This project aims to explore what a well funded, socially just approach to energy efficiency schemes, in the context of fuel poverty, could look like. It will involve research and engagement with stakeholders, and demonstrate recommendations through funding and installing energy efficiency measures in customers’ homes.
The role of Electricity North West
Following the launch of our community energy strategy last year, we announced the Powering our Communities Fund to support projects that put community and local energy at the heart of communities. In particular, the fund is intended for projects that demonstrate how they can engage communities in energy issues; support vulnerable customers and/or reduce fuel poverty; or deliver new ways of working, fit for a smart, flexible low carbon grid.
The fund will provide some much needed resources into the development of community energy projects across the region and will help increase awareness and understanding of the benefits and possibilities that community energy can bring. A total of six successful projects received a share of £71,000, announced in March 2019.
What is community energy and how does this project fit the bill?
We see community energy as community-led projects or initiatives to reduce, manage, generate or purchase energy. Community energy projects focus on engagement and benefits to the local area and communities.
Carbon Coop’s Warm Homes for All project will be driven by the local community. It will support local energy efficiency schemes and it will help generate and retain investment within the local community. Engagement with the end-customers, the local authority and supply chain is key to its successful delivery.
Organisation behind the project
Based in Greater Manchester, Carbon Coop is a not-for-profit community energy organisation which aims to help people and communities make radical reductions in household carbon emissions and energy bills.
It delivers low carbon, innovation projects and promotes energy-saving retrofit services for domestic homes such as insulation, new heating systems and solar panels.
Background and detailed description of the project
Working in partnership with the local authority, the community and local suppliers, the Warm Homes for All project will develop a model for funding energy efficiency schemes which benefits vulnerable and fuel poor customers and invests in the local community.
Local authorities already fund small-scale energy efficiency improvements, but these currently have little input from the communities whose homes they serve. Carbon Coop project manager Aneaka Kellay cites schemes from other sectors which demonstrate that involving the end-user is key to designing well functioning services, such as user-centred design approaches in disability services.
Aneaka believes that to have any real impact on fuel poverty, we need quality design and build contractors and processes which will deliver high-performing energy efficiency projects. To achieve this, local authorities need to develop the capacity and expertise necessary to ensure effective schemes, developed and delivered by local suppliers with meaningful involvement of the local community.
One of the first tasks for the project will be to talk to key stakeholders, build relationships with local suppliers and research alternative supply chain models adopted by other organisations, which may be suitable for the provision of energy efficiency services.
One such alternative is a procurement approach adopted by Preston City Council which follows community wealth-building principles, investing in local supply chains and facilitating community participation. The ‘Preston model’ ensures investment is re-circulated locally and supports the creation of local skills and apprenticeships.
Desk based research will be shared and explored with stakeholders via workshops involving contractors, local authority officers, community organisations, vulnerable customers and stakeholders such as Electricity North West. These will focus on learning from previous schemes and exploring alternative approaches to resident engagement, funding, procurement and managing risk. Approaches such as community wealth-building and user-led design will also be explored. The workshops will provide opportunities for information-sharing, building relationships and generating ideas.
Recommendations that emerge from research and stakeholder engagement will be fed into Carbon Co-op's area based scheme which will install measures in the homes of vulnerable customers. The project will demonstrate how community energy organisations around the North West could collaborate with local institutions to deliver energy efficiency schemes for vulnerable customers that are effective and just. The project’s output will be monitored for several years to provide evidence of its effectiveness.
To deliver the Energy Justice project, Carbon Coop will be working with a number of partners including:
- URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) – an award-winning design and research consultancy based in Manchester;
- Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit – a multidisciplinary research group at the University of Salford.
Where to go for further information
For more information on our community and local energy strategy visit our strategy page or visit www.carbon.coop to find out more about the work of the Carbon Coop.