The network’s board is currently comprised of the following directors:

carolineCaroline Bird (chair)

Caroline is a freelance researcher, currently based at the University of Bristol (Cabot Institute and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law) where she has been working on city futures, alternative forms of governance, community energy, and with social enterprises in various sectors responding to climate change. Her research in 2013 helped BEN develop the groundbreaking Bristol Community Strategy for Energy and has fed into the national Community Energy Strategy. At the core is an interest in the broad issues of environmental sustainability and, more specifically, in community action, energy and climate change, and sustainable environments and how interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral approaches help develop practical solutions – particularly in cities.

Caroline has past lives in Civil Engineering and local government environmental policy and brings a breadth of sustainability knowledge and experience and a few useful skills to the board. She was also a director of Transition Montpelier and a member of the Montpelier Energy Group.

JakeJake Barnes

Jake is an activist and academic. He joined the network shortly after its first public meeting in late 2010, first helping coordinate the network and later as a director. In 2013 he coordinated the development and launch of the Bristol Community Strategy for Energy and in 2014, led the incorporation of the network into a CIC. In his research Jake explores how progress towards low carbon energy systems and sustainability transitions more broadly can be achieved. He has worked with local governments, community groups and social enterprises to reflect, learn and pursue transformations to sustainability. He currently holds a research position at the University of Oxford.

Jenny Howard Coles 

Jenny is from Bristol and works as a Senior Development Manager at Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) where she develops new ideas, projects and income streams for the organisation. She has worked in the local and community energy sector for five years and has experience of developing and managing energy projects and services with domestic, commercial and public sector beneficiaries, collaborating with a variety of partners.

Jenny joined CSE following four years working for Plymouth City Council as a Low Carbon Officer and Business Developer for the award-winning community benefit society Plymouth Energy Community (PEC). Her varied role involved project, partnership and organisation development and management.

Jenny is especially interested in projects which link the sustainable energy and fuel poverty agendas with wider issues such as housing, education and economic development. She has an MSc in Architecture, advanced environmental and energy studies from the Centre for Alternative Technology where her research focused on community energy and local planning.

The following new directors were elected to the Board at the AGM – pictures and more details to follow.

Karn Shah

Karn works as a civil engineer and project manager for Jacobs, an engineering consultancy. In this role, he has gained experience in delivering planning applications, business cases and stakeholder engagement for flood risk management and transport projects. Prior to this, he has worked in France on a project developing innovative construction methods for onshore wind turbines, and in Peru developing innovative, low-cost sanitation solutions and businesses in Peru for Water for People. Since moving to Bristol in 2017, Karn has been involved with Bedminster Energy Group, both as a director and a volunteer, learning about the community energy sector and its key role in combating climate change from the ground up.

Mark Leach

Mark has worked in varied roles across public, private and charitable sectors.

Over a decade in local government has included coordinating the 2015 European Green Capital bid, supporting the Bristol 2015 company, managing the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, working on climate change policy, land-use planning policy, and providing BCC support to Bristol Energy Network, other community energy organisations and Bristol’s Community Strategy for Energy.

His background includes training and development, community development, and community and stakeholder engagement and consultation.

Mark is currently organising the Clean Air for Bristol engagement programme for Bristol City Council.

Paul Phare

Paul has been working for the community energy sector in the UK since 2003.  He was involved with the first community owned wind farm in Scotland and won the prestigious Ashden Award for this and other projects.  Paul continued to support the development of charitable community energy projects in Scotland until 2008 when he joined Energy4All.  Since then Paul has delivered five shared ownership co-operatives in Scotland, including the Spirit of Lanarkshire Co-operative, which successfully raised £3m and owns a stake in two large commercial wind farms.  Paul was a founding member of Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op, the largest community owned rooftop solar project in the UK and is a founding member and currently Chair of Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Society, the largest community owned hydro scheme in the UK. Find him on Linkedin.

Rebecca Windemer

Rebecca is a PhD researcher based in the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University. She is currently working on an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project exploring end-of-life challenges for the wind and solar energy sectors. Prior to beginning her PhD Rebecca spent two years working for a planning consultancy where she realised the potential, but lack of direct action, for the planning system to help tackle climate change. Her previous research explored the challenges faced by community energy groups and their strategies for moving forwards following setbacks. Twitter: @RebeccaWindemer or check out her blog.

Robert Smart

I am an environmentalist, SuperHome (Think Bristol Green Open homes!) owner (achieved over 70% carbon reductions through behavioural change and technology combined), researcher, sole-trader with 25 years’ experience of sustainability within a public- service organisation. New to Bristol, I bring experience of how to run a successful, constituted, community environmental organisation over twenty-years and have delivered low carbon innovation, saving over £250,000 per year, with a projected efficiency saving of over £2,000,000 on projects already in the ground and an expected payback on investment of under 3 years. I have trained as a Low Carbon Retrofit Coordinator and have delivered practical refit at scale.

Sam Willitts

Sam Willitts

Sam Willitts has worked in environmental roles across the public sector. He has been the Energy and Sustainability Manager at University Hospitals Bristol since 2010. Along with tackling carbon emissions through both engineering and behaviour change approaches; his efforts are focused on embedding sustainability in activities across the Trust.  Key successes in greening the Trust have been achieved through developing partnerships with organisations across Bristol and beyond. He is particularly interested in community led solutions to sustainability problems. He is a Director of Keynsham Community Energy. He has recently completed a One Planet MBA at Exeter University.

AGM – December 2018

The 2018 Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 10th December at the St Werburgh’s Community Centre. 21 people attended, representing 7 of our member groups. 5 new directors were voted in and the 3 departing Directors, Charlie Eddisford, Helen Powell and Bakery Sanneh, were thanked for their contributions.

The full Report is here.

Board meetings

Board meetings are held regularly to review activities of the CIC and ensure good governance, dates of recent past meetings are below:

6 March 2019

9 January 2019

14 November 2018

9 October 2018

11 September 2018

7 March 2018

23 January 2018


If you have any problems using this form, please click here

Social Media

Connect with us on social media: