LOCAL businesses are being urged to boost their green credentials, become more efficient and save money.

The programme – hosted by North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) and funded by the European Regional Development Fund – has been helping companies across the region Grow Greener for over two years.

The programme has already supported more than 110 companies in the North East area and annual savings have been identified in the region of £1.8 million and 5,400 tonnes of CO2 and many Middlesbrough companies are already involved

Middlesbrough Council’s Economic Development team has backed the free initiative from the outset, and is urging as many Middlesbrough businesses as possible to get involved before it ends in March.

Specialist welding and engineering company QA Weld Tech has been one such company that didn’t want to miss out on the expertise on offer.

The company has recently celebrated £5 million of new orders and has gone through an expansion and recruitment programme.

That expansion created the ideal opportunity to bring in the Grow Greener programme to review processes to help reduce the company’s carbon footprint and keep overhead operating costs in check.

Riverside Park-based multi-modal logistics company AV Dawson also sought to reduce energy consumption and make an impact on its carbon footprint.

With the help of Grow Greener programme co-ordinator Astley Fenwick the company was able to review its operating costs, consider variable speed drives and lighting and explore the options for photovoltaics and wind turbines.

The company has since teamed up with with Duncan Renewables to install photovoltaic panels across all three of its roofs at its main warehouse.

And it’s not just engineering companies that have taken part in the scheme – if you are a North East-based SME within the manufacturing and process industry then you can benefit from the free support.

Grow Greener Programme Manager Astley Fenwick said: “Energy is a significant cost to any small business and it is therefore wise to implement energy efficient measures.

Unfortunately there is scant evidence that this is happening. The Forum for Private Business found that 87% of SMEs reported an increase in energy costs in 2013. Despite this, according to the Business Energy Index, 53% of SMEs in the UK have no methods in place to manage energy.

“The programme is not only about helping SMEs save money but also the promotion of green credentials to current customers and prospective clients.

With recent Government changes we are more and more frequently witnessing clients demanding energy efficient suppliers. It’s all about staying ahead of the game.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “Despite the harsh economic climate of the last few years, we know that businesses can succeed if they have the right support.

“The Tees area has pioneered some highly effective approaches around environmental awareness and sustainability, and Grow Greener has already delivered significant results for some of our leading employers.

“I would urge all local enterprises to find out more about what this important initiative can do to help them look to a prosperous future with confidence.”

For more information about the Grow Greener Programme, contact Astley Fenwick on 01642 442560 or email astley.fenwick@nepic.co.uk