Let's do net zero community buildings guidance

Please note: This funding call is now closed.


What CARES support is available? 

CARES will provide a range of support to transition community buildings towards net zero through the following.

  1. Practical advice, support, and information from Local Energy Scotland, from application stage through to project completion. 
  1. Funding to cover the whole cost of the eligible measures if required through:
    1. CARES grant (variable intervention levels please, see below).
    2. CARES 0% interest loan (to compliment the CARES grant, bringing the total up to 100% where other match funding is not available). 
  1. Help to appoint a contractor to complete the work. 
  1. Support from your local development officer.

Application process

  • Step 1 – Expression of interest. Complete Section 1, Expression of interest, of the CARES application form as soon as possible and email it to us. Section 1 is an expression of interest form that allows us to track interest and provide support and guidance.

  • Step 2 – Get an energy audit. Get a Zero Waste Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Business Support service energy audit. This is a free Scottish Government-funded service and can help you identify the best low carbon measures to undertake. Local Energy Scotland can assist you with this, if required. 

  • Step 3 – Complete your application. Complete your CARES application form. If you are unsure of your eligibility, complete Sections 1 and 2 and email us, and we will review your eligibility. You can use the example application form for examples and guidance to help you complete your application. This will be particularly helpful for Section 3 of the application form. Please note: you can start, discuss, and submit your application form to us before you have an energy audit report from Zero Waste Scotland. We cant assess your application until we get a fully completed application form (sections 1, 2 and 3) so we’d encourage you to complete this as soon as possible. 
  • Step 4 - Get application support. Get support from a local development officer. The team at Local Energy Scotland are here to help. You can call us on 0808 808 2288 or speak to your local development officer directly to discuss your application and what might be best to support your net zero ambitions. 

  • Step 5 – Get mobilisation support. Getting ready to install. Your local development officer can discuss your project with you and will let you know about the next steps you need to take. We can support projects to start to mobilise, for example through applying for a grid connection, applying for a building warrant or support the process of selecting contractors for your project.

  • Step 6 – Application assessment. Local Energy Scotland will assess your application. We will review applications on receipt, and decisions and awards can be made on a rolling basis. Some applications require additional CARES panel approval that could add to the timeline.

  • Step 7 – Application outcome. Getting CARES approval. Your applications will be approved, rejected or further information requested. Where approved, this is likely to be in principle with grant and loan documents prepared over the following two weeks. 

  • Step 8 - Quotations for works. Appointing contractors. Where the proposed technology is covered by the Microgeneration Certification scheme (MCS), accredited installers must be used. Local Energy Scotland can support you to appoint contractors which is best started early in the process as they will support you with any consents and permissions required.

  • Step 9 – Getting agreements signed. Grant and loan documents are issued for signing. Your grant offer letter and, if applicable, loan agreement will be issued for review and signing. Once you have checked and are happy with these agreements, they can be signed and witnessed electronically via Adobe sign by an authorised signatory. Local Energy Scotland will administer this. 

  • Step 10 – Project delivery. Supporting you during project delivery. Gain consents and install renewable and energy efficiency measure in your community building. The team at Local Energy Scotland can support you to decarbonise your building and move closer to net zero. You can claim funding either in arrears or if required on the production of an invoice, helping you with cashflow. You will be required to submit monthly reports on progress.


Key criteria 

You must be able to demonstrate in your application that you meet all of the following criteria. If you are unable to do this, we can still work with you to resolve any issues and help you apply to a future CARES funding round. 

1. CARES priorities

CARES supports communities to engage, participate and benefit in the energy transition to net zero. CARES supports projects that:

  1. accelerate the uptake of community and locally owned renewable energy, to meet Scotland’s 2030 2GW ambition
  2. support community involvement in local energy systems that lead to new installations of locally owned renewable energy generation
  3. support shared ownership projects (where a community group invests in a commercial renewable energy project)
  4. assist communities to maximise the impact from community benefit funds through community consultation, action planning and good governance.

Local ownership and/or community involvement must be at the heart of the projects developed through CARES.

Energy efficiency must be part of any proposal and must consider all aspects of energy in the given situation.

2. Local energy principles

CARES support is guided by the 10 key principles in the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Policy Statement. Your project should align with at least one of these principles. These are listed on our website.

3. Eligible applicant 

A wide variety of community organisational structures are eligible for CARES support. Applicants must be constituted non-profit distributing community organisations, including organisations with charitable status, that are established and operating across a geographically defined community (‘local community organisations’) or faith groups.

Some common community organisation structures include:

  • Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIO)
  • Private Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG)
  • Community Benefit Societies (BenCom)
  • Community Interest Companies (CIC).

There must be a minimum of three unconnected persons on the organisations’ management committee or Board that are local to the region served by the community building. By unconnected we mean not related by blood; married to each other; in a relationship with each other or living together at the same address.

Community organisations will be incorporated, but unincorporated organisations can be considered.

The community organisations’ areas of benefit should be in Scotland.

All community organisations will be assessed for eligibility by Local Energy Scotland.

4. Eligible buildings

The funding is available to decarbonise self-managed local community buildings. Eligible community buildings include, but are not limited to:

  • village halls
  • community centres
  • community hubs
  • sports facilities
  • faith buildings.

The building must be owned or leased by the applicant and must be used by the local community or a charitable organisation. If the applicant is a tenant, a valid and viable lease must be in place for a further nine years and/or the applicant has the option to extend the lease if necessary.

Applicant must either have rights, or gain permission for the rights, to develop projects on it. Permission from the building owners must be in place and approved by Local Energy Scotland prior to any capital grant commitments.

You must be able to demonstrate how the building is used by the community. We review your constituting documents and ensure that these have a provision for anyone in the community to use the space (or don’t explicitly exclude anyone). The application form also asks you to provide some examples of how the building is used by the wider community.

Applications for multiple buildings will be considered. Applications should be for no more than six buildings per applicant and these should grouped in a local authority or regional area. Please speak to your local development officer for guidance on filling in the milestones and activities section correctly for a project with multiple buildings.

5. Eligible measures

Projects must include at least one renewable generation technology.

Typical examples suited to community buildings can include:

  • renewable heating, for example an air source heat pump
  • solar photovoltatic (PV) array (generating electricity)
  • solar thermal array (providing hot water).

To support one or more of the above, the following measures can also be included:

  • energy storage including:
    • electrical energy storage (batteries)
    • thermal energy storage (water storage, heat batteries)
  • heat distribution systems including:
    • radiators
    • pipework
    • controls.

Other measures that are able to be easily installed and would support the installation of renewable technologies are:

  • loft insulation
  • cavity wall insulation
  • under floor insulation
  • draught proofing.
  • secondary glazing
  • LED lighting and controls.

Please note we are unable to fund costs already incurred prior to the award of funding.

You must be able to show a clear rationale for the choice and scale of technology, for example through Energy Efficiency Business Support audit, feasibility study or options appraisal, or an assessment from Local Energy Scotland. Energy efficiency measures are included to support the installation of renewables and are not eligible for funding on their own.

6. Timescale

All work relating to this CARES funding round must be completed and funding claimed for before the end of March 2022.

Your project plan can include measures that will be completed after March 2022, but these must not be included in your funding request for this (2021/2022) financial year.

Your local development officer can help you to assess and plan what is likely to be completed before the end of March 2022 deadline. They can also support you in planning for a future CARES funding call for measures that will take longer.

7. Project development costs (Application form Milestone 1)

CARES funding is available to cover both the development and installation of the project.

Project development funding can include:

  • permissions, consents, design and contractor appointment.
  • project management services (if required).

Development costs will be available even where capital costs are estimated. This is because development can influence and shape installation details and plans.

Should the project encounter obstacles that are not within the applicant’s control and which mean that the project cannot progress to capital installation, approved valid costs to that point can still be claimed.

8. Capital or installation costs (Application form milestones 2 and 3)

Installation costs or capital funding can include:

  • the costs relating to the improvements planned, eg the costs to purchase and install eligible measures noted above
  • project management services, if required
  • a quality assurance (pre or post project completion) check at system planning stage and/or on installation, if appropriate.

9. What portion of the costs the CARES grant will cover

The CARES grant can cover up to:

  • 100% of project development costs
  • 75% for renewable heat generation (eg heat pumps)
  • 60% for renewable electricity technology equipment and energy storage (eg solar PV and battery storage)
  • 30% for supporting energy efficiency measures (eg loft insulation).

Remaining project costs up to 100% can be provided as a 0% CARES loan, if required.

Your funding request should be a minimum of £5,000.

When installed, the renewable energy and energy efficiency measures will reduce the building’s energy running costs and most organisations find the match funding required through a loan, reserves, fund raising or other non-Scottish Government grants. Energy costs savings usually more than cover the costs of any loan repayment.

10. Accredited installers

The proposed renewable energy technology choice and installer must be covered by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This helps to ensure your system is installed by a qualified professional.

11. Energy efficiency 

The applicant will have addressed, or will have a plan to address, energy efficiency for their building. You may apply to CARES to fund supporting energy efficiency measures.

12. Development 

The pre-installation project work must be achievable within the timescale. Your local development officer can help to explain what will be required.

13. Contractor selection 

You must seek, or have sought, at least three quotes, and/or will go through an equally fair procurement process that is reviewed by Local Energy Scotland.

14. Capital installations

The planned installation work must be achievable within the timescale. Your local development officer can help to explain what will be required.

15. Subsidy control

Subsidy control replaces state aid, which was applicable to the provision of subsidies when we were part of the European Union.

If there are no businesses operating from the community building, or any businesses that do operate from the building are local in nature and are not involved in trading or exporting goods to another country then it is likely that the CARES funding for your project will not be considered a subsidy.

Please review the subsidy control guidelines on our website and speak to your local development officer if you need further guidance on subsidy control.


Resources to help you deliver your project

These are some of the resources available to help you deliver your project.


If you would like a pdf version of this guidance please contact info@localenergy.scot