You have many options for how to structure and deliver net zero projects using community benefit income and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Third parties can help manage community benefits funds for you, but they will charge an adminstration fee for that service. If you want to learn more about the various approaches, contact other communities who are already operational and organisations such as Local Energy Scotland and Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCAAN) who can support you.

Delivery models

Communities delivering net zero projects have found that they can make the biggest impact when income is used to employ staff, as opposed to relying on a volunteer model. Beyond the core staff, consider who else will be needed to best deliver the plans – for example, which activities can be supported by volunteers and where will paid-for external expertise be needed.

Working with a developer

Get to know the developer and how invested they are in ensuring your net zero community benefit funding will be impactful. Some simply provide the funding, while others will support the community through the process. Understand what support is available and how you can access this. You can find more information about working with a developer in Local Energy Scotland’s Community Benefits Toolkit.

Evolving priorities

Have an open mind and be adaptable. The priorities and needs of your community and the wider net zero agenda will change over time, so should the allocation of your community income. Listening to the needs of your community is key and having a dedicated place to store good ideas can be helpful. Some programmes or schemes will not work, and that is okay, but you should look to learn from this to improve future plans. You can find more information about community action planning in Local Energy Scotland’s Community Benefits Toolkit.

Evaluate and improve

Build-in a simple evaluation plan at the start of your project. Think about what you are trying to achieve, and what might indicate the success of this and how you might collect this information. During the project, check-in on these indicators. Is the project going as planned, or is there something you could change to improve it further? Record any learnings as you go and incorporate these into future projects.

Additional funding

Think about how your community benefits can work with existing government funding. The Scottish Government already offers grants and loan funding for net zero projects, for example through Local Energy Scotland, Home Energy Scotland and through Climate Action Hubs. You can create grants that add to existing schemes or choose to fund projects that are not covered through existing funding.

Remember you are not alone

Several communities across Scotland are already using community benefits for net zero projects to help reduce our impact on the climate. Do not be afraid to reach out to others to support you and your community to do the same.