Once your community has decided that it wants to start some kind of group energy saving initiative for itself, the next big question is deciding where the scope lies to do it. What sort of projects should you think about running – and where? Should you concentrate on individual households, or community buildings? Does the nature of your neighbourhood favour joint travel schemes, or would you be better off looking at something else altogether?
For any fledgling group looking for a first project – or an established one looking for the next big undertaking – it’s worth taking the time to gauge the scope across the whole spectrum of possibilities. Here’s a quick questionnaire to get you focused on some of the key areas and start you thinking about the direction your particular community could take in its energy saving efforts.
It’s divided into sections and if you score each one individually, you should get a pretty good idea of whether that’s an area that is likely to have plenty of scope – or if you’d probably be better off with a different sort of project altogether.
- 1 HOMES & BUILDINGS
- 2 1. How would you describe the homes in your neighbourhood ?
- 3 2. Are the homes in your area mostly:
- 4 3. How many community buildings are there in your area?
- 5 4. How does your local authority feel about planning applications involving renewable energy ?
- 6 TRANSPORT & SHOPPING
- 7 1. Which best describes the shops in your local area?
- 8 2. Do any of the major supermarkets deliver to your area ?
- 9 3. Where do most people work; how do they get there?
- 10 4. How good is the public transport network in your area ?
- 11 GARDENS & PUBLIC SPACES
- 12 1. Which best describes the private gardens in your neighbourhood ?
- 13 2. Are there any community-run allotments in your area?
- 14 3. Does the local authority have a composting scheme of its own?
- 15 4. Is there much trouble with graffiti or vandalism in your area?
- 16 SCHOOLS & GROUPS
- 17 1. What kind of schools are there in your neighbourhood?
- 18 2. Are there any youth groups or associations in the area?
- 19 3. Are there any teachers / group leaders in your energy saving group?
- 20 4. Are any of the schools / groups already involved in environmental projects or recycling?
- 21 Deciding The Scope
HOMES & BUILDINGS
Saving energy in our own homes and community buildings is a great way to start – should you be thinking about putting PV on every roof and a wind generator on the Village Hall, or would something less ambitious work better?
1. How would you describe the homes in your neighbourhood ?
- a) A mixture of old and new properties.
- b) Mostly older properties.
- c) Mostly new properties.
2. Are the homes in your area mostly:
- a) Split between owner-occupied and rented?
- b) Owner-occupied?
- c) Rented?
3. How many community buildings are there in your area?
- a) One or two.
- b) Several.
- c) What community buildings?
- a) Neutral – they treat them on their merits.
- b) Very supportive and view them favourably.
- c) They don’t seem to be that keen on them.
TRANSPORT & SHOPPING
Transport accounts for a large amount of the average household’s energy use – and carbon footprint – so will schemes to reduce travel and cut those food miles work for your community?
1. Which best describes the shops in your local area?
- a) Mostly big chains and major supermarkets.
- b) Mixture of big chains, supermarkets and local independents.
- c) One or two local independents.
2. Do any of the major supermarkets deliver to your area ?
- a) Yes – one does.
- b) Yes – several.
- c) No.
3. Where do most people work; how do they get there?
- a) Mostly commute to work in nearby cities/towns.
- b) Mostly at local employers, within a 15 minute drive.
- c) Within walking distance.
4. How good is the public transport network in your area ?
- a) OK on the whole, but the timetable is a bit limited.
- b) Hopeless; we’re very poorly served by trains and buses.
- c) Excellent.
GARDENS & PUBLIC SPACES
Reducing your community’s use of resources is a great way to start saving all that embedded energy, so is there any scope for composting schemes, grow-your-own projects or community gardening where you live?
1. Which best describes the private gardens in your neighbourhood ?
- a) Most homes have average sized gardens.
- b) Most homes have quite large gardens.
- c) Most homes have no garden or a small yard.
2. Are there any community-run allotments in your area?
- a) No, but there’s community owned land that would be ideal.
- b) Yes, there’s already a thriving allotment group.
- c) No.
- a) Yes, they collect fortnightly.
- b) No, but they do offer cut-price composting bins to residents.
- c) No, they don’t offer any special services for garden waste.
4. Is there much trouble with graffiti or vandalism in your area?
- a) A bit, from time to time, but nothing too serious.
- b) No, never.
- c) Yes, sadly – it’s everywhere.
SCHOOLS & GROUPS
Schools and youth groups can provide a source of inspiration, help and an army of willing volunteers.
1. What kind of schools are there in your neighbourhood?
- a) A local primary school.
- b) Several, from little primary schools to large secondary schools.
- c) None / a single large secondary school.
2. Are there any youth groups or associations in the area?
- a) Yes, one or two.
- b) Yes, several.
- c) No.
3. Are there any teachers / group leaders in your energy saving group?
- a) Yes, one or two.
- b) Yes, several.
- c) No / Don’t know.
4. Are any of the schools / groups already involved in environmental projects or recycling?
- a) Don’t know.
- b) Yes.
- c) No.
Deciding The Scope
Mostly (a)s – There is certainly scope in any category with lots of (a)s for projects, but it may not be the best choice, particularly if your community scores more (b)s for other areas. If, on the other hand, you’re coming up with (a)s for ALL of the sections, then there should be plenty of scope to run a project, but you’ll probably have to give it a bit more thought to decide which you all feel is likely to get the best local support and be the most successful.
Mostly (b)s – Any section where you’re answering mostly with (b)s has strong potential for your community when it comes to possible energy projects. Existing conditions and/or levels of support would seem to be favourable – so anything in this area would make a particularly good first project to get things going, or an ideal showpiece undertaking if you’re looking to expand your efforts.
Mostly (c)s – If any section is full of (c)s, then it’s likely to be less suitable for your particular community, so it’s probably best to concentrate on instigating projects in areas where you came up with more (a)s and (b)s where you can. It doesn’t mean that you can’t run a successful community project in a (c)-scoring section, but you will probably all have to put more effort in than you would elsewhere to get it to work, since the circumstances don’t favour it so strongly.