Case study

DE-Carbonising D2N2

The pursuit of clean and green growth is at the heart of the D2N2 Local Industrial Strategy. The University of Derby has responded to this call by leading a Derby and Derbyshire collaboration to support SMEs to reduce their carbon emissions or produce low carbon products.  

'DE-Carbonise' is our most recent collaboration with Derby City and Derbyshire County Councils. The project only began in late 2019, but we have already carried out work with a number of SMEs, which has led to a reduction in carbon emissions of over 1000 tonnes.

Crassus Grab Hire

Crassus Grab Hire specialise in waste removal and the delivery of aggregates and topsoil. The firm was keen to investigate how it could recycle the waste it collected and through our Invest to Grow scheme initially received funding to purchase equipment to help with this, resulting in the creation of two new jobs. However, Crassus was struggling with exactly how to make further improvements, so the managers approached our DE-Carbonise project team for help.

Through a carbon reduction audit, we identified that the firm could turn its current waste into two reusable products — a topsoil and an aggregate which are non-hazardous, safe to use and which meet the relevant British Standard. We calculated that this had the potential to reduce the company’s CO2 emissions in excess of 14 tonnes each year, at the same time as delivering annual cost savings of over £60,000.

We produced an action plan for Crassus Grab Hire, which outlined six key steps the team needed to take. Over an eight-week pilot project, their team screened and tested 600 tonnes of soil and was able to sell 90% of this. This led to a carbon saving of 0.5 tonnes, reduced their mileage by 1600 and saved them £9,360. Clodagh Howcroft, Director at Crassus Grab Hire, explains what other benefits our support and funding has brought:

“This has allowed us to understand how we can increase productivity and profitability, while reducing our carbon footprint, and it’s also led us to new markets. We started this journey seeing waste as a problem but now we see waste as an opportunity. The DE-Carbonise project was so important to us because it gave us a clear structure and a step-by-step process. The team have been fantastic. They’ve kept just enough pressure on to make sure that we are on target and working on our action plan, but without going over the top.”

Crassus is now continuing to recycle its waste in this way and its next steps are to look at how it can be turned into an aggregate. In terms of on-going collaboration Crassus are currently in the early stages of engaging with researchers in the University’s College of Life and Natural Sciences.

Lindhurst Engineering

Lindhurst Engineering designs, manufactures, installs and maintains a range of solutions for sectors such as utilities, food and drink, transport equipment manufacturing and construction. The company have worked in collaboration with the University over a number of years including knowledge exchange initiatives through the Enscite and Transport Equipment Manufacturing ERDF funded programmes.  As part of their latest engagement the company wanted to decarbonise its business but faced a number of challenges, including inefficient lighting and heating, low-tech manufacturing processes, as well as manual and ad-hoc data monitoring.

A Solution for Lindhurst Engineering

Our DE-Carbonise team came up with a solution: a ‘smart factory’ project which would focus on real-time monitoring of energy and water use, as well as indicators of the safety and comfort of the factory environment — such as ambient temperature, noise levels, humidity and air quality.

This project is ongoing, but so far, energy-saving LED lighting has been installed across the facility as well as a range of sensors and equipment which will collect the data. Devtank, a local electronics company, has provided the open source hardware to make this possible, while our University is providing the software and expertise in project management, data gathering and optimisation.

The project has already highlighted some areas of inefficiency. For example, we identified that the power factor correction equipment that was designed to save the company money, hadn’t been working for a long time. This has now been fixed and is expected to save the firm thousands of pounds as well as reduce its carbon emissions.

The next steps are to focus on improving analysis of the data, making specific low carbon interventions, and then measuring the effects of these.

Carmel UK Ltd 

Carmel (UK) Ltd is one of the UK’s top 50 mechanical and electrical companies. It provides a complete package of scalable managed building services for a wide range of clients in the UK, including major retailers, national developers and commercial chains.

The firm approached our DE-Carbonise team looking for support to reduce carbon emissions from its transport. We carried out research into this and found that during a year, Carmel employees travelled 1,331,617 miles which resulted in an annual carbon footprint of 374 MgCO2e.

Cars and van were by far the largest contributor. We produced a report which included recommendations such as:

These measures had the potential to reduce Carmel’s carbon footprint from transport by up to 95% over a number of years. Our collaboration with Carmel is ongoing and the firm is planning to apply for a grant to help them take forward these recommendations.

For further information or to discuss working in partnership with us, please contact our Business Enquiry Team on +44 (0)800 001 5500 or