Engaging residents with energy efficiency in partnership with a local group
As part of a national programme of community outreach pilots being led by Groundwork UK and funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, CSE was awarded funding in December 2012 to test how outreach within a community could lead to greater interest and uptake of energy efficiency measures.
We focussed our efforts on the BS3 (Bedminster) area of Bristol, and worked with the local community energy group, Bedminster Energy Group (BEG).
We tested a number of different approaches to see how BEG’s activity could lead to greater interest in energy efficiency within greater Bedminster – in particular, interest in and takeup of the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade, an energy efficiency retrofitting scheme that CSE was running during this period. Greater Brislington, an area with similar housing profiles but no existing community energy group, was used as a comparison for the number of enquiries to CSE’s energy advice line and the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade.
Bedminster Energy Group ran a series of events in the community including a presence at the local Sunday farmers’ markets, a film night showing ‘Transition 2.0’, a stand at the local City Farm, and an evening for potential new members to meet Bedminster Energy Group and chat about their activity in Bedminster – resulting in a doubling of members within the community group!
The events and the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade and advice line were promoted through leaflets delivered throughout the local community, posters in local businesses and community buildings, and letters sent to the groups’ existing contacts.
While BEG did the on-the-ground community engagement, CSE supported the group with training about the Green Deal/ECO and the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade, with the production of their leaflets and other engagement materials, funding an overhaul of their website, and helped with the hire of event spaces in addition to reporting their activity and monitoring enquiries to the HomeEnergy Upgrade and the advice line.
The impact of community group engagement
During the lifetime of the project, there were:
- 39% more calls to our advice line from Bedminster residents (145), compared to Brislington (104)
- 40% more residents were referred to the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade from Bedminster (73) compared to Brislington (51). The Bedminster residents were directly referred through questionnaires done by BEG, and 14 of these people went on to access the scheme.
This small pilot study showed the benefits of working with an existing community group to promote an energy efficiency scheme. The group was already known in the area and had knowledge of the local people and the types of homes they lived in.
For more information on Bedminster Energy Group and their future activity please visit their website: www.bedminsterenergy.org.uk
Article originally published by CSE, reproduced with permission.