Category Archives: Behaviour change

How to design sustainability into your cuppa

This post is by Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at design and innovation consultancy SeymourpowellIt was first published on Guardian Sustainable Business.

If you’re reading this over morning coffee or afternoon tea, chances are you’ll have put the kettle on. Putting aside the sustainability impacts of coffee, tea, milk or sugar sourcing, which an eco-literate audience will likely know, or the social value, conviviality and cultural importance of these rituals, the humble kettle itself encapsulates many of the central sustainability challenges around behaviour change and consumer engagement.

In this article, I want to use the kettle to unpack an important area of sustainability and design: creating sustainable behaviour. Read more

How we’re repowering south London

This is a guest post by Agamemnon Otero, co-founder of Brixton Energy and Repowering South London.

Solving our energy problems calls for a rethink of our energy investment, generation and distribution systems. It asks us to look beyond blaming the big energy companies or individual consumer habits, to focus on creating an affordable system where all energy users are the key to the solution, as opposed to ‘the problem’. Read more

Why do people change their boilers?

This post is by Adam Bell, Green Alliance’s policy adviser on low carbon energy.

The next ten years must see a revolution in the way we heat our homes. A third of the UK’s carbon emissions come from heat, and we will need to both reduce the amount of heat we use in homes, and change the way we produce it, if we are to have any chance of meeting our carbon targets.

Heat exchange
The Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is intended to help achieve this by providing financial incentives to homes and businesses to replace their current heating with a renewable system, such as a heat pump, a solar thermal installation, or a biomass boiler. Read more

My big idea: buy your local wind farm

This is a guest post by Rebecca Willis, a Green Alliance associate and author of Co-operative Renewable Energy: A guide to this growing sector.

It is part of a series on big ideas to reduce the UK’s environmental impact

My big idea is simple. Give people the chance to buy shares in renewable energy developments near them. Whether it’s a wind farm, an Anaerobic Digestion plant or hydro power, there should be an option for anyone living locally to invest in the scheme, and share in the profits.

It would be a small change, but a very significant one, with the benefits felt far and wide. Read more

How to drive green growth in UK cities

This is a guest post by Zach Wilcox, an analyst at the Centre for Cities

Policy discussions on green growth and smart cities often centre on the details of which targets to pursue, how to measure CO2 emissions, and how urgently action is needed.

This is important, but in the meantime we also need progress on the ground. At Centre for Cities we are focusing on how UK cities can help drive, and meet, the growing demand for green products and services. Read more

Don’t be fooled by the rain – the UK needs water metering

This is a guest post by Nicci Russell, Policy Director at Waterwise

After the wettest ever June, the average total rainfall for July had already fallen by the middle of last month. And the drought earlier this year was dubbed the wettest ever. But drought it was, and groundwater levels were at record lows in many areas. Water companies are planning now for the possibility of a third dry winter, which really would put the cat amongst the pigeons. These increasing extremes of weather mean it is vital for us to get a grip on how much water we all use – and waste – every day. Read more

High ambitions for high rise sustainable living

This post is by policy adviser Hannah Kyrke-Smith.

On Monday 25 June 2012, we brought together the residents from an inner London high rise estate and three of their local councillors to take part in the first of three workshops we’re holding in estates across the city under our Towering Ambitions project.

We are looking into the sustainable living challenges faced by people in tower blocks. Visions of a greener, cleaner future often involve people living and working happily in tall, shining towers, taking advantage of the benefits they offer of saving space, reducing waste and maximising efficiency. Sadly though, the reality of tower block life is a long way from this vision and they can be among the least green places to live. And this problem is acute in many parts of London where nearly half the population lives in high density accommodation. Read more

Three things we can learn from video games

This is a guest post by Olly Lawder of sustainability communications agency Futerra.

Nothing is more engaging, distracting, entertaining or compulsive than video games. Don’t believe me? Then you either haven’t played them or you simply haven’t found the right one yet. And, if you’re one of those people who thinks that video games (and the people that play them) are stupid, then this post might change your mind, because video games could hold the answer to engaging millions in sustainability issues. Read more

Can wilderness workshops create a new generation of natural leaders?

This is a guest post by freelance writer and environmentalist Anya Hart Dyke

Louise Macdonald has always been very active in her community and in politics, but until recently the green agenda had passed her by. “It just didn’t stick”, she says. The chief executive of youth information charity Young Scot, Macdonald engaged with the idea of sustainability on an intellectual basis, and recycled her waste because that was what good citizens did, but overall she says she did very little.

Then in 2008 Macdonald took part in WWF Scotland’s Natural Change Project (NCP), which involved two week-long residential workshops in the wilderness. Read more

Four top communications campaigns that DECC could learn from

Tucked away at the back of Green Alliance’s recent report Neither sermons nor silence are some great examples of how government communication can be done well.

The report argues that to get quick, widespread take up of consumer-facing energy policies such as the Green Deal, government needs to tell people about them. Otherwise its ambitious target for one UK home to upgrade its energy efficiency every minute for the next 40 years seems, well, a bit hopeful. This doesn’t mean preaching, but it does mean developing some strong messages and partnerships.

Here are four examples of how government-backed communications campaigns have played a vital role in encouraging the public to change their behaviour, from installing smoke alarms to binning fewer leftovers. DECC, take note. Read more

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