However well intentioned you are, going green costs money – which means that the availability of grants and other funds can often make the difference to whether you can go ahead with your project.
The good news is that all the talk about energy, climate change and all things environmental has been backed up with a range of grants and funding options from government and other sources – so there’s probably never been a better time to be looking for help.
One scheme definitely worth looking into is the UK’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which is a government grant from the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). Open to applications from individuals as well as public, not-for-profit and commercial organisations, it has been set up to promote the development of low carbon buildings through energy efficiency and micro-generation.
It replaces two previous government grants – the DTI Clear Skies and Solar PV schemes – offering help towards installation costs of a wide range of technologies, including solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, solar water heating, ground and air source heating pumps, and small-scale hydro.
The first phase of the scheme runs until 2010, but later phases will only be open to public and not-for-profit organisations – so don’t put off finding out if this is the right grant for you for too long!
Winning the Lottery
When it comes to community projects, the “Awards for All” is a National Lottery funded grant scheme which might just come up trumps. There are different arrangements for the four countries of the UK, with grants ranging from £300 to £10,000 being offered – amongst other things – for community activities and projects promoting the environment.
The application procedure is fairly straightforward – there’s a comprehensive set of guidance notes to help you – and you’ll get a decision on whether or not your project has been successful within a couple of months.
The Lottery also operates other grants and funds, so even if the Awards for All scheme isn’t quite right for what you’re planning, they may have something else to offer.
Find Out What’s Available
One of the biggest problems with the whole grants and funds issue is finding out what’s available. Working out what your project might be eligible for and how to apply can be a major undertaking, especially for a community-based group with limited experience of the way these things work – and it doesn’t help that grant schemes can often change, making it hard to keep up.
Fortunately, there are ways to get some help when it comes to navigating the green grants maze and one of the best places to start is the Energy Savings Trust. In addition to being able to give up-to-the-minute advice on a range of energy related matters, their website offers an online search for grants and offers, which can very quickly and simply point you in the right direction for funds.
Other sources of good information on possible assistance include your local council, the Environment Agency (or SEPA, if you live in Scotland), and any of the trade bodies or associations which are relevant to your particular project.
Depending on what you’re trying to get funding for, it can sometimes be worth trying the direct approach and ask your energy supplier or water company if they have any grants themselves. Even if they don’t have a formal award scheme, if they like what you’re trying to do, they may willing to help out. Remember, it costs nothing to ask – and sometimes a bit of cheek can win the day!
Hunting around for grants and funding can sometimes seem a daunting task, but it needn’t necessarily be. One of the biggest hurdles is knowing where to start looking – but especially when it comes to community projects, there are plenty of possible sources to try and no shortage of people willing to help you.
Of course, actually getting a grant can’t always be guaranteed – but if you do your homework well beforehand, you’ll certainly give yourself the best possible chance of success.