LCCN Session: Homes and Energy Efficiency – lessons learnt from projects

January 21st, 2012 by Katharine Mann Leave a reply »

Another workshop on energy efficiency focussed on lessons from projects run by two low carbon community groups: Low Carbon West Oxford and Muswell Hill Sustainability Group

Firstly Low Carbon West Oxford which covers the area from Oxford’s railway station and extends along the very busy Botley Road and includes 1600 households in mainly terraced housing and an industrial estate where the King’s Conference centre is located which hosted the conference.

Low Carbon West Oxford’s aims are to:

  • combat climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050,
  • encourage residents to live more sustainably
  • contribute to a more cohesive and resilient community.

Their largest project is Low Carbon Living which requires the participants’ to commit to a sustained and significant reduction in both their direct and indirect carbon footprint. They recruited participants by distributing leaflets, knocking on doors and offering grants to low income households.

The programme consisted of:

  • Providing support in the form of ‘Carbon Busting’ sessions on topics such as travel, cooking, lighting, heating, waste and consumption as well as information about grants, peer support and £100 grant towards their Carbon busting
  • Setting goals in the form of a 5 year action plan as well as pledges
  • Measuring their carbon footprint using the Quicksilver tool, taking monthly gas and electricity readings and using electricity smart monitors.

Achievements of the project include:

  • By the end of the first year of the programme the participants had achieved a 36% reduction in their carbon emissions – a combined saving of around 140 tonnes of carbon dioxide
  • By the end of the second year some 100 households had participated which is 6% of the total number of households in the area

The lessons learnt from the project have been:

  • Focus on the practical and the positive and making it guilt free
  • Balance detail and principle
  • Work with existing groups of friends and neighbours
  • Provide local and trusted sources of information
  • Give free choice and flexibility

Their main challenges have been:

  • Persuading people who are interested to participate in the project
  • Providing support for those in social housing and privately rented accommodation
  • Developing a less volunteer time intensive project as it took 200 to 300 volunteer hours per group of 30

Muswell Hill Sustainability Group in the London Borough of Haringey, covers an area of 4000 affluent family and retired households who are time poor. Their 2 projects run by volunteers have been 100 Homes and Low Carbon Buying.

The 100 Homes project aimed to recruit 100 households at local events and fairs and ask them to fill in a questionnaire about their homes and any energy efficiency measures already taken. 160 households showed interest, of which 50 participated in the project. A year later the households participants have decreased from 50 to 27.

The project included:

  • Calculating their carbon footprint
  • Training on and carrying out simple energy efficiency measures in their homes that can be done themselves such as draught proofing.

Low Carbon Buying involved going out to tender for a list of suppliers and then offered signed up members of Muswell Hill Sustainability Group discount on solar panels, new boilers and windows from this list of trusted suppliers. The suppliers paid commission to en10ergy, a social enterprise company, for example £100 for a window install.

The following went well:

  • 16% reduction in carbon emissions after the first year based on data for 25 of the original 50 Homers
  • Calculating their carbon footprint was a real motivator for participants
  • Tendering for and providing a trust suppliers list was valuable for the participants
  • The programme was well attended

The project’s challenges have been similar to Low Carbon West Oxford:

  • Persuading people who are interested to participate in the project
  • Focus on an in depth project on a smaller number or a broader programme for more participants
  • Using less volunteer time

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