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Homes are much healthier through Healthy Homes!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 21.03.2017

Time: 15:20

After 362 home visits, more than £125,000 of home improvements and 719 free energy saving packs, PECT’s Healthy Homes project has come to an end.
During 2016, the Healthy Homes project worked with households in Peterborough and Fenland which were suffering- or at risk of suffering- from fuel poverty. The project aimed to reduce the number of households in, or at risk of, fuel poverty; increase the available income of fuel poor households; create carbon savings through improving the energy efficiency of homes; and improve health and wellbeing, especially problems exacerbated by living in a cold home (for example, respiratory or cardiovascular conditions).

In order to do this, the project set up links to receive referrals from partner organisations which were likely to be in touch with priority groups. Households then received a home energy advice visit, to look at potential savings from changing tariff, applying for the Warm Home Discount or implementing behaviour change tips. Households in need of additional support also received fuel debt relief or fully-funded home improvements such as loft or cavity wall insulation and new A-rated boilers.

A couple of months after the end of the project, PECT is now starting to look at the impact this work has had. Pleasingly, 75% of households suffering from fuel poverty at the start of the project are no longer in fuel poverty. Risk factors for households vulnerable to fuel poverty have also been reduced, by improving the energy efficiency of homes and reducing fuel bills. On average, participants saved £288.06 p.a. It’s hoped that this will also lead to longer term savings, with 62% reporting an improved understanding of their energy bills and 86% saying that they would be likely to change tariff or supplier again. Home improvements such as improved insulation and boiler upgrades will reduce carbon emissions by 17,418 kg during 2017 alone, with estimated lifetime savings of 231,644kg.

It’s too early to properly assess the project’s impact on health and wellbeing, particularly as many participants were suffering from long-term, chronic conditions. However, from the initial evaluation that’s been carried out, there has been an interesting link between support through the project and mental wellbeing.

At the start and end of the project, participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with various statements to assess mental wellbeing. At the beginning, responses from the group identified as in need of fuel debt relief were much more negative than responses from project participants as a whole (24% negative statements from all participants compared to 67% for fuel debt relief recipients). At the end of the project, there was a significant increase in positive statements from this group- up from 2% to 24%, while at the same time their negative statements dropped to 50%. Eliminating fuel debt certainly seemed to contribute to a marked improvement in the group’s mental wellbeing. 

It will be interesting to track the impact of the project over the longer term. In the meantime, PECT is continuing with its work to reduce fuel poverty, with the Warm Homes South Holland project and involvement in the Local Energy Advice Programme.

Tags:

#energysavings
#Healthyhomes
#Warmhomediscount
#coldhome
#installation
#homeimprovements

Greetham Valley Golf Course is above par with its sustainability

Category: Business

Date: 17.03.2017

Time: 15:03

Greetham Valley, in Rutland, has been working hard to achieve various environmental objectives over recent years and has now won the national 2017 Environmental Golf Course of the Year award for all the green improvements that it has made.

The venue was delighted with the success and Robert Hinch, the Managing Director commented: “We attended the awards for the first time and were absolutely astounded when we were announced the winners. Our success is in recognition of a great team effort with everyone in the business working towards the same goals.”

The Environmental Golf Course of the Year award recognises venues that demonstrate environmental best practice, with the aim of rewarding those that are making real improvements to their local environment and to the quality of life for the future. It is a great example to look at for sharing best practice with other organisations.

Recently measures have been taken to improve Greetham Valley’s overall resource efficiency, which have not only resulted in national recognition for the venue’s achievements but also overall long-term financial gains. Last summer two bio mass boilers were installed, which are proving to be very cost effective, and the installation of LED lighting is being rolled out, providing excellent short term payback opportunities.

With sustainability being at the forefront, significant environmental highlights of the Golf Course include the planting of over 26,000 trees across the estate since 1990. In addition, it has seen a reduction of water usage by 75% over the past two years through taking steps such as identifying waste through leakage, recycling rainwater and fitting more sustainable and efficient sanitary equipment in public areas, whilst the machinery wash-down system is an environmentally sealed recycling loop.

Greetham Valley believes that it is not only important to measure and reduce its own impact on the environment but also as having a responsibility towards wildlife. Therefore over the 25 years that the golf course has been established there has been a focus on increasing biodiversity through the provision of suitable habitats for small mammals and insects.

Adi Porter, Course Manager at Greetham Valley said: “We have a passion for producing the finest playing surfaces whilst also encouraging best practice for the environment, demonstrating how golf and ecology can thrive together in harmony.”

Some of the initiatives that have been implemented include: establishing wildflower meadows on the complex, a wildlife-friendly drystone and log wall for hibernating and shelter, a bug hotel, a bird of prey feeding tower, bird feeders outside the newly erected hides and a floating bird island.

The projects are always expanding and evolving, with one project in particular focusing on the 17 ponds and lakes across the estate, using environmentally friendly Bentile clay, to attract a diversity of flora and fauna. These ponds have been populated with fish and are very attractive to the local Rutland Water ospreys in particular.

Greetham Valley also invests in projects of national significance, such as Operation Pollinator, a national scheme to encourage golf courses to provide essential sanctuaries for bumblebees. The Golf Course has now installed a solitary bee tower, alongside wildflower meadows to provide the essential food sources and nesting sites required for pollinating insects.

Overall the management and staff at Greetham Valley are in full support of the programme of ecological works and the benefits provided and have taken steps to ensure that they continue to monitor all resources to maintain its progress.

And it is not just the staff who are embracing the culture, but members of the club are also now getting on board and showing their passion for helping the course to be even more environmentally friendly through suggesting new project ideas.

For more information, visit www.greethamvalley.co.uk.

Tags:

#sustainability

Category: Funders/Partners

Date: 16.03.2017

Time: 13:54

I admit, I have been known to (on occasion) become highly competitive… Everything from office bake-offs, to board games and Christmas desk decorating have all resulted in my extreme competitive streak coming to the forefront!

But now I’ve found a way to harness this sense of competition into something useful – raising funds for Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), by using the website easyfundraising.

It’s really simple to use. Whenever you buy anything online – same as you would do normally – from your weekly food shop, train tickets, stationery, insurance, and even your annual holiday, you could be collecting free donations for PECT.

There are over 3,000 shops on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, thetrainline and Sainsbury's – and it doesn't cost you a penny extra!

Simply head to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/pect/ and join for free. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost!

This is all great, but I have to confess what really appeals to me is the fundraising leader board, which shows how much you’ve raised for the charity so far in comparison to how much others have raised. It’s great for feeding your secret competitive streak! Plus, by donating to charity as you shop, easyfundraising helps ease the guilt when you’ve carried out a shopping splurge!

So get easyfundraising! There’s nothing to stop you.

Laura Fanthorpe is the Marketing and Communications Manager for PECT.

Tags:

#easyfundraising

The reluctant environmentalist

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.03.2017

Time: 11:49

A colleague recently asked me if I thought my attitude to the environment had changed since I started working at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). The question got me thinking… have my views and behaviours changed since I started working for an environmental charity?

Unlike a lot of the people who work at PECT I am not a vegetarian, I have never been on a protest rally and I am not a member of Greenpeace. I have never been overly passionate about the environment or thought much about the city in which I was born and raised. I guess like a lot of people I took these things for granted.

I was of course aware of the main environmental issues affecting the planet – my previous work for an engineering consultancy involved dealing with environmental impact assessments or how climate change impacted a design; however they never really seemed real - it was all facts, figures, research and charts.

It wasn’t until I started to work at PECT that I began to really look around me. Within my first few weeks here I was volunteering to coppice Bretton Woods. I took my father along who has lived in Peterborough all his life, and worked in Bretton for much of it. He had never been into the local woodlands and was not aware of the activities going on or how to get involved. We both had a really great morning and learnt a lot about why the woods need management and how to look after them.

Within my first few months I spent time with a number of business who were being audited as part of our Investors in the Environment green accreditation. It was great to learn what these business were doing and the positive impact they were having on the community in which they are based. I was lucky enough to go to the annual iiE Awards to witness so many of these businesses receiving recognition for their achievements.

In early summer I worked with our Education team to help run the Eco Awards, an awards ceremony to celebrate the eco success of schools all across Peterborough. I spent time with the judging panel and learnt about all the brilliant projects the children had been involved with. They had such passion and enthusiasm for the subject, with each school tacking a different environmental issue in a different way.

At the Green Festival in 2016 I persuaded my wife to volunteer. She is not an ‘eco-warrior’ and it was the first time she had used a litter picker. We both had a fabulous day, working with the PECT team and other volunteers, along with learning about what all the other environmental organisations do in the city to make Peterborough a better place to live and work in.

All of these experiences, the office debates and the involvement in projects at PECT has made me consider the environment more, along with what my family and I can do to help protect it.

I am now an avid recycler, I generally car share or use sustainable transport, I turn off my monitor when I step away from my desk and I like to encourage others to follow my example (much to the annoyance of some of my friends down the pub).

I must admit, I now find it hard to understand why anyone or a business would not at least think about their impact on the environment and what changes they can make.

Sometimes at PECT it can feel like we are working in an eco-bubble, with our composting bin and sharing table; I used to pride myself on being the ordinary man in the street when we discussed how to engage with people, being a naysayer or playing devil’s advocate, but increasingly I find myself agreeing more with the views of my colleagues and actively embracing sustainability. There is always something more we could be doing, but if we can all change a little then it adds up to a lot.

Stuart Dawks is PECT’s General Manager.

Tags:

#GoingGreen

Five Green Resolutions

Category: General

Date: 27.02.2017

Time: 14:46

This week’s tasty celebrations on Shrove Tuesday – when pancakes are traditionally made and eaten – are immediately followed by Lent. Starting this year on 1st March, Lent lasts for the six weeks leading up to Easter to reflect the period of ‘forty days and forty nights’ when Jesus was said to have fasted in the wilderness. To mirror this, Lent has traditionally been marked with fasting and ‘giving up’ pleasures or vices like sweets or smoking. For non-Christians as well, Lent is still commonly a time of year for making positive changes.

The most popular things given up for Lent in 2016  predictably included chocolates, sweets and alcohol. In 2017, why not give up something which could make an environmental impact?
 

Five green ideas to mark Lent:


1. Give up single use plastic bags

Single use plastic bags are contributing to the huge volume of plastic waste produced annually- this has an enormous environmental impact including the deaths of up to 1 million marine animals each year. Taking a cloth bag or bag for life shopping will not only reduce the amount of disposable plastic you consume, but will also save you 5p per bag.

2. Give up disposable drinks bottles

Like plastic bags, disposable drinks bottles are contributing to the mass of non-biodegradable plastic rubbish in the Pacific three times the size of Britain. Choose a refillable bottle instead.

3. Give up using the tumble dryer

If all British households with a tumble dryer switched to drying one load of washing outside each week, more than a million tonnes of CO2 would be saved each year.

4. ‘Give up’ 1 degree on your thermostat


Switching your heating down by 1 degree can reduce carbon emissions by 300kg per year, as well as saving you around £40.

5. Take part in a Carbon Fast

First started by a Bishop in Liverpool in 2007, Carbon Fast is a church-based movement promoting carbon reduction during Lent. Some Carbon Fast groups have produced Lent calendars with suggested daily carbon reduction measures for inspiration.

Emma Taylor is the Financial Claims Manager at Business Energy Efficiency.

Tags:

#positivechange
#greenideas

How do you manage your resources and make cost savings?

Category: Business

Date: 24.02.2017

Time: 13:26

There are more than a few ‘Top Tips’ out there to help you save money. I am not going to provide you with another list – I will instead suggest and encourage you to consider only one. An Environmental Management System (EMS).

The term EMS can create mixed opinions, especially around uncertainty whether an EMS is relevant for your organisation, and many people attach it to an accreditation scheme. Certification is the best practice for any business but, I would like to separate the certification element from the nature and purpose of an EMS for this article.

The purpose of an EMS is to provide a framework for businesses to manage their environmental impacts. This framework is relevant to all businesses and can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be, but the most important point is that you are ‘managing’ them, regardless of how you do it. We all know that business cannot work if there is not adequate management.

The same is true for saving money through resource management. If you do not manage your resources, you can never expect to make any improvements which can save you money. Once you have the basis of a management system in place, you will be able to identify actions that will help to reduce the amount of resources you use, saving money as a consequence. Developing and improving your system over time can lead to certification AND, of course, more money.

David Knight ( from Resource Efficiency Team, Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub 

To read the full blog, please visit: http://www.businesslincolnshire.com/news-blogs/blogs/uncategorised/how-do-you-manage-your-resources-and-make-cost-savings#.WLAxnXJvhDq



Tags:

#EnvironmentalManagementSystem
#Businesssavings
#resourceconsumption
#sustainability 

To weed or not to weed, that is the question!

Category: General

Date: 16.02.2017

Time: 09:00

Is there really any such thing as a weed? Aren’t they just plants we don’t want? We recently covered the thorny topic of weeds as part of the gardening course I am doing, and our first task was to define exactly what a weed is. 

As would be expected, the general interpretation of weeds was quite negative, with people saying things such as, “they are uncontrollable” and “they grow in places you don’t want them”. But has our view of these plants been tainted by our cultural concepts? Would we value weeds more if they were harder to grow, for example?

Weeds indicate fertile land. Nettles, for example, are dynamic accumulators, which mean they draw up nutrients from the soil and store them in their leaves. These plants are perfect for cutting and using as fertiliser for other plants. Why on earth would we want to get rid of something that has such a positive effect on our plants and soil? 

If you do decide you need a more orderly garden, then there is a ‘Hierarchy of Intervention’ to follow when you discover plants you didn’t sow in your garden:

1. Observe and do nothing;
2. Biological interventions – using other plants and animals to help get rid of your weeds;
3. Mechanical interventions – pulling them out;
4. Chemical interventions – which of course we wouldn’t recommend using!

At the start of the session, I had been keen to learn how to get rid of the dandelions on my lawn, but by the end was asking for recipes for nettle tea and dandelion salad.  For the time being, my dandelions and my “unplanned plants” can stay were they are!

“Weeds are plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Kari-ann Whitbread is the Fundraising Manager at PECT.

Tags:

#Getgardening

Warm Homes South Holland

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 10.02.2017

Time: 16:05

PECT has recently started delivering another Fuel Poverty project, expanding on our work in Peterborough and delivering it to residents across South Holland in Lincolnshire through a door-to-door advice service.

As part of my role I have been helping to deliver this work. Supported by our main energy assessor, Sam Bosson, I have been experiencing first-hand the issues faced by people on a day-to-day basis when it comes to keeping their homes warm.

With high levels of fuel poverty in our target areas and many older ‘hard to heat’ properties, I am getting a chance to see the real need for support with energy efficiency and staying warm at home. Having experienced rain and freezing temperatures during our first few sessions going door-to-door I can really understand why it is so important that people are keeping their homes warm!

These first few trips out have shown me that many people already have a good idea of how to keep their bills down through behaviours and through getting better energy deals. However, with virtually every household I have visited there have been areas where they could be making improvements, whether this is making behavioural changes or by altering their tariff to a lower priced one.

Although there are huge variances in the support people need – from those who just want a few pointers and general information, through to those who need help understanding their bills and making changes to their tariffs – we are able to help everyone with our personalised service in a way that we would not be able to with a more generic approach.

The initial project funding came from The Fenland Green Power Co-operative, a community group who owns two wind turbines at Deeping St Nicholas. This is the first time we have received funding generated from community-owned renewable energy, and it is great to think that as more community-owned energy projects mature they will be helping to provide funding for local services. This is a really sustainable model that can help communities across the country to support themselves more sustainably whilst also helping the environment.

This funding, and the match funding we received, came from direct approaches to PECT from people who had read about our previous energy visits work around Peterborough. Without our previous work, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to help households in South Holland, and we wouldn’t have been able to develop new relationships with funders. Whilst I am spending a lot of time out in the cold walking from door-to-door, it’s a very small price to pay for all the good impacts we are achieving!

Andrew Ellis is the Fundraising and Project Officer for PECT.

Tags:

#WarmHomes
#SouthHolland

Going green at home

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 09.02.2017

Time: 09:13

One of my previous blogs was about everything that PECT does to make its office as sustainable as possible. I am now in the middle of buying my very first house and I’m starting to think about what environmental initiatives I can introduce at home as well.

The first thing that comes to mind is the prospect of having my very own garden! A garden to plant and grow food in; I’m so excited! Not only am I looking to grow produce, I also want to attract wildlife to the garden, especially bees.

Bee numbers have fallen drastically over the past few years. It’s important to look after our bees for a number of reasons, including the fact that bees are vital to our food chain. Without bees, one-third of the food we eat would not be available!

One way to attract more bees to your garden is to introduce nectar and pollen rich plants, such as honeysuckle, lavender and foxgloves. You can also put bee hotels in your garden, which provide nesting places for bees and offer protection from the weather.

In terms of food, I’m only going to grow it on a seasonal basis. As Spring-time draws near, I’ll be looking to grow carrots, spring onions and peas. Then, later in the year I’ll be growing blackberries, cabbage and squash.

Finally, I’ll be getting a water butt in my garden to water all the new flowers and fruit and veg, using rainwater rather than the water from my kitchen sink.

I can’t wait for my new garden and really look forward to getting stuck in - wish me luck!

Selina Wilson is the Office Manager at PECT.

Tags:

#Growyourown
#gardening
#organic

For the love of tea

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.02.2017

Time: 09:45

There’s something about nature that we all love. Whether that’s watching the waves crash against the seashore, seeing a swan gliding through water, experiencing the breath-taking views from the top of Mount Everest or simply going on a woodland walk. Nature has a place in the hearts of us all.

But sadly, at the current rate of global warming, our beloved nature is at risk. The question stands: does the impact of global warming concern you? Or rather, does it concern you that global warming impacts people, places and life on earth?

The extent of climate change’s impact isn’t even just the ice caps melting, or causing increased acidity to the oceans, it has the potential to infiltrate into every single element of life that you and I enjoy, such as doing the gardening, eating chocolate and drinking tea!

Just take tea as an example. First thing in the morning we all enjoy waking up to that pot of freshly brewed tea. But what if tea begins to deplete in supply? Just consider the impact of rising temperatures on the production of your favourite tea. Global warming threatens the microclimate in the hills of Asia that produces so much of the tea that we love, and with it, this threatens the livelihoods of the millions of farmers whose lives depend on the production of our daily cup of tea. To read the full article, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26754121
I hope that others will see the importance of this issue and #ShowtheLove for nature, for the oceans, for farmers and for our cups of tea!

As a member of the Climate Coalition, PECT is looking to show its support for the ‘Show the Love’ campaign this February. The aim is to join forces to take action against climate change and show the love for the things that could be lost to the impact of climate change such as nature and wildlife.

We are looking for members of the community to join our Forest for Peterborough Tree Planting Day to show your love for the local environment. Join us on Saturday 11th February, drop-in between 10.30am-4.30pm, last arrivals at 2.30pm, at Werrington Open Space (parking and access via 51-58 Baron Court, PE4 7ZE.)
Make sure you register your attendance via simon.belham@pect.org.uk or via 07715372432.

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at PECT.

Tags:

#ClimateCoalition
#globalwarming
#treeplanting
#savetheworld
#showthelove
#ForestforPeterborough