Hampshire County Council partnered with the Greening Campaign, to deliver grassroots projects at a community scale across the borough.
Hampshire County Council declared a climate emergency and committed to become carbon neutral by 2050. Approximately two per cent of Hampshire’s emissions come from the council's own buildings and assets, and 98 per cent wider borough activities that the council does not have direct control over. The council is focusing on behaviour change approaches to drive emission reductions for these harder to control activities (e.g. of private residents).
Hampshire County Council partnered with the Greening Campaign, to deliver grassroots projects at a community scale across the borough. The Greening Campaign initiative consists of three phases. In Phase 1, communities of up to 300 households will register with the Greening Campaign by expressing their interest in making sustainable changes within their community. A set of actions will be voted on by the community to address the climate change challenges they are facing. The community will then be provided with guidance on increasing participation amongst its residents.
The actions can be very simple (e.g. switching off lights when not in use), as the aim is to engage communities of all backgrounds, and to empower them to take action, no matter how small. The impacts of their work are also shared, so communities become inspired to do more. The communities submit the actions they have achieved to the Greening Campaign, who then work with the Energy Savings Trust to calculate the high level carbon savings for the community. This is done by applying carbon reduction assumptions based on the actions taking place and the assumption that communities are completing these actions (as they claim to do so). The communities then shared their success, approach and knowledge with other communities participating in the Greening Campaign.
Communities will then be invited to participate in phase 2 and to make further commitments relating to:
- Retrofitting (e.g. insulation measuring): Sustainable Places is working with the Greening Campaign to deliver retrofitting services.
- Creating wild spaces: through the help of the Wildlife Trusts.
- Climate change and health: The Greening Campaign is working with an NHS health professional to identify the impacts of climate change on health, to help communities be more resilient to these impacts.
In Phase 2, the Greening Campaign is driving the engagement with the communities, and the technical expertise is provided by the above mentioned partners. Finally, communities move to phase 3, to further progress the activities defined in phase 2. For instance, as part of the retrofit projects, communities will be supported to ensure that their homes can adapt to climate change impacts (e.g. increased heat and flooding).
To measure the impacts of the project, Hampshire conducts formal reporting which looks at various KPIs including the number of communities engaged and carbon savings. The council also undertakes informal reporting by gathering feedback via biweekly meetings with communities and communicating the success to the wider borough.
The main outcome that the council is aiming to achieve is an increase in engagement and behaviour change, as this will greatly contribute to emissions reductions. Community engagement levels in the Greening Campaign have reached 52 per cent (reflecting the percentage of households that take part in a community initiative). Depending on the actions that the community takes, carbon savings can range between 33 to 105 tonnes of CO2 per year. The carbon savings are communicated in simple manner to the communities, to demonstrate that their actions have great impacts, especially when done collectively.
Hambledon Village in Hampshire, is one of the communities that participated in the Greening Campaign. By following the guidance provided by the Greening Campaign, what started as an interest from one individual, grew to a community with commitments to deliver actions around retrofitting, waste reduction, supporting wildlife and climate health.
The main challenge that the council has experienced in delivering this project is resourcing and funding. Working with the Greening Campaign has helped the council mitigate some of its resourcing issues, but to work at a larger scale, the Greening Campaign will require additional funding, which they are seeking through grants. The council is also trying to find better ways to engage hard to reach communities. Through working with the Greening Campaign the council is hoping to better engage with residents from all demographics.
- Messages should convey clear benefits: It’s important that messaging around climate change, sustainability and decarbonisation is communicated in such a way that people understand the direct benefits to them (for example cost savings).
- Encourage small changes over time: The council recognises the importance of addressing behaviour change when implementing technical measures to decarbonise energy (e.g. air source Heat pumps.) To reduce carbon emissions, it is important that communities are slowly eased into decarbonisation activities (e.g. switching off lights) to increase their engagement and change their behaviours. They can then take part in bigger commitments.
- Recognise the different challenges facing communities: Each community has different challenges, and the actions to support decarbonisation will differ from one community to another. It’s important to understand that although actions within communities may seem small, their impact is large when measured collectively with the actions of other communities.