist in the Green Gown Awards 2021.

The free service brings together Aston University academics, industrial expertise, and a solid understanding of the low carbon drivers that impact on SME businesses in the Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

The six-year project was set up in 2017 to help 165 businesses reduce their carbon footprint substantially – up to 7 tonnes per company - and make the transition to a net zero industrial future. The programme attracted a £1.7m grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), bringing together an expert team of over 20 members from Aston Business School comprising leading academics and industry practitioners.

The aim is to evolve a holistic approach to energy efficiency that will lead SMEs to higher productivity and increased net profit. The programme is delivered by Aston University and is co-financed by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The programme provides independent analysis of a business’s existing practices via an in-depth energy efficiency audit, which typically lasts between 2-5 days, and data analysis deriving the carbon footprint. The resulting bespoke Carbon Action Plan identifies practical and cost-effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Prasanta Dey, project director of Low Carbon SMEs, said:

“I am extremely proud the project has been announced as a finalist in the ‘Benefitting Society’ category at the Green Gown Awards 2021.

“The low carbon SMEs project had been conceptualised from a few British Council funded projects in Thailand, Bangladesh and India during the period 2010 – 15. Now the research findings from the low carbon SMEs project have facilitated to win several research bids related to circular economy adoption in Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya and India including a recent UKRI funded project on bringing SMEs productivity on track in post-pandemic period.

“The project has radically improved overall SME sustainability performance through the adoption of low carbon initiatives leading to business growth and improved employee productivity.”

Mr Jamal Lea, project manager of Low Carbon SMEs Project, said:

“We are developing digital toolkits and training programs for SMEs’ managers to derive their carbon footprints and implement measures for carbon footprint reduction in line with the UK Government’s ‘Net Zero’ policy.

“In four years we have brought a blend of world-class applied research and industry-led consulting leading to the “greening” of 85 businesses to date, largely from the energy intensive manufacturing sector, yielding average energy cost and CO2e savings per company of £8,879 and 40 tonnes CO2e, respectively.”

The Green Gown Awards 2021 recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges in the UK and Ireland. 90 Finalists from 51 institutions will compete across 15 categories, with the winners announced at a virtual ceremony on Thursday 18 November 2021 at 4pm.

Notes to Editors

About the Low Carbon SME project

A £1.7m ERDF award was secured in phases to deliver the Programme between 2017 and 2023; with a total project value in excess of £3.5m.

Activity is delivered across the West Midlands region in Greater Birmingham & Solihull and the Black Country.

In the UK, the Low Carbon SMEs project supported the aim of Priority Axis 4 of the European Regional Development Fund’s (ERDF) operational programme “to move England’s economy towards a low carbon model by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the share of renewable energy and enhancing energy efficiency”.

The impacts of this work continue to influence regional and national decarbonisation policies and supports the UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy

More Aston University green stories

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

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