Inspiration from Bristol’s Energy Champions
25th May 2015
Bristol’s Energy Champions met for the first time last week at the playful offices of OVO Energy. The band of volunteers from across the city will support existing sustainable energy projects and form exciting new initiatives. There were thirty attendees including representatives from the project’s partner organisations: Easton Energy Group, the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Friends of the Earth and UH NHS Foundation Trust.
The aim of the project is to create a network of Energy Champions who can drive sustainable energy initiatives in 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.
Sophie Pritchard from Bristol Energy Network is coordinating the project. She said “It was fantastic to see all the Energy Champions get together for the first time. Between them they have so much experience, skill and enthusiasm, and I’m sure they will soon have Bristol buzzing about energy.”
First on the agenda was an introduction to projects in Bristol that could benefit from Champion involvement; there are opportunities to conduct energy audits of homes, support schools to install solar power and run promotional stalls.
Following this, breakout groups bandied about the possibilities. For those who have had project thoughts brewing, this was a great chance to voice them and stimulate enthusiasm from other Champions.
“I really enjoyed the event, especially meeting the other Energy Champions – it was exciting to feel part of something and I even got the chance to pitch the beginnings of an idea I’ve had for a while about private sector housing and energy efficiency. I’m hoping others will join me now to make it happen!” – Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett
As the discussion flowed, there were suggestions to run energy efficiency workshops in Bath, talk to renters and landlords about energy efficiency, and create visual representations of energy use in the home to encourage a reduction in demand. The connected and enthused Champions will now go away and nurture these ideas ready for their next meeting in a month’s time.
Energy Champion Luke Mehdi is positive about his role.
“I joined Energy Champions as I’m interested in environmental issues and planning to do a degree in environmental consultancy. Energy Champions offers me experience, networking and a chance to find out more about the environmental sector in Bristol. I took part in my first event earlier today, promoting solar to schools, which involved a pedal powered light bulb challenge – the kids were very active and involved and it was a lot of fun!”
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.
Energy Champions are being recruited and trained throughout 2015. If you’d like to join the team, host a sustainable energy event, or have a project that would benefit from support by our Champions, please get in touch with Sophie Pritchard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cat McLaughlin – Project Worker in Communications & Publicity at CSE and member of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership Energy Group