Observatory of Green Businesses

True North Sustainability

Consultancy and Training (Sustainability, Carbon Management and Environmental Management).

I am a Director, Consultant and Trainer (supported by a team of Associated).

About me:

Anna-Lisa Mills CEnv, MIEMA, MSc, BSc (Hons), PGCE (PCET)

Anna-Lisa has over 20 years’ experience in environmental management, carbon accounting and reporting, sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. She has worked in both consultancy and in-house roles, most recently as the Group Sustainability Manager for a large multi-national organisation.  Anna-Lisa is an Associate Lecturer at the University and an approved trainer for IEMA, NEBOSH BSI, NQA, and IRCA as well as Al Gore’s Climate Reality programme.

Consultancy overview:

We have experience of delivering global sustainability strategies and leading sustainability projects, including calculating carbon footprints, for organisations with operations around the world. Our focus is action on climate change and helping organisations to minimise their contribution to this issue. We also provide advice, support and training in all areas of sustainability strategy and environmental management. We can act as your externally appointed sustainability experts and can work with and support you to meet your legal requirements, develop a sustainability strategy, exceed the expectations of your stakeholders and improve your brand image.

One of our key services is ensuring that businesses meet their mandatory carbon reporting obligations as required by the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Director’s Reports) Regulations 2013 and the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) Framework. We also support organisations of any size or sector to voluntarily calculate report and reduce carbon emissions as well as develop and implement management systems (e.g. ISO 14001).

Training overview:

Our courses are designed to be relevant to individuals working at different levels and across a range of sectors.  They include basic introduction courses, bespoke courses to meet specific client requirements and advanced courses for individuals with environmental or sustainability responsibilities.

Courses run at a range of venues across the UK or as in-house courses on a client’s site.  The content can be adjusted to suit specific needs.

We offer a range of accredited and non-accredited courses in environmental, energy and carbon management as well as sustainability and CSR. Some courses are approved by IEMA, NEBOSH, BSI, NQA, and IRCA. 

Size of business

I am a freelance Consultant and Trainer. I have chosen not to have any employees and prefer to draw upon a small team of trusted and well qualified associates as and when required for specific projects. 

Key clients include: Muckle LLP, Gentoo, Northumbria University, Bettys and Talyors of Harrogate, WGM Engineering, Sunderland City Council, Starkold, Sirus, Wood Group, IEMA, Green Connect NI and the NHS.  Contracted to deliver training on behalf of: BSI, NQA, Northumbria University, Pivotal Scotland.


There didn’t seem to be much help available when setting up my business. However, I was successful in obtaining some mentoring and funding from NEA through PNE to establish my business plan (Contact:  www.pne_enterprise.org) and a small amount of funding from the Federation of Women in Enterprise (FWE).

Opportunities and plans for the future

I have always remained focused on my long-term goal, which is to specialise in carbon reporting, management, reduction and training.  A recent announcement that new legislation will require all large businesses in the UK to report their carbon emissions is just the type of key driver I need to increase demand for my services. Therefore, I plan to relaunch my on-line carbon calculator tool and to develop an e-learning version of my one-day classroom course in carbon footprinting and reporting.

Pitfalls and challenges

There have been many challenges. Mainly related to lack of time and lack of money, exacerbated by the realisation that I needed to be prepared to travel more than I would have liked. 

I found very little guidance and even less financial support options available. I also found that I couldn’t just focus on the niche area of most interest to me (climate change and carbon footprinting) as this alone did not generate enough work initially. I had to broaden my range of services and offer a wider range of consultancy and training options.

Things I have learnt include that patience and tenacity are important, as well as networking and building relationships.  Some key contacts have helped me immensely. Most opportunities take longer than you might expect to turn into a paid invoice. For instance, you might have an initial meeting with a contact that could take 1 year to evolve into a paid contract.