Communities benefit from energy saving grants

  • Posted: 08 Feb 2017

In November 2015, Thrive Renewables launched its Community Benefit Programme which has now run a full year. The aim of the grant scheme, funded by Thrive and administered by the nationwide charity, Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) in Bristol, was to help community buildings in locations close to Thrive sites to identify and install simple but effective energy improvements.

This is achieved by owners carrying out their own self-guided energy audits and using local trades people where possible to reduce running costs, lower CO2 emissions, and increase the use of their premises, making them more accessible, comfortable and better utilised to groups relying on them.

Grants awarded in 2016

A total of eight grants were awarded in 2016 ranging in value from £800 to £4,000 (the grant maximum). A variety of buildings benefited from the grants including community centres, village halls, a cricket pavilion and a Baptist church/youth centre all based around Thrive sites across the country including Bristol, Lancashire, Cumbria, Fife and Suffolk.

The range of improvements installed, as a result of the grants, included loft insulation, double glazed windows, replacement external doors, energy efficient lighting, lighting sensors, pipe and hot water tank insulation, water saving devices like taps and instantaneous water heaters, floor insulation and replacement heating – all essential for helping to improve the comfort and warmth of buildings during cold months - often a time when these buildings are underutilised.

There were other zero cost energy saving measures adopted by some of the groups receiving funding, as well as some just calling for advice, including cleaning windows to let more light and heat in, and labelling switches and controls so users could switch off lights after use/or make best use of their heating. The improvements have benefitted organisations as diverse as toddler groups, ballroom dancing lessons, the Womens’ Institute, friendship clubs, youth sports teams and budding music makers.

Through this programme Thrive also hopes to educate and empower people locally to take the self-guided energy audit of the community building and then feeling confident to use the same approach at home or for friends. The impact in the community is then wider than the measures installed in the hall.

Energy savings made

The total amount awarded in the first year of the programme was £25,872 with a total annual savings calculated at 10.13 tonnes carbon dioxide saved by the scheme and 36,839 kWh.

A representative of the Victoria Institute in Caton, Lancashire (based near our Caton Moor site) spoke about the improvements to their local hall:

“I must tell you that there is a very real improvement in the warmth and comfort in the Institute without turning up the heating or using additional heaters. We are all very pleased with this as you can imagine. Parts of the building are much less draughty and overall feel warmer since the installation of the two doors and window. Customers have commented on the smart doors and have noticed the increased comfort to the area that the new door has made. The visual improvement of the new doors and window has also enhanced the appearance of the building.”

Taking the programme forward

With the voluntary Community Benefit Programme clearly achieving impact in line with Thrive’s mission, the scheme has already been extended into a second year. This will allow more projects to be funded under exactly the same criteria and supplements the wide range of educational and environmental work we do around renewables and sustainable energy across the UK.

Want to learn more?

We can all take steps to saving energy in our homes, community buildings, offices and place of work. Visit the CSE website for more information on how to change the way you think and act on energy.

Centre for Sustainable Energy

Our vision is a world where sustainability is second nature, carbon emissions have been cut to safe levels and fuel poverty has been replaced by energy justice.

Our mission is to share our knowledge and practical experience to empower people to change the way they think and act about energy.

We do this by giving advice, managing innovative energy projects, training and supporting others to act, and undertaking research and policy analysis.

At any one time we have around 60 different and separately-funded projects underway. All of these are helping people and communities to meet real needs for both environmentally sound and affordable energy services.

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