Top Trumps - Exemplar European Project

Carbon Forum's Top Trumps project has been hailed as an ‘exemplar European project'. On Wednesday this week, Kris McGowan, Carbon Forum Team Leader, was invited to speak to delegates from across the West Midlands who are currently planning their own pan EU projects. Kris gave tips and advice, inspiration and assistance to the help steer applications from the University of Birmingham, Staffordshire University, Herefordshire Council and the Birmingham and Coventry Chambers of Commerce.

The Eco Vehicles Top Trumps pack was developed by Kris in 2008 and distributed to over 2500 school and to individuals across the globe. The pack is now out of print and has become somewhat of a collectors item. We will shortly have the pack available electronically for use. In the meantime you can view the Green Driving Guide that accompanied the pack here:

Co-operative Food Group - Training completed

MEA were commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to deliver household energy training to Area Energy Champions of the Cooperative Food Group. The result was informative, engaging and stimulating advice and training. Twenty sessions were delivered to the Area Energy Champions, District Energy Champions and Operations Managers across the UK - from Belfast to Broadstairs, Inverness to Nottingham. The training was delivered to them with a view to cascading the training to the store managers, store energy champions and ultimately to all Co-op retail staff.

The basis for the training was the understanding that through undertaking energy saving measures in the home, staff would be able to apply these techniques in the work place, and in some cases vice versa. The Co-op group has an overarching ambition to cut energy use by 25% by 2012 and has made significant in-roads to achieving this target. However, they acknowledge that they are only going to be able to do this with the assistance of a motivated and fully trained group of energy champions.

The training thus developed was delivered to twenty groups of Area Energy Champions numbering 258 participants. Each, now fully trained in home and store energy efficiency, will between now and autumn be cascading the training to all staff. They are tasked with assisting the Regional Energy Managers delivering on the 25% target reduction in energy use. It is the opinion of the trainers that this is now well within their grasp.

The training was well received and appreciated by both the Regional Energy Managers (who delivered it in tandem) and the attendees, some of whom were quite skeptical of the impact that they could have. All are now ‘energy literate', fully trained to achieve major savings, both in the home and in store.

On the store energy side we had a rather hilarious ‘airing dirty laundry' session revealing several energy gaffes - a suspended ceiling that was removed to reveal another lighting rig full of working and lit T12 tubes; a water heater left permanently on but not used for three years, two floors above the trading floor and lastly; a spare extractor fan that was turned off to save the store £5,000 per year. It was also useful to note that although many stores have been refitted recently and had upgrades, most of the energy savings that have been made in this district have been through the housekeeping actions of the energy champions network, not through the installation of clever kit.

Some of the attendees were experienced energy champions. Their previous work in this area had brought them into contact with the Energy Saving Trust before and some had undertaken measures in their own home. Many of the age old myths were busted, like timing your heating rather than leaving it on all day - one energy champion had saved over £500 in the last quarter by doing so!

We hope to work with the EST and Co-op again in the near future and wish the Co-op the best of luck with achieving their targets - we are sure they can do it.

Here is a selection of the feedback form the project:

"I just want to say a big thank you for the vital role you played in delivering the training in a very professional and knowledgeable manner, whilst being amiable and engaging with the district and area energy champions."

"Thanks for all your hard work and effort in delivering this project in so many different area. I now happy that my whole region has been covered from Scotland to Ireland and the IOM."

"Thank you very much for the great job you have done in our first two energy champion training sessions."

"My belief is that we have really set the champions we have worked with up with the tools to go and continue the cascade process of a sustainable, self perpetuating package which will benefit all the recipients at home, at work and for the general good of the environment."

"Thanks a lot Kris, I enjoyed it and learnt a lot."

Closure of LCBP - response

Further to the news that the LCBP programme has closed Tristan Haynes, MEA's Technical Adviser makes the folowing response:

The closure of the LCBP grants programme for renewable heat installations on Monday this week may well seem like a blow to the emerging renewable heat technology installation industry and certainly could be in the immediate term. However, whilst journalists and lobbying organisations are making much capital over the announcement it is not necessarily what it seems at face value!

Firstly the LCBP programme was always due to close long before the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) programme came in anyway; although it is true that £3 million previously allocated to it has been taken away as part of the £6 billion spending cuts being implemented by the new coalition Government.

Secondly those receiving a grant for an installation may not have been eligible for RHI payments if they had accepted the grant anyway (or at least would have to pay the grant back) due to various issues over the potential for ‘double counting' of CO2 savings at Government level and recipients being in potential receipt of funding exceeding ‘state aid' limits.

Finally the introduction of Feed-In Tariffs (FIT's) in April and the forthcoming RHI programme were always intended to replace up-front grants and in the long term will be worth far more than any grant ever was. It is, however, unclear as to how initial capital will be made available to those wishing to install such technologies (which poses a problem to community organisations in particular). Conventional bank loans could be used (although would likely have a NET cost), Government-backed low/zero interest loans may become available for the public sector in particular and utilities providers or even the Government itself may back their own ‘pay as you save' or hire purchase schemes. There is certainly much potential in general for third parties to offer upfront capital and/or maintenance of the installations in return for taking some/all of the returns; this is especially of interest for those developing potential ‘community share offer' projects.

The closure of this grant scheme may prompt speculation that the RHI itself may be under threat. However, this is unlikely as the inclusion for its provision in the Energy Act 2008 had strong cross-party support and consultation on the detail of the actual scheme has just finished with clarification on the Government response expected before December (when it will have to actually be implemented through secondary legislation). It is worth noting also that, like the FIT's, this scheme will actually cost the Government very little as it will be largely paid for by users of conventional heating fuels paying a surcharge on their bills (much in the same way that the current Climate Change Levy on commercial users of heating fuel works)

See for an opinion supporting this from the leading UK renewable energy industry lobbying organisation, the Renewable Energy Association.



Which lifestyle changes?

What's the one lifestyle change I could make that would have the most positive environmental impact?
Ditching the car, having no children, eating less meat? Go to this link for interesting responses from individuals and organisations, including EST, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth:


National Carbon Calculator

Try out this great carbon tool and pretend you are the new minister for Energy and Climate Change! Add wind turbines, increase industrial efficiency, reduce food waste, increase use of electric cars, balance energy demand and've got to try this out but... Warning: it's seriously addictive - do not look at this link unless you have at least 15 minutes to spare!