Is our neighbourhood going to be fit for the future? (Part 1)

The changing climate seems very far from home, most of the time. We hear about it in the news, yet the causes and impacts are increasinngly all around us.

Green jobs and green energy just keep growing; one of the few parts of the economy that kept expaning in the recession.
Many local homes already help generate power in the city, and bring jobs and local spending to the area instead of funding the utilities.

I’m delighted that a project I started, to map a trail exploring how our neighbourhood can be adapted for the future, has been awarded funding to make a permanent record of some local features already in homes in the area for people to follow in months to come.  It will reveal how we can make a difference and look after our homes at the same time.

The new grant coming to the area follows our planned Sustainable Bishopston/Sustainable Redland event in Our Neighbourhood week [ see http://www.bcrnp.org.uk/festival/] to explore homes in our area that have been upgraded to save energy and deal with the impacts of climate change.
Part 1 of this blog covers local initiatives that can help us prevent the causes of climate change, and part 2 will deal with adapting to changes that will affect us.

The recent international report on climate change shows how convincing the evidence – some developed by Bristol scientists – is now for change caused by human activities. With our high energy consumption and lifestyles in this wealthy city we do need to play our part. Technologies we can develop and adopt are in fact also a thriving part of the economy in this city and region – one of the few parts of the economy that continued growing through the recession!

We’re also all probably feeling the pinch after winter fuel bills and the massive price rises the energy companies. So practical ways to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient do make sense and are often rewarding in many ways: making homes more comfortable, and protecting the fabric from wear and tear. The traditional, local solid-walled buildings are, however, much more expensive to treat, so we need to make sure that any work we plan is effective. The experience of neighbours who’ve done something similar is also really helpful. The trail I am developing with colleagues builds on the experience and advice of Bristol Green Doors who arrange the open house events (next in September 13-14th, 2014). it also draws on local people’s experiences.

DSCF2395_2
I developed the MakeyourhomeEco workshops and short courses to help demystify home energy issues

My interest in energy issues goes back many years, as I work in this field as well. For five years I was the Energy policy adviser to the local government sector in England and Wales – a fascinating job, with the Local Government Association, and one where I was able to help influence national government policy. We ensured recognition for the fact that actions at the local level to develop sustainable energy initiatives and to tackle the causes of climate change should become part of official government policy.
More recently I’ve developed an educational initiative to help share knowledge, undersrtanding, and to demystify practical actions we can take to save energy at home while improving comfort and cutting carbon. This is decribed in my other blog  http://makeyourhomeeco.wordpress.com/ – there’s also a short video here on this site where I explain its origins.

I also helped Bristol Energy Network develop their Bristol Community Strategy for Energy.

A Bristol Energy Network workshop
I discussed the many ways communities can be involved in, and benefit from, local energy projects as part of the development of the Bristol Community Straegy for Energy

This is working to ensure we can all benefit from the savings, jobs, training, local  contracts, neighbourhood involvement, and other spin-offs from being part of the solutions to tackling cold, draughty and expensive to heat homes. The strategy is vital to show we do not just have to be passive recipients of each project but can help shape,  staff, control and gain economic benefits, too.  see http://bristolenergynetwork.org/strategy

One of the energy co-ops in Bristol, which channel funds into local projects and help generate clean power in the city.
The second share offer of the Bristol Energy Co-operative, follows a successful first offer that has powered several local community buildings and given local people a better return on their capital, while cutting costs for community groups.

One example of this that I have been actively involved in is Bristol Energy Co-operative, that has helped local people invest in solar systems on community buildings.  Their latest share offer is open now – see http://www.bristolenergy.coop/

So as we approach the year 2015 and Bristol becomes European Green Capital, we really do have a lot to show others about a particular approach and lessons on how to tackle energy use at a city level.

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