SAVE (Solent Achieving Value from Efficiency) was a project funded by Ofgem, the energy industry regulator. It looked at reducing peak-time electricity usage, between 4-8 p.m. The Environment Centre took part in the project 2015-2018.
Through the project we provided a dedicated resource person – the Community Coach – and associated funding, to support positive improvements in local quality of life for a community in Southampton – Shirley Warren. The aim was to help make the community more sustainable – whether that be environmentally, socially or economically.
As well as supporting the trial community to achieve their individual objectives, the Project also offered opportunities to research how service agencies and communities can work collaboratively to achieve positive change in energy consumption through energy efficiency measures.
Within each selected trial community, local residents and organisations were able to draw on the resources of the SAVE Project over a continuous two year period to help identify the priorities for change and improvement that they would most like to see. The project also supported the community to achieve its chosen objectives as part of a dedicated local strategy. SAVE was actively supported by key local agencies including the local council, public utilities (electricity, gas and water), universities, social landlords, business and environmental groups. These agencies have partnered with the community in helping to deliver the community’s agreed strategy over the two year period.
In particular, the Project looked at the options for reducing energy consumption, especially peak electricity demand. This included shifting use of high-demand equipment like washing machines and dishwashers to off-peak times, and adapting cooking habits to use less energy between 4-8 p.m. The lessons learned will allow good practice to be shared through Ofgem with all electricity network operators across the UK.
Through the research interventions a measurable reduction in peak-time electricity usage was recorded. An understanding of how to manage peak demand will assist network engineers in making optimum decisions about how and when to invest in upgrading the power distribution system – and in the process, minimise disruption for communities affected. This will be particularly relevant in areas where the existing network is operating at or near capacity.
Shirley Warren Working Together
A big success of the SAVE project has been the development of the community group – Shirley Warren Working Together (SWWT) – which became a constituted community group in March 2017.
The group was formed to give residents of the area a voice, and to serve as a platform for people living in the Warren to work together. The group brings together groups and residents who live and work in Shirley Warren.
SWWT was formed with support from SAVE to:
– Give the community a voice,
– Make the community a better place,
– Save energy.
With support the Environment Centre the group meets to discuss issues and ideas within the community, and plan how to address each of the three themes through community events, providing information and raising awareness.
The group’s activities started off with a Community Cafe – an open, welcoming space where members of the local community can drop by, have a cuppa and a chat. More and more residents are getting involved, and making use of drop-in sessions by councillors, Citizens Advice, energy-saving advice and more. We have continued our involvement with SWWT, beyond the end of the SAVE project, to provide support on fuel poverty and energy efficiency to local residents through our on-going Southampton projects
Community Clean-ups in Shirley Warren
Since October 2016 the community have been holding regular clean-ups in Shirley Warren, to make the community a better place. These are taking place about every six weeks. With the support of Southampton City Council, the Environment Centre, local councillors and members of the community the Greenway around Shirley Warren has been transformed into a clean green space for all the community to enjoy. Check out the SWWT Facebook page for details of the latest clean-up.
Long Term Sustainability
While the SAVE project (Trial 4) has formally ended, the community group is moving towards being sustainable in the long term. Since becoming a constituted group, Shirley Warren Working Together, with the support of the Environment Centre, has been successful in bringing in further funding to continue the activities it has started, and to further its plans for a permanent community hub.