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SPIRIT - Energising Faith Communities (SPIRIT)

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SPIRIT ran from March 2014 to November 2016 and was delivered by a partnership of 8 organisations in 8 Member States. The project engaged faith based organisations in a programme that aimed to achieve measurable energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction and lasting behaviour change.There is growing recognition that tackling energy efficiency requires more than legislation and the provision of public services; it requires collaboration between individuals, the state and communities. However, prior to this project there was limited experience of involving faith based networks in energy efficiency activities. Through SPIRIT, partners facilitated the mobilisation of these networks, by training and supporting members of faith communities to become volunteer Energy Champions, who delivered energy saving advice to fellow members of their communities.Key activities included:
  • ​Engaging faith based communities to raise awareness on energy efficiency
  • Recruiting and training volunteer Energy Champions within these communities
  • Organising advice sessions to share concrete energy saving solutions with interested households, helping them to reduce their energy consumption at home
To support these activities, the partners developed a range of materials which offer guidance on engaging faith communities, and help volunteers to grow their understanding of energy issues, the role of behaviour change and how to deliver advice. 

Results

  • The partnership has established and tested a standard methodology for the delivery of energy saving behaviour change campaigns via faith based networks that is applicable on a pan-European basis
  • Seven of the project partners undertook an average of 105 domestic demonstration energy assessments and advice sessions (led by professional advisers) in the homes of members of faith based networks – 734 in total
  • Each of these partners trained an average of 58 members of the faith based networks with which they were engaged to become volunteer energy champions – 405 volunteers in total, trained through 61 sessions
  • Once the volunteers were trained, the partners provided ongoing management, administration and support functions that assisted them in undertaking a total of 4,714 domestic energy advice sessions for other members of their faith networks
  • During SPIRIT over 4,800 advised households made a combined total of over 28,800 pledges to change the way they use energy in the home, through simple actions and small measures
  • These pledges, if kept, equate to total estimated savings of over 2,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions and almost 7,800 MWh of energy per year, or an average of 0.52 t CO2 and 1.6 MWh per household
Key resources have been developed, available at www.spirit-project.eu, including:
  • A Faith Community Engagement Manual in 6 languages
  • Energy Champion training materials in 6 languages
  • An Energy Champion Manual in 6 languages
  • A pledge card in 6 languages
  • Consumer energy saving guidance tailored to each partner country
Beyond this, the partnership has developed a legacy strategy which will support a minimum of an additional eight faith organisations in the partner countries and four faith organisations in other EU Member States to develop and deliver similar energy advice campaigns, engaging an average of 1,000 households and achieving equivalent results. 
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Lessons learned

  • Climate change is a concern for faith communities, but in general this has not translated to local action in energy management and behaviour change - this has meant it has been essential for partners to help them to see the benefits of saving energy, both for them and the environment
  • Engaging these communities on energy efficiency can be time consuming, requiring a bespoke approach for each community - this has meant that additional resources have been required, and all that all partners have needed to be flexible to the needs and availability of each group 
  • Many engaged communities are motivated more by how they/their community benefit than environmental impacts - so it is often necessary to highlight the positive impacts for them, such as lower energy bills, and improved health and well-being
  • Volunteer energy champions are busy people and may not feel confident to deliver advice alone; some are also reluctant to interfere with private space or ask personal questions - this has necessitated additional support from partners, flexibility in expectations, and a greater focus on group advice sessions which are more sociable, less intrusive and encourage group learning
  • The way messages are framed is key; group discussions that harness the power of social norms, public commitments and the social aspects of faith communities have been popular 
 
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Partners and coordinator

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Contact

Groundwork London
London
United Kingdom
Contact point: 
Name: 
Hannah Kyrke-Smith

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Key documents

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In brief

Duration:
01/03/2014 to 30/11/2016
Contract number: 
IEE-13-524

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