The UK's Committee of Public Accounts has criticised the Carbon Trust's ability to cut emissions as 'pretty small beer'. The committee has listed a number of reasons why the Trust can't be more effective (reluctance of senior executives, EU rules), but, in my opinion, they miss the big one.

The Carbon Trust, along with Envirowise and other similar business support organisations, works on the model of an 'expert' walking into a business, spotting a number of potential improvements, writing them up with some signposting to other help and sending the business the results. This is bound to fail for the following reasons:

1. The 'expert' spends most of the visit trying to understand the operations and has limited time to get under the skin of the business. As a result, savings opportunities tend to be drawn from a generic list.

2. The 'expert' is given no opportunity for trial and error, pilot projects or doing anything particularly innovative.

3. The business has little or no ownership of the solutions and is unlikely to implement them.

This doesn't just go for Government backed schemes, but much traditional consultancy. So what can be done differently?

OK, how about:

1. The 'expert' carries out a baseline assessment of the business's operations.

2. The 'expert' and the client put together an team drawn from the client's staff.

3. The 'expert' briefs the team on the baseline and trains them on what a low carbon business would look like (check out this month's Low Carbon Agenda for a generic model).

4. The team meets over an extended period of time to develop solutions, piloting them and monitoring their implementation.

5. The 'expert' gradually hands over the process to the team so it becomes self sustaining.

Trust me, that would beat the old model hands down. If you want to try it, give me a shout on 0191 265 9850.

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