Carbon Co-op Strategy – Looking back, looking ahead…

by Blog

The last strategy day looked at Carbon Co-op's track record, assessing strengths and weaknesses and identifying areas for improvement. The key conclusion was that Carbon Co-op should remain an 'innovative organisation' and demonstrating what is possible in the field of low carbon technologies and disseminating our knowledge and learning to wider civil society and government.

With the Carbon Co-op AGM and Strategy Day 2016 approaching it seems a good opportunity to look back at the last strategy day which took place in May 2015. In order to involve as many of the membership as possible we ran a 'Carbon Co-op 101' workshop in advance for non-board members, recognising that some of the work we carry out can be highly technical and that in the 2014 strategy session as much time was spent getting people up to speed as strategising!

The day itself took place at 1 St Peter's Square – one of our board members works here and the company were kind enough to donate the space for the day. The session kicked off with a presentation from Dr Victoria Johnson of the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester. Her slide show on energy transitions and civic and community energy put Carbon Co-op's work in a wider '2050' context and underlined the scale of the challenge our society faces in order to meet carbon emission reduction targets.

In this context we discussed where we saw Carbon Co-op as being in 2020 and re-affirmed some of the values we felt underpinned the organisation, namely: being innovative, spreading and disseminating knowledge, being disruptive to existing models, enabling Peer Learning and knowledge dissemination acting as an independent, trusted advisor, working in partnership and demonstrating co-operative principles.

We made a distinction between our three existing key areas of activity: delivering member benefit, wider community engagement and carrying out innovative and pioneering projects. It was felt that all three areas of activity were important to fulfilling Carbon Co-op's mission and that we should avoid focussing on any one area to the detriment of the other two.

With this in mind a decision was made to try and build sufficient funding and resources to hire a membership development worker to invest time in building and delivering member benefits. This led to the employment of Aneaka Kellay as membership officer.

On contracting retrofit works, we thought that the lessons from Community Green Deal/Go Early project should be fully processed and understood before we embarked on anything similar and that despite being highly successful in carbon reduction terms the project had ultimately placed too much risk on to Carbon Co-op. For the time being we agreed to pause any further contracting work.

On Governance, it was felt that the complexity of the projects Carbon Co-op is involved in required more structures to enable transparency and oversight. With this in mind the board approved the instigation of a technical advisory panel and investigation in to 'Policy Governance' (also known as Carver Governance), a form of governance popular in American consumer co-operatives.

The table below shows the kinds of activity we want to deliver within our three areas.





  • Pause
    whole house retrofit contracting for new contracts

  • Develop
    key learnings from Go Early 'Whole House Retrofit' project: ie

    • carry
      out periodic re-assessments

    • technical
      evaluation with University of Salford

    • householder
      and project team debrief

    • Policy
      recommendations to Greater Manchester and Local Authority

  • Further
    development of 'My Home Energy Planner' whole house assessments

  • Develop
    Nobel Grid Smart Grids project

  • Routes
    to Retrofit information and training on how to procure retrofit

  • Share
    learning and conclusions from Go Early project

  • Showcase
    members' retrofit projects

  • Enable
    exchange of Peer Learning

  • Encourage
    members to disseminate learning

  • Member
    involvement in Nobel Grid project

  • Recommend
    contractors and products where possible

  • Offer
    contractor product discounts

  • Develop

  • Offer
    discounted home assessments

  • Socials
    to share learning and recruit members

  • Green
    Open Homes weekends to showcase retrofit homes

  • Briefings
    for social landlords and contractors

  • Share
    reports and learning

  • Free
    assessments via My Home Energy Planner

  • Links
    to Green Building Forum

  • Offer
    home assessments

We want members to be involved in shaping Carbon Co-op's future work and strategy! Book now for Carbon Co-op's next Strategy Day planned for Saturday 9th April 2016: