The aim of the workshop was to discuss the different roles community groups can play in helping householders or local businesses in Bristol access the Green Deal. It identified some of the issues for community groups, for example legal requirements or in terms of adopting certain structures, if they choose to carry out particular roles. It also briefly explored whether alternative avenues to Green Deal, such as a Bristol ESCO or bulk buying schemes, would better suit community groups.
Caroline Bird and Anna King from the University of Bristol ran the workshop with Phillip Morris from CSE helping with answering participant questions. 16 participants took part in the workshop, of whom 4 said that they represented local energy groups.
A short presentation based on the leaflet produced by UoB and CSE on ‘Potential roles for community groups in the Green Deal’ was followed by discussions in which the following were the key points of concern:
- What exactly is the Green Deal and how does it work?
- Details of training to become a GD assessor including the cost (£2000 from scratch – could be prohibitive to community groups getting involved); where to do the training
- What is the potential for community led training? Could community groups work with colleges?
- What is the ECO (Energy Company Obligation)?
- The length of payback involved in the Green Deal
- How to spread the word about the Green Deal to housing estates?
- The need to develop community ownership in order to engage people with the Green Deal strategically so that it’s not just odd houses but whole streets.
WORKSHOP BREAK-OUT GROUP DISCUSSIONS
Workshop participants formed 3 groups to discuss:
1. Possible future roles in the Green Deal
- True impartiality of assessments…
- Householders more trusting of non-sales / hand-holding approach of community groups
- Understand local housing issues
- Publicity through events, shop front presence
- Activity as a precursor to Green Deal
- See properties locally with benefits – show homes
- Co-ordinate approach to engage householders and neighbourhoods,
- Tenant engagement
- Financial rewards for referrals
- Training energy advisors
- Training opportunities for other workers
2. Barriers to Green Deal and community involvement
- Unknow how Green Deal will go
- Finance and voluntary nature of co-ops and community groups
- Need to create an income stream
- Need physical base/ office
- Demographics of Green Deal interest, may not fit with ECO / fuel poverty issues
- People renting
- People without access to meter readings
- Risk averse, not currently a universal scheme
- Might be unattractive to people – do they want debt on their electric meters (esp elderly)
- People don’t care enough, apathy
- Physical hassle and disruption to get measures installed
- People not seeing sufficient benefit in advance
- Insufficient personal contact/ communication
- No funding for publicity
3. What would help groups to be more effective or do more?
- Community groups being more visible or accessible
- More inclusivity
- Target at least one in each street to generate interest
- Employ local organisations/shops – provide trust
- Generate interest through peer groups.
Thank you to everyone who took part. The workshop generated lots of lively debate and provided plenty of ideas for consideration in implementation of the Green Deal!