Bristol Energy Champions
Training people to engage their communities with sustainable energy
Project duration: December 2014 ongoing
The aim of this Green Capital project is to create a network of Energy Champions who can drive sustainable energy initiatives for Bristol 2015 and beyond. The Energy Champions will engage people, communities and local businesses with saving energy, generating local renewables and tackling fuel poverty.
Both behavioural research and partners’ experience suggest that people (at home or work) are more likely to change their behaviour when they are advised to do so by someone local who they know and trust. So we’re harnessing the power of peer endorsement to enable a wide ranging and diverse group of Bristol volunteers to act on and communicate sustainable energy in their local community.
The project idea evolved from the groups that make up Bristol Energy Network (BEN) and remains a collaborative effort between BEN (of which CSE is a member), OVO Energy, Friends of the Earth and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. With the help of start-up funding from Ovo Energy and a Bristol 2015 strategic grant, we hope to train 100 to 150 Energy Champions over the course of the year.
Who will they help?
Conversations between informed and inspired volunteers and Bristol residents have the potential to spread awareness of sustainable energy topics – it is thought that as a result of the project 12,500 people will have improved understanding of energy saving, affordable home heating and the benefits of renewable solar and smart meters.
Trained and dedicated Champions will be active within their own communities, or partnered with local organisations engaged in sustainability, through which they can pass on knowledge to members, clients and those they connect with. A young audience will benefit too, as some volunteers will be affiliated with schools where they can raise awareness and encourage energy efficiency and installations of solar PV.
What will they do?
Many potential partner organisations have already been identified; in collaboration with these or in their local neighbourhoods, Energy Champions might be:
- Taking thermal Images of homes with Easton Energy Group and Ambition Lawrence Weston
- Showing people around energy efficient homes at a Bristol Green Doors event
- Learning how to construct solar panels (and teaching others) with Demand Energy Equality
- Providing advice and support on energy efficiency alongside Talking Money
- Participating in street parties, local events and tea parties
Training for Champions
A training programme has been created specifically for the Energy Champions. It has been divided into two sessions: ‘Energy Efficiency’ and ‘Talking About Energy’. Together these cover a host of sustainable energy topics including low carbon retrofitting, smart meter roll out, affordable warmth and renewable energy. One of the intentions for Bristol’s year as Green Capital is to create a legacy of sustainable living. The network of trained volunteers will continue to support Bristol’s sustainable energy efforts past 2015, so it should prove very valuable for this long term vision.
CSE is experienced in supporting volunteers, with over 40 involved in energy advice, office administration and marketing. Full training and support is offered to all covering a range of energy related subjects. For instance, Warming Bristol Communities was a scheme that improved the lives of people from the Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BaME) communities in Bristol living in cold, damp homes, struggling to pay fuel bills or in fuel debt. For this we trained 14 active volunteers from BaME community groups who were to work alongside CSE energy advisors to deliver energy advice in the householder’s first language.
If you’re interested in becoming an Energy Champion, would like to host a sustainable energy event, or have a project that would benefit from support by our Champions, please get in touch with the Sophie Pritchard by emailing email@example.com.
This project is funded by Bristol Green Capital and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.