Case Study – CO2balance in the community: School Kitchen Project

One of the Gold Standard projects our customers have helped to support is in the Msambweni district of Kenya

CO2balance are well known for their carbon reduction projects, in particular the household energy efficient stoves. What’s less well know are the range of additional projects we are involved in within our project communities in Africa.


With support from corporate client Toshiba, co2balance commissioned two school kitchens during 2012.  These kitchens provide an efficient method for cooking that halves the amount of fuel required to support the school feeding program. This has a huge impact on the school in areas where the school feeding program directly impacts the number of children that can be educated. A reliable hot meal from school is often the only substantial food many of these children get during the day. As many students walk considerable distance to school (4-6KM is not unusual) going home for lunch is not an option.

Simple projects that have a lasting effect.

For Muhaka Secondary School in southern Kenya providing a hot meal for the students was a real problem. Their existing facility consisted of a palm coved shelter with an open fire. This method of cooking is really inefficient with fuel and the setup is less than healthy for the people working in the kitchen or the food they produce.



The school is the first provision in the district for secondary education and with numbers set to grow massively over the next couple of years the existing facility was ill equipped to cope. The local community has done what they can to support the school, funding additional teachers on top of the state allocation, but a new kitchen was well out of reach.  With the help of Toshiba, co2balance commissioned the building of the new school kitchen, incorporating three institutional stoves, essentially very large versions of our household project stoves. This purpose built structure has solid walls and floor and secure grills on the windows to keep out pests and vermin,(monkeys are a real problem stealing from the previous kitchen). The stoves have efficient chimneys that draw the smoke outside and there is a good deal of light and fresh air, making the kitchen a healthier place to work.


Next to the kitchen area is a secure store where maize and beans, the mainstay of Kenyan school cooking, can be stored safe and dry, reducing wastage and spoil from damp sacks and poor storage from before. The reduction in fuel required will save school budgets and reduce the need for pupils to collect wood on their way to school. The school has also started a tree planting scheme within their grounds that in the tropical climate of the area, should be ready to support at least some of their requirements for wood fuel in just a few years.


With the new stoves in place the kitchen is set to be able to serve the needs of the school role as it reaches its peak of 900 pupils in the next two years.

This is one example of many community projects CO2balance are involved with. We concentrate our efforts on projects that can assist communities to help themselves out of poverty.

We are always looking for further corporate support to help us achieve our aims of providing more support for our host communities. If you would like to know more about our work or how you can get involved please contact us, we would be very happy to hear from you.



Case Study Long Term Commitment & Making a Positive Contribution

Refreshment Systems are a CarbonZero business.


Refreshment Systems Ltd is based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The business was formed in 1968 and now employs over 100 people supplying and servicing a wide range of vending and catering equipment and associated supplies and services.

The organisation recognized that safeguarding the environment and providing help to less fortunate communities was something that was not only important to them as a business and individuals, but important to their customers too.


Since 2008 Refreshment Systems have been auditing their carbon footprint on an annual basis, instigating reduction strategies and offsetting their residual carbon emissions by supporting the co2balance Gold Standard African Energy Efficient Stove projects based in Kenya.

Commenting on the reactions from customers to the proactive stance Refreshment Systems have taken, Steve Wright, Service Manager states “The feedback we have had has been very positive and supportive, particularly as we are one of the first’ vending companies who have embraced this initiative.”

Creating positive feedback from customers is a primary aim for many businesses that choose to support environmental and social initiatives. However equally important is the reaction from the business employees. There is plenty of evidence to support the assertion that people like to work for a business that “does well, by doing good.”

Sales Director for Refreshment Systems Paul Shaw’s comments would support this, ”our staff are exceptionally pleased to be involved is such a creative program which not only benefits many people but ethically is the ‘right thing’ to do as a company.” For a company to provide funding to a project that supports some of the poorest communities in the world, as well as reducing global carbon emissions and protecting local resources is highly commendable in itself. It’s important for us at co2balance for our customers to really understand the impact their help can have. We are always delighted when a customer takes us up on the opportunity to see firsthand how our projects impact the community.

In February 2012 Steve Wright from Refreshment Systems, joined our client trip to Kenya to visit our stove projects in the field and see where their  funding has made a difference to people lives.  “Visiting Kenya with co2balance was both a very humbling and rewarding trip in equal measure. Seeing firsthand the level of poverty that  the villagers live with on a daily basis was quite an eye-opener to say the least, I certainly was not prepared for that kind of a reality check. The difference Refreshment Systems is making to the lives of these people is just unbelievable. With a relatively small amount of input from ourselves, the impact is massive and that is reflected in the welcome that we received during our visit. The people have absolutely nothing, and yet are so friendly and so grateful for the stoves which we have provided for them. We can see clearly that the stoves are a massive benefit to the health and general well being of the villagers – something we take for granted in our relatively comfortable world. The trip is something that  I will remember for a very long time and take a lot of pleasure and pride in being part of such a fantastic project, long may it continue”.


Carbon offsetting can get a mixed reaction in some quarters. However a properly managed Gold Standard project, delivers far more than a simple carbon reduction. The social, economic and health benefits delivered by the co2balance Gold Standard energy efficient stoves project is a great example of that. The funding provided by organisations such as Refreshment Systems Ltd. makes these inspiring projects possible.




Case Study: co2balance in the community – Economic and Social Enterprise

One of the Gold Standard projects our customers have helped to support is in the Shimba Hills District of Kenya.  

Shimba Hills cover 250km2 and lay approximately 40km south-west of Mombasa. The area was listed as National Forest as long ago as 1903, being one of the few large areas on the south coast that  at the time was still well forested.


The fragile ecosystem of the area is surrounded by poor farming communities whose lifestyles often impact negatively on the ecosystem, especially due to harvesting of trees for firewood. One of the major challenges facing the district is the persistent and increasing incidence of poverty. 32% of adults in this district live below food poverty level, and 26% below absolute poverty.  In addition to carbon savings this project creates opportunities for economic enterprise, if you know where to look.


Time well spent

One of the most powerful benefits resulting from our stove projects is the amount of time saved by women through the use of the new stoves. For most women in rural Kenya, a typical day involves waking up at sunrise and walking to the nearest forested area to collect their firewood for the day. Often, women might have to walk for 2 to 3 hours to do this. Once home, they immediately begin preparing food for their families. On a traditional open fire stove, cooking times for meals can be long. The co2balance improved cook stoves drastically reduce the amount of firewood used when cooking, with a corresponding reduction fuel and in time spent collecting firewood. The new stove design is also highly efficient; as a result women see a reduction in cooking time as well. Some women can now have over an hour a day to themselves to get involved in other activities that can be of benefit to them. We travelled to Rukanga a remote village in the region to meet with some women who are maximizing the time saved with the new stove, and using this new found time that they have, to get involved in income generating activities that benefit their entire families.


We were welcomed into Rukanga by Florence Awuda and Mercy Mghambi Mwazighe. These women are both recipients of the improved cook stove. We spoke to Mercy and Florence about how they are spending the time they have saved as a result of the CarbonZero stove. Mercy: “I am a member of the Rukanga Basket Weavers Group. I work with Florence and many women to weave beautiful baskets from Sisal. These baskets we can sell and make money. Now we have more time, we can make more baskets. If we make more baskets we can make more money not only for us but also for our family” Florence: “Yes, Mercy is correct. You know I was spending a lot of time collecting firewood so I could only work on my baskets at night after I had prepared food and looked after the chores and family. Now I have time to even work on my baskets at the day time because I am not collecting, collecting all the time. And also to add to this it is very good because I have had time to learn new basket weaving techniques also. Now I can also make bottle holders and table cloths. I have more time to learn. This is good too” Mercy: “It is a great group our Rukanga Basket Weavers and now we have time to participate properly. Its very nice that we can have all our chores and food ready on time but also have time to do something we like to do and also make some money for our family”


From these interviews it is clear that the women we work with are all motivated and determined individuals who want to cultivate change within their own lives. By simply giving them time to do so, and freeing them from the responsibility of firewood collection daily, they are able to take the initiative and get involved in opportunities to improve their standard of living, with both social and economic payback.

Case Study co2balance in the community. Equality at Home

One of the Gold Standard projects our customers have helped to support is in Kasigau in Taita-taveta District of the Coast Province, Kenya. 


A Gold Standard, quality carbon reduction program, has to deliver significant social and welfare benefits to the community. Our time in the communities has revealed new and surprising additional social change. 

As is the case in many parts of East Africa, life in rural Kenya has very specific gender roles and traditions. The kitchen is the principal place for the African woman alone. The kids occasionally come in, either to help with a few kitchen cooking chores or to get a share of their meals. The male partners completely avoid the place and take their meals away from the kitchen. However the introduction of the new clean stove technology form co2balance is starting to change these long held positions.


Prior to the new stove introduction the kitchen was always filled with wood smoke and ash. When preparing meals with the traditional three stone fires, the clothes of the user always get smoky and spotted with ash. This environment could not be tolerated by the African men who are, according to the traditional and cultural perspective, very much the head of family.

The situation is explained in his own words by Mr Mzee Bedford Muinde, a resident in the Kasigau project area. “I could not imagine helping my wife with the kitchen cooking chores because my clothes could become smoky and dirty. When I attend the wazee’s evening baraza’s (old men’s evening discussion forums) they could mock me saying that my wife had taken my role as the head of the family because of my smoky and dirty clothes. The smoky and ashy clothes are normally associated with women because of their kitchen chores which involve cooking with the smoky traditional jiko. I completely avoided the kitchen to save myself from this embarrassment”.


After installation of CarbonZero stoves the situation has dramatically changed. There has been an increase in the involvement of male family members in kitchen cooking chores in a near smokeless kitchen as Mrs. Muinde’s explains.

“Since I benefited from the CarbonZero stove donation, my work has become easier. My husband has started lending me a hand in the kitchen. He no longer fears that his clothes will become smoky and dirty since the CarbonZero stove is far much less smoky as compared to the traditional jiko. Now my husband, when not busy with other family chores, can stay in the kitchen and help me. He can help me with cooking and still in the evening attend wazee’s baraza with great ease. When I am preparing chapatis, I roll the dough of which I am a champion while my husband prepares (cooks) them on the pan of which he is proving to be a great expert. With two people chapati cooking is now easy. Oh! Life will never be the same again, thanks to the CarbonZero stoves”.


Based on this encounter, not only are co2balance providing beneficiaries with energy efficient and clean cooking stoves but also impacting positively in their social lives. Involvement of the male partners in routine kitchen cooking chores reduces the workload for the women, giving them time to rest and also engage themselves in developmental issues that affect the wider community. Family harmony and unity is enhanced as partners spend more time as a couple and with the children as a family. What used to be a social unit in theory is now a social unit in practice.

Case Study – The Day Sky Turned Green

BSkyB, a long standing client of co2balance, have made a bold statement transforming their professional cycling team to highlight their environmental initiatives.

Many co2balance customers choose to work with us as part of their overall environmental strategy. Media giant BSkyB have been a client for a number of years choosing co2balance to calculate the green house gas emissions related to many events and business processes.  Many of these are low key events and as such are part of what BSkyB do to support their commitment to the environment. This time it’s right out in the open.

Professional Cycling’s Toughest Challenge

This year Team Sky, the BSkyB professional cycling team, will be turning green at this year’s Tour de France to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest. In addition to raising the profile of BSkyB’s rainforest program the total carbon footprint of the team participation will be measured and offset by UK based co2balance making team sky the first CarbonZero team in the tour.

Team Sky’s kit, bikes, equipment and vehicles will change from blue to green for all 21 stages of the race to help raise awareness and support for Sky Rainforest Rescue, a three year partnership between Sky and WWF to help save a billion trees in the state of Acre, northwest Brazil.

Dave Brailsford, Team Sky Principal, said: “As a team we saw the opportunity to change our bikes and kit to green as the perfect way to raise awareness of Sky Rainforest Rescue amongst the Tour de France’s millions of world wide fans.

The nine Team Sky riders competing in the race – Edvald Boasson Hagen, Juan Antonio Flecha, Simon Gerrans, Christian Knees, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Rigoberto Uran, Bradley Wiggins and Xabier Zandio – will ride specifically created green Pinarello bikes. Their entire kit will change from blue to green including jerseys, sunglasses, helmets, water bottles, saddles and they will be supported by branded Jaguar vehicles and even a new look team bus.

Team Sky is working with CO2Balance to invest in projects that will save equivalent amounts of carbon to those created by the team’s participation in this year’s Tour de France. In addition, cO2Balance are helping Team Sky to bench mark total emissions for the season with an aim to ensuring year on year decreases in team emissions.

The 2011 Tour de France will begin on 2 July at the Passage du Gois and will finish on the Champs Elysees on 24 July. You can follow Team Sky every step of the way at

Case Study co2balance in the community – In their own words.

One of the Gold Standard projects our customers have helped to support is in the Kisumu District of Kenya.

Delivering an efficient carbon reduction project is just the start of the process. Education in the community is a key part of the co2balance strategy for success


Living and working within the communities our education officers help to coach the householders to get the very best out of their new efficient stoves. co2balance education liaison officer, Wycliffe Churchill Odumo talks to some of the  residents of Eastern  Kisumu, a busy  project area in the West of Kenya, about their experiences with the new stove. In their own words they explain the impact this project has had on their lives.




Quotes from: Lillian Akoth Opiyo, Philgona Akinyi, Agnes Akinyi  and Alice Awino Otieno.  Residents of the project area in Kisumu  West.

Lillian: “I’m a mother of five school-going children of which four are day scholars in nearby primary schools. One is in a boarding secondary school. I stay with two other female relatives and everyone in this household has learned to operate and cook on the good stove because it is effortless to light, smoke free and saves fuel. Before the project began in this area, I had sleepless nights particularly during rainy seasons thinking hard on where to get good cooking wood fuel for in this community it is highly priced and hard to come by. There are no free or communal fuel collection points and this means that collecting even a dry twig along the neighbors’ fence can create a serious conflict”.

Alice: “There isn’t just enough fuel out there. I have to say that the stove has helped us to utilize every little available fuel. I value it so much because it meets my cooking needs and is suitable for use even with fuel from the shamba(farm). We were trained on the cooking process which enabled us to use sources of fuel such as dry maize stalks and maize cobs from our farms. Nowadays, whenever we harvest, we dry and keep them back. The stove works well with them. I am happy to say that never before had I seen a project done in a free and fair manner like this, we accept it and are proud to have been selected as beneficiaries. We wish that everyone benefits”.

Lillian: “Previously, with the three stone stove, I got reluctant to cook some meals because the quantity of fuel I had was scanty. Now I’m not worried because with just three to four pieces of medium sized fire wood, I am sure of cooking entire meal”.

Philgona: “This stove is decent and pleasant to cook on and members of this household have learned how to operate it. Imagine (cites her siblings name) Agnes and Catherine too know how to cook on it as I do”.

Catherine: “I’m not worried of bathing with cold water today. Neither a
m I worried of drinking non-boiled water. I’m the one who boils drinking water for this home.”

Alice: “I also don’t want to waste fuel so I follow the cooking manual that I was given. It has been handy in organizing my cooking sessions so that I get optimum value of time I spent searching fuel and is indispensable”.

Lillian: “The success of CZ stove in this household began with the c
hallenge we were facing on fuel. Once I received it, I realized that it is decent, efficient and fuel effective. It meets my expectations in the kitchen in terms of cooking. No more haphazard use of fuel. I also experience less chest problems such coughing and eye irritations”.









CO2balance in the community – The Child Carer

There is an old Swahili saying, “Jikoni ni sehemu ya mwanamke” meaning “the kitchen is the place of the woman”.  

The more time we spend on the ground visiting the villages, the clearer it becomes.   In every home we meet incredible people who are caring for and cooking for large families. These people in particular women have spoken about the positive impacts our stoves have had on their lives, and even on the lives of their young girls who would otherwise be out in the field collecting firewood.



Jumma’s Story, Time to be a kid!

Recently however while working in Maungu Village, we stumbled across a household that is a little bit different from most of the houses we have visited in the past.  This household and kitchen is cared for by Jumma Hussein, an 18 year old boy. Jumma is a real inspiration, and we would like to share his story with you.

Jumma lives in a 2 bedroom home, with his 5 siblings and his ageing grandmother who is unable to look after the homestead. As the first born, when his parents moved to Voi (the nearest town) to seek employment they left him in charge of the home.  Jumma has been caring on his own for his family since he was sixteen.



“My brothers and sisters are smaller so they cannot do everything but they can help me. When they are at school, I am the one who collects the kuni (firewood) from the forest outside. I bring the kuni home and I prepare the meals for the family. I prepare 2 meals a day and tea. When we did not have the new stove I would collect everyday. Now it is good because I am only collecting 3 times a week. This is good for me because it means I have saved some time also. So now I can play football and not worry because I can still make sure the food is ready for my family. I am still a little bit young and I am still wanting to sit outside with my friends but with the old stove, it was not possible because I would be collecting kuni and cooking all day. And also sweating because of all the smoke and heat. My friends they told me they would forget what I look like because they do not see me because I was always cooking. Now it is good. I can cook, and I can clean and I can also have time for my friends. Very Very good co2balance”

Jumma is only 18 and has been burdened with the responsibility of looking after his entire family. Often, social conditions can strip the youth in Africa of their childhood and force them into taking on certain responsibilities much sooner in life. Jumma never once complained that he had to do this. But, watching him cook his grandmother’s porridge and then go and sit with his friends under a tree, laughing and joking like a regular teenager brought smiles to our faces. It was another example of how the impacts of our projects go beyond just carbon saving. Today we helped a kid just be a kid.



Case Study Carbon Zero Printing From Toshiba

Global leader in technology innovation Toshiba TEC are working with co2balance to provide an innovative solution to a difficult business problem
36To many business customers looking to reduce their carbon footprint, purchasing a new print solution might not be an obvious choice. Toshiba TEC have confronted this issue head on with an innovative, marketing led offset initiative that sets them apart from their competitors and shows real leadership in a challenging market.

As a corporate giant Toshiba is well aware of its environmental and Corporate Social Reponsibilities. They have made significant breakthroughs in production techniques and innovation and have committed to long term dramatic reductions to their environmental impacts across the globe.  This is an extension of an already active program of impact reduction and CSR activity.


Making the Essential


Ask anyone about environment savings around the office and the conversation very swiftly comes round to printing and photocopying as a candidate for reform.  The chief issue is people still like to work with paper.  Independent research carried out by You Gov, showed that most people would print out an important email or electronic document to read, rather than review it on screen.

Toshiba TEC produces a range of MFD’s (Multifunctional Printing Devices) and software for every office environment. Over recent years these products have become increasing sophisticated incorporating the fax, printer, copier and scanner into a single energy efficient device. Correct use of account codes and software can reduce the number of wasted pages but there is still and inherent requirement to print.

37Toshiba  TEC working with co2balance have established an exact carbon footprint for each page produced on their devices. They have taken the bold step to offset the carbon foot print of the hardware and the first one million pages or five years life on every product they sell. This gives them a unique selling proposition in a very crowded market and sets them apart as a manufacturer that does more than offer good advice.

The carbon zero MFP then becomes a major environmental benefit to any business that invests in the products. As the offset (from co2balance African energy efficient stove projects) is provided to cover the production of print including all the energy, paper, toner and service.  Their customers are able to add their carbon zero printing status to their own environmental credentials.



The final word belongs to Jeremy Spencer Marketing Manager at Toshiba TEC UK;

“Toshiba has long been known for its innovations in technology, from Japans first light bulb to the world’s smallest hard disk drives. This program extends that spirit of innovation confirming the Toshiba position as a leader in genuine actions for a more sustainable future. “

For more information see