C-BETA (Community Business Environment Training & Audit) is an independent social enterprise based in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow. C-BETA currently operates as a recognised Scottish Charity and is now becoming established as a Company Limited by Guarantee. C-BETA was formed in November 2000 by a group of eight individuals committed to demonstrating the practical contribution that local communities can make towards sustainable development. It is an enabling organisation, which works to raise environmental awareness within local communities and assist non-profit-making organisations to make a meaningful contribution towards environmental protection. A Project Manager, two full time Environmental Auditors, and a small pool of sessional workers and volunteers currently operate the service. All auditors are trained to ISO 14001 standards and are IRCA registered.
During the last 18 months C-BETA has developed and tested a unique model of environmental management support designed around the needs of organisations operating within the community and social economy.
"The key principles of environmental management are –
- Identify environmental aspects which the organisation can influence
- Define the significance of the impacts
- Systematically manage the reduction of impacts
- Demonstrate the improvement gained
- Review and repeat continually"
(QCS International Ltd)
2. The Rationale for C-BETA's Work
C-BETA's work stems from the belief that the practices we pursue today will have a profound effect on the quality of life for future generations. Work is based on the premise that organisations operating within the community and social economy have often little awareness of the long term environmental impact of their actions, and are often too poorly equipped to implement effective environmental practices. Such environmental practices can greatly promote sustainable development and bring real and immediate cost savings to individual organisations. Such developments, however, require ongoing environmental management support and bring the need for training in environmental and resource management skills.
C-BETA's market opportunity arises from the fact that the community and social economy has long been at the forefront of raising awareness of environmental issues. It has now an increasing responsibility to implement sound environmental practices. Some of the main drivers behind this shift include:
- The not-for-profit sector has become an major employer and consumer of resources, with an increasing impact on our natural environment
- The economic case for sound environmental policies and the efficient use of resources is becoming ever clearer
- Organisations with a social purpose have an inherent responsibility to act in a financially, socially, and environmentally responsible way
- Stakeholders are placing increasing pressure on organisations to clearly demonstrate quality in all aspects of management and operations
3. Ethos, Vision and Objectives
The ethos of C-BETA centres on the real and meaningful contribution that local people, groups, and organisations can make to our environment. The organisation takes very seriously the statement "think global, act local" and believes that the practices we pursue today will have a profound effect on the quality of life for future generations. It believes that by adopting a proactive enabling and facilitating role it will help organisations and thereby communities to introduce practices that will individually and collectively address important issues of sustainable development.
The vision of C-BETA is of strong and vibrant community and social economy where organisations clearly recognise and demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection. Each community being fully informed of environmental issues and each organisation fully equipped to implement and continuously improve their environmental performance.
The aims of C-BETA revolve around enabling its client organisations to:
- Become more energy efficient and make more effective use of their resources
- Introduce waste minimisation procedures and contribute towards recycling
- Keep within legal guidelines in relation to environmental laws and regulations
- Develop, implement, evaluate and improve environmental policies, procedures and practices
- Cascade environmental management practices throughout communities
4. C-BETA's Core Service
C-BETA currently focuses its operations within the Glasgow area, on communities facing greatest disadvantage, and on broadly defined community and social economy organisations. Its service is based on the use of environmental audits, which have been described as:
"A management tool which involves a systematic, issued, periodical and objective evaluation of how organisation and management of environmental equipment or goods are safeguarding the environment. As such it is a kind of enterprise assessment developed internally or through third parties, provided that it is performed by a qualified technical team without vested interest or preconceived ideas".
(QCS International Ltd)
Through C-BETA's environmental audit service each assisted organisation initially receives an appraisal visit, leading on to a full review of environmental policies, procedures and practices. A stage one environmental policy and set of recommendations is then produced, outlining the positive steps that each organisation can take towards improving environmental performance. Each organisation then receives C-BETA certification for its endeavours and the option of six monthly audits to ensure continuous improvement. Ongoing best practice material and advice through the organisations environmental information service will support this process. This iterative process can best be illustrated as follows:
5. Serving New Communities
C-BETA, and its partners, are now convinced that this model of environmental management support is of great national significance, and that such an approach can and should be replicated in other communities throughout the UK. Such a geographical expansion will continue to incorporate a focus on those communities facing greatest economic and social disadvantage.
In order to extend the benefits of its approach C-BETA will carefully focus its activities on a small number of target communities. In each new area the organisation will work with local partners (e.g. community forums, regeneration partnerships, development organisations, environmental agencies etc) to develop a local programme of support. In each community C-BETA will:
- Carefully identify the existing organisational capacity and the needs of local organisations
- Develop a financial package around a tailored programme of environmental support
- Form a steering group of local partners to develop and co-ordinate the programme
- Raise environmental awareness among local groups and organisations
- Recruit a small number of organisations that demonstrate a commitment to improving environmental performance
- Provide a full environmental service to each participating organisation
In delivering such a programme of environmental support C-BETA will develop the capacity of each community to maintain its commitment to sustainable development. In each neighbourhood it will recruit a small number of residents who will undertake training and work experience as Environmental Auditors. Each trainee will then be given the opportunity to receive IRCA registration, working on a voluntary or sessional basis with C-BETA. This approach will be supplemented by training for designated Environmental Officers within each assisted organisation, further embedding knowledge within the community.
6. An Increasing Portfolio of Services
Over the course of the next few years C-BETA also plans to develop a range of complementary services and programmes that support its core environmental auditing service. Broadly these can be categorised as:
- Support services
New support services will include -
- A recycling service for office supplies such as paper, cardboard, toners, and ink cartridges
- A full environmental information service and expanded Environmental Reference Library
C-BETA will also explore the possibility of developing a nationally accepted accreditation system for its model of environmental auditing support.
b. Educational programmes
Over time C-BETA aims to develop and implement a range of environmental education programmes. These will be aimed at raising environmental awareness among young people and developing a culture of environmental responsibility within communities.
c. Training programmes
C-BETA and others have recognised the significant benefits that its model of training, work experience and volunteering can bring for individuals from disadvantaged groups and areas.
C-BETA intends to expand these opportunities in order to provide a bridge towards sustainable employment in the environmental services sector.
7. Financing its Work
C-BETA's funding model is based around a number of elements including:
- A core grant to cover basic salary costs, fixed overheads, and some initial capacity building and R&D work
- Additional grant support to develop a pool of trained Auditors to work on a voluntary or sessional basis
- Contract funding secured through local partnership arrangements in target communities, covering direct costs in each community and contributing a small management fee
In addition, C-BETA is now actively promoting and selling its package of environmental management support to non-profit-making organisations of all sizes. Client organisations not covered under existing grant or contract agreements will be charged a small fee based on each organisation's ability to pay. This form of income generation will make an increasing contribution to C-BETA's core costs and in time bring a small financial surplus.
8. Further information
If you believe that your organisation or community would benefit from the support of C-BETA, please contact C-BETA.