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Hyperlocal Rainfall: June Progress

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 22.06.2016

Time: 09:30

With our beta app testing (the second phase of software testing) kicking off this week for Hyperlocal Rainfall we have been pretty busy over the past month getting everything set up and the app ready for our user testers. This has given me the opportunity to finally try out the beta version of the app for myself and I thought I’d share my experience to give everyone a taste of what the app will offer!

The rain came and went pretty fast last week, with quite a few sharp, heavy showers, and I think I may have been the only person in the country happy about this, because it gave me a chance to put the app to the test!

I thought I would test out the Hyperlocal Rainfall app by planning a couple of short walks around Peterborough city centre, trying to get some nice walks in between the showers. On my second walk I could see via the app that I might get caught by some heavy rain towards the end of my walk, so to see if this actually would be the case I grabbed my coat and planned to take some shelter when I got to that part of my walk (in the lovely gardens behind the Cathedral)! Just 3 minutes before the app had predicted the rain came and, from the app, it looked like I’d have a short wait before the next break in the rain. It was right, and with a bit of patience I could finish my walk and get back to the office nice and dry!

Now the version of the app I was using only provided prediction every 10 minutes so I was quite pleased with the rain starting within 3 minutes of the prediction! But our lucky testers will be getting our full predictions down to 5 minute intervals, so hopefully they will have an even better experience with it. 

Also, in the last week I’ve managed to use the app to avoid some very heavy rain on my walk home from the supermarket, which I was quite thankful for. I’m now looking forward to using Hyperlocal Rainfall as a staple of my commute to and from the train station and helping me be more prepared for my longer cycles when I’m not at work.  

Over the next month we will have our user testers trying out the beta version of the Hyperlocal Rainfall app, finding out how it can support them walking and cycling around Peterborough, what other uses they may find for it, and if there are any more tweaks that are needed to improve it. From there we will be gearing up for the Green Festival on Saturday 13th August where we will be showcasing the app for everyone, stay posted for more details!

As always, if you want to know more about the Hyperlocal Rainfall project and how you can get involved please get in touch!

Freya Herman is the Project Officer for Hyperlocal Rainfall. For more information on the app, please email freya.herman@pect.org.uk.

Tags:

#HyperlocalRainfall
#SustainableTravel

Joining the Sustainable City Network

Category: Beyond Peterborough

Date: 20.06.2016

Time: 17:15

Last week I had the privilege of attending my first Sustainable City Network event in Leicester. The event sees cities coming together to share best practice and raise awareness of sustainability issues within their respective cities. The network was started by PECT over four years ago and now has 15 cities as members.

This year’s event was attended by members from Leeds, Bristol, Leicester, Middlesborough and Peterborough. Members meet annually, at a different city, with the day split into information-sharing sessions followed by site visits to exemplar projects.

This being my first time attending, I was slightly sceptical about the value of my day out the office, away from my spreadsheets and contracts! However I found the day both highly informative and inspiring. We shared knowledge about the many challenges facing cities regarding sustainable issues, from transport to climate change to the physical improvement works being undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of public buildings.

The day started with a question and answer session with Leicester’s Assistant City Mayor and Councillor for Energy & Sustainability, Adam Clarke, who not only talks the talk about sustainable transport, but later we witnessed him walking the walk (or jogging the jog) to his next meeting!

The afternoon session saw us climb onto numerous rooftops to view the extent of solar panels being placed on public buildings, and a tour of the University of Leicester Centre for Medicines’ new building, which is the largest passivhaus in the UK. The afternoon session was followed by an excellent talk about environment education in Leicester by secondary school students from English Martyrs’ Catholic School.

I came away from the day having gained further understanding about implementing sustainability in cities – the challenges and also the opportunities it can create. I hope to be able to replicate some of the success we learned about from Leicester and the other cities, as well as hopefully inspire them with some of the great work we are already doing at PECT and in the rest of the city.

Stuart Dawks is the Commercial Manager at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).

Tags:

#SustainableCity

Walking the walk!

Category: General

Date: 10.06.2016

Time: 13:16

I have now been PECT’s Office Manager for a little over a year and one of the key parts of my role is to look after our membership with Investors in the Environment (iiE).

iiE is a national green accreditation scheme for businesses who want to boost their environmental credentials. The scheme helps businesses to reduce their impact on the environment and make savings by showing them how to track, manage and reduce their energy, water and waste usage. Businesses involved are audited each year and are recognised for their achievements at the annual iiE Awards.

Even through we’re an environmental charity there are always further things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. I have described some of the measures we have in place below:

Energy

- The installation of LED lights meant that last year we were able to reduce our energy use by a whopping 28%!
- Our heating is set between 18-21 degrees and is only on in the winter.
- We turn computer monitors off when not in use and switch lights off when leaving the room.
- We make sure our printers are turned off at the end of the day.

Waste/ Recycling/ Composting

- We have clear bags in waste bins so that our visitors and staff can see how little waste we have.
- We have a compost caddy and large recycling bins.
- We have a sharing table for leftover food to go on so there is no food waste.
- Reusable bags are available for staff to use when they go shopping.

Transport

- We have an electric car for staff to use for external meetings or visits to Peterborough residents or businesses.
- We have bikes for our staff to use.
- If our staff travel to meetings via bike then we will pay them 20p per mile.

Water

- We reuse leftover water from meetings for watering the office plants.
- We have toilet hippos in place in the cisterns, which reduces the amount of water flushed.

Paper

- All of our computers are set up for double-sided, black and white printing.
- We have a scrap paper pile for staff to use.
- We only use FSC certified, recycled paper.

All of these things and more help us to reduce our carbon footprint inside the office as well as our work helping businesses, schools and communities to reduce theirs across the city.  At PECT we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk too!

Selina West is PECT's Office Manager.

Tags:

#WalktheWalk
#iiE

The future looks bright with volunteers

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.06.2016

Time: 10:41

I sometimes get the feeling that if all the people who volunteer in the UK went on strike the whole country would fall to pieces, what with cuts to public services and third sector organisations struggling to gain funding. I find, more and more, that the people who are helping to get things done are ordinary people who are willing to give up their time to make the things they care about happen.

Volunteering is a very rewarding occupation and there is certainly a ‘feel good’ factor about giving something back; it keeps people active and provides a boost in confidence for all ages, plus is a great way of beating social isolation and boredom for many.

I volunteer for Backyard Food and find that it’s a great way to hang out with my friends, fellow volunteers who I’ve met since my involvement. I feel good that I’m part of a movement that’s offering a sustainable alternative to supermarket mayhem and love my days in the shop where I get to be in beautiful surroundings, and interact with shoppers and hear their stories and share mine, even if that is just chatting about the weather! Plus I also get to play shopkeeper which is great fun!

Many of our projects at PECT rely upon the support of volunteers, from those who plant trees for Forest for Peterborough to our regular office volunteers Peter and Karen, who keep the rest of us in check! Karen busies herself in the office two mornings a week and with 15 years of service is our longest-standing PECT member. One of the community’s team projects that would not exist without support from local resident volunteers is our Big Local team in WestRaven (Westwood and Ravensthorpe).

Funded by the Big Lottery’s Local Trusts, whose mission is to enable residents to make their communities and their areas even better places in which to live, WestRaven were lucky enough to be awarded one million pounds to spend over a 10 year period to improve their area and the lives of the people who live there. I’ve been working with the resident volunteers there for two years now and during that time I’ve really come to appreciate the dedication and skills of the people involved, and made some new friends along the way!

The two main thrusts of the project are to open a community cafe (watch this space for the date of the grand opening late this summer) and to create a community garden on a piece of land adjacent to Ravensthorpe school. Other things they are up to include creating a space for the youth of the area to be safe and happy and a ‘community chest’ where local people can apply for funding for their own projects.

The thing I’ve been most impressed with is the tenacity shown by the people involved; it’s been a long journey, which hasn’t been without its challenges (who ever thought opening a cafe would be easy?) but the residents just keep pushing on and doing their upmost best to stay in positive spirits and resolve problems as and when they arise. They have also created some impressive partnerships along the way, with the prison (the only Big Local area with inmates as residents), Cross Keys Homes, the local schools and many more.

The future is looking bright for WestRaven. Once the cafe is open and the garden is fully up and running these two places will be a great springboard for even more people to get involved and reap the rewards of volunteering.

If you would like to get involved with this project or other PECT projects please email volunteering@pect.org.uk. If you are thinking about volunteering elsewhere in the city click on the link to PCVS, there are also links to Backyard Foods and PECT volunteering opportunities.

My message is get involved – the rewards are fantastic and it’s a really good feeling to be giving something back, and, who knows you may even, like me, make some really good friends along the way.

Karen Igho is Communities Team Manager for PECT.

Tags:

#volunteersweek
#TeamPECT

Renewable energy surges!

Category: General

Date: 01.06.2016

Time: 10:00

An impressive zero-emissions milestone was marked in May 2016 when, for 107 hours between Saturday 7 and Wednesday 11 May, Portugal’s electricity demand was met completely by solar, wind and hydro power. It’s a particular achievement for a country which had previously relied heavily on coal and natural gas – as recently as 2013, renewables provided less than a quarter of Portugal’s electricity supply.

This trend for increased use of renewable energy has not only been seen in Portugal. Just a few days later, Germany announced that clean energy (wind, solar, biomass and water) had supplied almost all of its electricity on Sunday 15 May. Likewise, during a two-day period in 2015, wind power supplied 140% of Denmark’s electricity needs, with the surplus being shared with Germany, Norway and Sweden.

These surges in supply from renewable sources make headlines today, but industry experts are predicting that this kind of energy model will be common in the future. James Watson, the CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented: “This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years.”

So, where does Britain stand on the growing renewables trend? There are signs of a shift here, too – a new record was recently set when, over a 24 hour period in April, solar energy provided more electricity than coal-fired power stations. However, according to analysts Carbon Brief, the shift was due not only to the increase in solar capacity, but also to the decline in coal generation. Solar growth is also forecast to stagnate over coming months, as government incentives are cut.

The good news is that consumers can still choose to make a move towards renewables in the UK. Customers can opt for a green energy tariff, where the supplier commits to providing all or part of their energy from renewable sources. The Energy Saving Trust  offers free and impartial advice on renewable installations, as well as details of financial incentives such as ECO, Feed In Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentives.

Right here in Peterborough, the City Council’s Empower campaign  offers homeowners the opportunity to have solar panels installed free of charge. Former Leader of Peterborough City Council, Marco Cereste, said of the scheme: “It bolsters our ever growing environmental credentials by reducing the carbon footprint of our residents and the city as a whole.”

While 107 hours of exclusively renewable energy might seem a long way off for the UK, maybe it can be a reality here in Peterborough a little sooner.

Tags:

#RenewableEnergy
#SolarShift