Case Study: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Barnsley Council

Since my colleague and I started the course, 8 other team members have enrolled

Martin Beasley
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Diploma in Business Sustainability Graduate

Why did you and your team choose to undertake a sustainability course?

A lot of local businesses were getting in touch with the Enterprising Barnsley team for advice and support relating to sustainability and decarbonisation. My colleague and I decided to participate in the course so we could acquire a better understanding of the ESG challenges and opportunities facing businesses, which would help us signpost our clients to the appropriate areas of support.  

Another element of our work is with the Barnsley Business Innovation Centre. We co-created the Barnsley Net Zero project, which is being partly financed through UK Shared Prosperity Funding. This means we are supporting SMEs by creating plans to help decarbonise their businesses.

The Barnsley Net Zero project commenced 12 months ago, and collectively the team had to be educated on sustainability so we could procure specialist advisors and develop a programme that would be beneficial to local businesses. The project supports businesses on their decarbonisation journeys through the development of sustainability plans. 

This is complemented by one-to-one specialist consultancy support and a peer-to-peer network. If appropriate, the participants can apply for a grant to look further at decarbonisation to begin counting the carbon savings, and we report this back to the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and the UK government.

Why did you choose the Institute of Sustainability Studies?

When we were first looking for sustainability courses at Barnsley Council, we initially identified this quick win that ticked all the required boxes in terms of skills and knowledge, but with much lower cost and time commitments than the alternative options we had explored.

Can you tell us about your learning experience on the course?

We felt the way the course was structured with distance learning and also mixing up theory with practical examples was very useful and engaging. It was a wonderful experience to witness the results and impact of people who have implemented these strategies, and it truly brought the subject matter to life. Each of the topics covered in the course was curated and taught by people who had been there and done it.

What has been the impact of doing the course with the Institute of Sustainability Studies?

The learnings from the course enabled us to innovate and ultimately mould the Barnsley Net Zero Project. We’re actively mirroring areas covered in the course to try and utilise our newfound knowledge of business sustainability. Without having the course under our belts, I don’t feel we would be able to support businesses in Barnsley.

What specific modules stood out for you?

Some standout topics covered in the Diploma that have been particularly helpful for what we are doing include biodiversity, the circular economy, green finance, decarbonisation, and supply chain management.

Since you and Matt graduated, eight other staff from Barnsley Council have enrolled on our Diploma. How did this end up happening?

A primary initiative to improve sustainability within the Barnsley Borough is the Positive Climate Partnership, and a key area of this is Barnsley’s aspirations of decarbonising the council by 2040 and the whole borough by 2045.

The service director for transport and the environment and the sustainability and energy lead are heavily involved with this area, so we recommended the ISS Diploma to them, and then they ended up recommending it to their teams and other colleagues. I think everyone liked the breadth of the subject matter and also the fact that they are finding it fits effectively within their day jobs.

Would you recommend the course to other organisations?

I advocate doing the course, especially for councils and local governments. The course gives a great overview of ESG and has made me feel more comfortable speaking with colleagues and businesses about it. I definitely think local authorities should enrol their teams. In terms of value for money, the Diploma gives you around 40 hours of quality core content with many more additional readings and masterclasses, all delivered by an expert faculty for such a low cost, which is an absolute no-brainer for me.


If you are interested in gaining a comprehensive and practical understanding of key sustainability concepts and learning to implement sustainability best practices to confidently lead sustainability initiatives within your organisation, or advance your career in sustainability, start your learning journey today with the Diploma in Business Sustainability.

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