Local, community-led sustainability groups are growing fast here in Cumbria. Brampton 2 Zero is one of those groups, with a core aim of ‘practically implementing sustainable energy solutions and a comprehensive scheme of community land management.’ Their projects include biodiversity strengthening and carbon capture projects with local landowners, exploring the feasibility of a solar cooperative, and working with larger Cumbria-wide projects such as Solar Made Easy and Retrofit Made Easy to bring their benefits to the wider Brampton area.
A statement on their website explains that ‘education is the key to changing the way people think about nature and conservation.’ Exploring how they have done this can give useful ideas to to other groups.
Data Driven Purpose – University Links
B2Z were able to work with Lancaster University, and through a grant from Cumbria County Council, paid a research student to calculate the carbon footprint of Brampton. The resulting report is unique, both in the attention to detail, and in the discussion it produced around carbon auditing for a local area. It gives context to Brampton, explores the socio-economic factors that can affect the ability of the community to engage with groups such as Brampton 2 Zero, and, importantly, it gives figures for how the carbon footprint could be reduced. As Phil Furneaux, founding director, explained “If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it, so you need to know!”
B2Z also worked with a research graduate – again via a grant – to liaise with community energy providers and explore the feasibility of a community energy scheme. This report, which can be read here brings together background information from feasibility studies, current energy use in Brampton and cross references them with other examples of projects from around the country. Again, providing a starting point for B2Z’s work.
Other education-linked work has involved working with local primary schools, both in visiting schools, but also in involvement in practical projects such as solar panels on their roof. Involving current university students – some of whom grew up in Brampton – not only makes it more relevant to the community but also gives real role models to those younger students in school.
Working with the local primary school B2Z has also led sessions on their Hedgehog Project, and has plans to work with the local secondary school to explore renewable energy in the local community.
The value in working so closely with education comes not only ensuring that data is accurate and that there is a basis for action, but also in reaching out to the younger side of the community, a side of the community that can be difficult to reach.