Zero Carbon Guildford

“We aim to build a strong resilient community that can cope with the challenges of a rapidly changing planet” – ZERO Carbon Guildford.

On  21st November 2021, Zero Carbon Guildford was opened in the centre of Guildford, a university town of circa 77,000 people located in the South East of England. It is a community enterprise that grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic when it became apparent that:-

  1. By working in silos on a variety of local problems, individuals, organisations and groups lose the inspiration and power derived from community building
  2. Bringing people together and sharing experiences, knowledge and skills can be extremely powerful and can give local people ownership and influence over the sustainability issues facing them and their communities.

So, in order to get the wider community involved, a physical and visible presence in the town centre was established, using member donations, grants and crowd funding. Dubbed a “climate emergency centre”, it brings together local social and environmental groups to provide a more co-ordinated approach to the environmental and social challenges the community is facing. Apart from promoting the activities of local businesses, organisations and projects that are contributing to the 2030 target of carbon neutrality, the centre educates the community about the issues of climate breakdown, ecological destruction, poverty, racial, gender and class inequality and how such issues can be ameliorated. As the group organiser, Ben McCallum, says the problems we are facing often feel “so huge and so difficult that most of us still have not woken up to the true implications of what it means for our future…”. He argues that getting involved in practical ways can not only help us face the challenge head on but help overcome the “overwhelming emotions of anxiety, grief, depression” that the climate crisis often generates, particularly amongst the most vulnerable in society. Hence, it has three objectives, namely:-

1. Educating the community about climate change and the environment and encouraging engagement

2. Providing practical solutions to help residents and businesses cut waste and emissions

3. Providing mental health and wellbeing support to empower individuals to take action.

Accordingly Zero Carbon Guildford hosts a wide range of events, exhibitions, talks and workshops, bringing together the energy and ideas of those enthusiastic about addressing the sustainability challenge. It demonstrates how a community can work together to bring about change. To date,  some 11 projects have been launched. These range from tackling Air Pollution to the provision of a Community Fridge (to reduce food waste), Vertical Farming (to reduce the land required for food production) and a ZERO Waste Shop (refill shopping to reduce the use of plastics). In addition, they run such events as How to save energy and money on energy bills, and how to launch and grow a sustainable business, or become a net-zero business, etc.

ZERO Waste Shop

While the initiative is currently classed as a charity, there are opportunities for it to develop into a commercial enterprise generating funding from its Vegan Café, its Zero Waste shop, and the various events and activities it offers. Its aim is to help the entire community but it also aims to help businesses, particularly SMEs, lower their carbon emissions since these have been found to contribute between 20 and 30 per cent of the region’s emissions. In August 2022, it also established a Sustainable Business Network in partnership with the University of a Surrey whose Living Lab undertook the research on which the network is based.

ZERO Carbon Guildford

Though presently a charity ZERO Carbon Guildford is a community enterprise that addresses SDG 13 (Climate Action) but it is also addressing SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) as well as contributing to goals 3 (Good Health and Well-being),  4 (Quality Education) and 17 (Partnerships to achieve the Goals). It demonstrates the sort of inclusive community enterprise where people and organisations are working together, in harmony,  towards the same aim of creating a healthier planet and society for everyone“a truly revolutionary approach to how a community can work together for the sake of its future, and its younger generations”.

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  1. Great initiative and with University of Surrey involvement, the different aspects of activity could monitored, measured and impact assessed. Early days for the new organisation and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over the next few years.


    1. I would like to see something similar for mid Wales Bev linked to us. Any suggestions?

      Professor David A. Kirby Holder of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

      Honorary Professor of Practice, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

      Honorary Professor Almaty Management University Kazakhstan

      Former Vice President (Enterprise and Community Service) The British University in Egypt.

      Sent from my iPad



      1. Morning Prof David – the most successful community initiative in West Wales is in Cardigan. Check out http://www.4CG cardigan. When Tesco came into town some years ago, the High Street died but with the energy of one Clive Davies (Antur CymruEnterprise/Telemat) who had ideas about re-energising the area and set up this community interest company. Starting with selling shares to local people, raised funds to buy a derelict piece of land for parking giving an income, moved on to purchase the Old Police Station etc. One of the first wi-fi towns in Wales too. I could go on….. but a real success story Clive has been local mayor a couple of times and is now advising on the Internet of Things (IoT) and town wi-fi around Wales – still attached to Antur. The other is Lampeter who had Transition Town status many years ago and although they have done lots of interesting things, I don’t think the carbon-neutral vision was realised. I could be wrong. If I find the original prospectus, will forward.


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