The Energy Academy

September 21, 2009

energy_academy.jpgVolunteers are trained  to communicate on climate change to local residents

Pilot manager: Manchester: Knowledge Capital, UK, with Action for Sustainable Living and GM ESTAC


The Energy Academy


 The aim of Energy Academy project is to recruit a force of 20-30 volunteers who are willing to be trained by the sustainable development charity, Action for Sustainable Living (AfSL), in communicating climate change to local residents. The volunteers will operate in the Greater Manchester borough of Trafford, and in doing so also refer people to the domestic energy efficiency services offered by the Greater Manchester ‘spoke’ of the national Energy Savings Trust Advice Centre (ESTAC) network.

The objectives of the Energy Academy are:


  • To increase referrals to the ESTAC service for domestic energy efficiency / renewables advice.
  • To increase uptake of ESTAC services including home energy checks, grant support.
  • To increase awareness of climate change and the need for personal action.

In addition to these three particular objectives there are also additional general aims of improving the comfort and well-being of local people, improving the general health of local people as living conditions are improved, combating fuel poverty, helping the local economy, creating employment and training/volunteering opportunities, promoting social inclusion, saving money (through reduced energy bills) and helping the environment (through carbon savings).

Target groups

In total then there are five target groups who can be characterised in two ways: (1) those who will engage with energy users (the volunteers); and (2) the four different groups of communities (the energy users). In this respect as the motivations of the target groups are likely to be many and apri-ori they are unknown.

The target group for the Energy Academy consists of four groups: a fuel rich community, a fuel poor community, a mixed community and what the project characterises as a community of interests (e.g. a college). In many ways this diversity of target groups is a consequence of the funding streams of the project and the different interests that have aligned themselves around the project (a national energy savings agency, a city-regional initiative, a community sustainable development charity and a local authority) and their various motivations for involvement. In addition, through engaging with different target groups it creates the possibilities for comparing and contrasting the lessons from these different groups.

Additionally there is another level of ‘target group’. Not only does the target group consist of those mentioned above but also requires the targeting and recruitment of the volunteers who will work with the four target groups, and their training and support.

Type of intervention

The intervention is an Academy programme to offer training to volunteers who subsequently constitute a group of 20 Advocates from around June 2009. Volunteers initially attend a half-day MiMP Academy workshop to meet other potential Advocates, would receive guidance and training on climate change campaigning.

Those who move on to become fully fledged Advocates work with others to target a range of events and small-scale public speaking opportunities. Additionally, the project will be communicated locally to residents using well-established local authority communications routes (resident newsletters, website, community development colleagues etc.) and NGO/third-sector networks in both Trafford and Stockport. Additional support will be provided through M;KC’s MiMP pro-gramme and the GM ESTAC’s marketing programme.

The initiative will feature a comprehensive volunteer support programme, based on the experience of AfSL. This includes a programme of volunteer training sessions which has been developed by the three main partners. The programme will give volunteers tangible experience that can be evidenced in future job applications. Support for volunteers will be an integral part of the programme and feature regular supervision sessions, social events, ‘volunteer of the month’ competitions.Volunteers will be given personal targets that they will be monitored on. All volunteers are sup-ported by supervisors (also volunteers) who are in turn supported by paid staff.

The Energy Academy will be supported by web based resources (for volunteers). It is planned to upgrade public facing web-resources to provide support for and encourage action on behavioural change in relation to energy.