How good is your local area at sustainable energy?
New ‘old school’ assessment tool helps councils, communities and citizens find out and improve
10 March 2017
A starting point for any local energy action should be to assess the current ‘state of play’. Until you know what’s already going on and how good it is relative to what could be done, setting priorities for improvement or initiating new activities risks duplicating effort or missing obvious opportunities.
That’s why we’ve created the Local Sustainable Energy Assessment Matrix – a paper and pen assessment tool to help local councils, community organisations or anyone else who is interested to benchmark their area’s current performance and identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement.
The assessment matrix has five dimensions of action, each with three or four sub-elements. It provides brief descriptors of what ‘weak’, ’fair’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ action might look like for each element, thus providing the opportunity for performance assessment either by local actors themselves or by a third party.
The five dimensions are:
- Domestic sector energy
- Commercial sector energy
- Fuel poverty and affordable warmth
- Low carbon energy infrastructure and markets
- Institutional ecosystem and resourcing
By picking an accurate description of the current local ‘state of play’ on each aspect, users can benchmark their area’s performance accordingly.
This approach will help users to understand how their performance compares with what could be achieved – and therefore what they need to be doing to improve. Thus an area which rates its performance as ‘fair’ can see what ‘good’ looks like and then consider what might be involved in making the next grade.
Download, print and use the matrix
Using the assessment matrix is really straightforward. Simply download it here, print it out and sharpen your pencil. Then work through each element of the five dimensions, considering the current state of relevant activity locally. Then just pick which of the four descriptors best describes it.
Repeat for each element to build up a reasonably detailed picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the area’s performance. We’ve provided some space for you to record your verdict and any evidence. Do let us know how you get on.
The matrix’s origins are in work we did some 10 years ago. That produced a set of balanced scorecards which were widely used at the time by local authorities.
As part of a study in 2016 for DECC (now BEIS), we have integrated these into one assessment tool, reflected the current policy context, recalibrated the performance benchmarking (because what was once ‘excellent’ may now be little more than ‘fair’ as a result of widespread adoption of better practice), and re-oriented the structure so it can be used to assess local energy action taken by any party, rather than just a local authority.