Green challenge in York success
6:25am 31st March 2011
Researchers in the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York have developed a new approach to help households reduce their carbon footprint.
The York Green Neighbourhood Challenge used national data on household expenditure and green attitudes to target neighbourhoods which had the greatest potential for behavioural change, resulting in an 11 per cent cut in carbon emissions.
The project identified those neighbourhoods in York where households considered themselves to be 'green' but had a high carbon footprint.
Researchers recruited six teams from the targeted area: three neighbourhoods, two primary schools and one church. Over a six-month period each team was supported by a green mentor. Team members received expert advice on home energy, recycling, travel and other action they could take to meet their target of a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.
Dr Gary Haq, project coordinator at SEI which is based in the University's Environment Department, said:
"The initiative shows the benefits of taking a targeted approach in reducing household carbon emissions.
With support and encouragement residents can save money, meet new people and reduce their impact on the environment."
The participants who successfully completed the challenge achieved an estimated average carbon footprint reduction of 2.0 tonnes of CO2 a year.
This is a total reduction of 11 per cent - which equates to an estimated total emission reduction of 98 tonnes of CO2 a year.
The largest reduction was seen in the area of shopping and home energy use with an average reduction of more than 20 per cent in both cases.
Dr Haq added:
"The York Green Neighbourhood Challenge was effective in achieving a statistically significant reduction in the carbon footprint of households.
The initiative has provided a legacy of a tried and test model of engagement.
"It has helped to foster community spirit by providing an opportunity for neighbours to work together.
Two of the winning teams have now merged to establish one large local community group which is continuing to promote local neighbourhood change."
The 'York model' has now been adopted sub-regionally.
The North Yorkshire Green Neighbourhood Challenge will work with community teams in seven local authorities in 2011.
The initiative was recently shortlisted for a Climate Award in the Best Local Initiative category.
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