Why is energy efficiency so important?
In 2019 the Welsh government announced a Climate Emergency, responding to the substantial and growing bank of evidence demonstrating that human development is causing serious and irreversible damage to the natural environment.
In Wales, we are world leaders in recognising the value in sustaining our environment and making steps towards changing our behaviour to reduce the damage we cause to the planet. Alongside the industrial recommendations made by the UK Committee for Climate Change to get Wales to cut carbon emissions by 95% is the importance of “retro-fitting buildings to make them energy efficient.”
In simple terms, this means reducing the amount of energy a building uses by fitting it with measures that
- Reduce wastage (like draughts or escaping heat)
- Use less to do the same (like replacing older boilers or appliances with newer, better technology)
- Help the building generate its own energy to use (through renewables such as solar or hydro power)
By lowering the energy used by the building, the impact on the environment is reduced and the building quickly becomes more affordable to run.
Why should we have energy efficient Community Buildings?
Very often, the up-front cost of installing energy-saving measures is the hurdle that is most difficult to overcome for community organisations. Many community groups don’t generate a large income, and even when they do their non-profit status means that very little is retained as capital, and is reinvested in the people they serve, the communities that benefit from them and the support or services they provide. However, ensuring that community building are energy efficient ought to be a high priority, for a number of reasons.
- Energy efficient buildings are more comfortable
Community facilities are only useful if people want to visit them and spend time in them. Inefficient buildings tend to be harder to keep warm, expensive to illuminate, damp or draughty. By investing in the efficiency of the building you create a space that is more welcoming, honours its guests and those that work there, and give people a better community experience.
- Lower energy bills mean communities feel the benefit of investment
Community organisations with inefficient buildings often spend large quantities of their funding or income on heating the building. By reducing those standing costs, funds can be spent more directly on customer-focussed activities and service, making the organisation feel better value for the communities it serves.
- Sustainable community buildings make sustainable communities
Community organisations are often the cornerstone of Welsh communities. Inefficient buildings can make organisations less financially sustainable and where fixed costs like fuel are insurmountable, community groups can shut down to the detriment of the community at large. We believe community sustainability is about more than just carbon; it is about the longevity of community assets too.
- Community organisations should lead the way
If a community decides to believe in the importance of energy efficiency, the residents in that community are more likely to follow. Community buildings can give residents a hands-on experience of renewable energy, increasing confidence in the technologies and demonstrating their value. This can lead to community buying schemes, district renewable energy agreements and local energy generation that benefits everybody.