Carbon Co-op‘s Jonathan Atkinson gives answers to the 11 questions that Manchester Climate Monthly has sent to a bunch of environmental groups (It’s also open to individuals…).
1. What is the purpose of your group? (three or four sentences)
We exist to help householders make large-scale reductions in their home energy usage, through the retrofit of energy efficient measures and through other low carbon technologies.
By working together, through a co-operative, people are better able to access technical advice, to build skills and knowledge, to find appropriate and trusted contractors and to support each other along the way.
People can join the co-operative as members and receive a range of member benefits, or we run a range of services and projects that the wider, general public can access.
2. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved have?
3. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved want to develop?
The answer to both these questions is that we conduct members surveys and member research to assess the skills and knowledge people have and would like to have. We run regular socials and training events where people can access and share knowledge related to energy efficiency and low carbon technologies and receive specialist advice from professionals.
As well as this, we run member-orientated training in different aspects of the co-operative and its governance. This is aimed at enabling members to participate in governance and strategy decisions and enabling members to join the Carbon Co-op board as directors.
Board members and prospective board members undergo a more formal skills audit and we offer training to fill gaps in skills that are identified or need to be strengthened.
4. If people get involved in your group, what sorts of things will they end up doing? (stuffing envelopes, selling newspapers, knocking on doors, getting arrested etc etc)
A range of things, such as…
– Participating in Green Open Homes events, eg opening up your eco-home to visitors one or two times a year and showing people round (or supporting householders to do that as a volunteer)
– Attending a social or training session or authoring a blog post <http://carbon.coop/blogs> sharing your experiences of how you reduced your household carbon (what went well and what went wrong!)
– Being trained up as a (Carbon Literate) Retrofit Advocate and using your skills to talk about retrofit knowledgeably on a stall at a local green event or with friends and neighbours
– Attending an AGM or a strategy session and contributing to the future direction of the co-op
– Joining the board or a working group and getting involved in anything including supporting staff in the personnel group or taking on a formal role such as Treasurer or Company Secretary. As a board member you could be getting to grips with a complex construction contract or organising and ordering the food before a board meeting – we’re always looking for more people so get in touch if you’re interested!
Successes and “opportunities for improvement”* in 2015.
5. What have been your group’s main Manchester-based successes in the past year? (i.e. nothing that took place outside the ring road counts)
Delivering a programme of eco-homes, whole house retrofits that have reduced householder’s carbon emissions by up to 90%. Although the work took place in 2014, we now have 12 months of monitoring data and can start to see the huge impact the work has had on the energy efficiency of these homes.
There are some great videos here where the householders share their stories:
…also, running some great events and socials, several Green Open Homes events and meeting a range or amazing, inspiring people along the way.
6. What were the things you hoped to achieve but didn’t.
We know we could be better at communicating the work we’ve done and are doing, both to members and to a wider audience and that’s something we will work on in 2016.
Also, our members are always asking for a listed of recommended specialist retrofit contractors. As it’s a new and complex area, with very few specialist contractors and a lack of genuine quality standards, we aren’t in a position to do this – but again, it’s something we want to work on.
The coming year
7. What do you hope to achieve in 2016? What are your success metrics for December 31st 2016.
We’re looking to consolidate the work we’ve done to date and ensure more of the learning we’ve generated as an organisation and as individual members is better disseminated and shared with others.
We want to ensure that Carbon Co-op remains a genuinely innovative organisation, carrying out projects that others aren’t (not simply replicating other people’s services) and piloting new, large scale models for saving household carbon.
– To help more people save more household carbon in 2016.
– To help more people live in comfortable, healthy and warm homes in 2016.
– To help people work together and achieve these things through collaborative and co-operative means.
8. What (up to 3) things would you like do see done in Manchester to make the city less crap on climate action
a) by the City Council
We work Greater Manchester-wide, so we think in terms of the Greater Manchester Authority rather than Manchester City Council.
– Use devolution and a Greater Manchester energy company as a means to support and critically provide funding mechanisms to deliver energy efficient retrofit
– To establish a city region-wide climate change co-ordination body to support the widespread and large scale reduction in carbon emissions, ensuring that this body is representative of wider civil society and is democratically accountable to civil society (perhaps this is a role the GM Low Carbon Hub can and will fill).
– If climate change targets are due to be missed (and statistics indicate they are) to work collaboratively with civil society to develop, pilot and test new, innovative and potentially large scale models for achieving additional carbon savings.
b) by the “climate movement”
– to hold government, local authorities, and the public sector generally, to account on climate change, to ensure promises made are met and if possible surpassed
– to propose and test innovative, collaborative and socially progressive models for achieving large-scale carbon emission reductions
– To identify, research, campaign against and stop, environmentally destructive, regressive and centralising projects and programmes that will lead to large sources of new carbon emissions.
– (Sorry, cheating with four)…to network and make common cause with other, diverse groups (not simply get other people to join our groups) and if necessary to offer practical help when things go to pot e.g. flooding in Salford etc!
9. What is the stupidest thing the “climate movement” could do this year?
Hold another march.
10. How can people get involved?
Come along to an event or social, the dates are displayed on our website.
11. Anything else you’d like to say
Happy New Year!