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Making the business case for a carbon reduction project

This guide will help you ensure that your projects for cutting energy costs and reducing carbon emissions get a fair hearing and the best possible chance of implementation.

Competing for funding

Energy or environmental managers, facilities managers and works engineers have always found it hard to compete for funding because historically their projects were in a ‘discretionary’ category. These projects have not been seen as essential to the survival of the business; nor are they usually mandatory from a legal or regulatory perspective.

They also tend to be smaller scale than other projects being dealt with by your board of directors or other decision makers, diminishing their perceived importance. Furthermore, these projects can be technical (or even unique in the board’s experience), which increases their perceived riskiness and makes rejection a comfortable choice.

The advice in our 'Making the business case for a carbon reduction project' guide should enable you to overcome these challenges. It is based in part on interviews with people who hold, or have held, senior executive positions in substantial organisations.

Guide to making the business case

This 31-page guide begins by asking fundamental questions about who makes the decisions and what they are looking for, and then works logically through the steps of gathering data and evidence, building the case (including considerations of finance and risk), drafting the proposal, presenting it, and then maintaining momentum. Explanations of key financial evaluation techniques have been put into an appendix for the benefit of those who are not already familiar with them.

However the guide is not just about how to do a financial appraisal of a capital project and present a proposal to your board. It talks about carbon reduction ‘projects’ in the widest sense: an example might be a change of policy to limit the choice of company cars provided for employees. Second, it views 'making a business case' as a long-term continuous process, and not an isolated event.

Guide contents:

  1. Introduction 
  2. What are decision makers looking for?
  3. Who makes the decisions?
  4. Establish influence and reputation
  5. Building the case 
  6. Drafting the proposal 
  7. Presenting the proposal 
  8. Maintaining momentum

Appendix A: Financial appraisal methods
Appendix B: Action checklist


Publication date: March 2012 (Updated Dec 2013); Publication code CTV067

Download the guide to Making the business case for a carbon reduction project

Further information

Additional publications to support carbon reduction in your organisation:

Support to develop your business case

If you'd like our experts to help you identify the business case for putting sustainability at the heart of your organisation and demonstrate how this delivers shareholder value, contact us, or visit our Business advice page for further details on how we can help you.  

We provide a range of expert services to help businesses, governments and the public sector take action on climate change.  See our services to find out more.

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