Remember, remember the 5th of November: Emma-Louise Frost, communications assistant at sustainability charity Ashden, gives her take on the launch of the Fit for the Future Network this week.
As a first-timer at an Ashden event, I was asked to give my view of the event with a fresh pair of eyes. However, do not think that the following glowing account is in any way simply an attempt at flattering my new employers…
Starting from the beginning, the idea for Fit for the Future came about after Ashden awarded the National Trust the 2012 Gold Award for their carbon-cutting work across their Welsh properties – achieving an astonishing 40% reduction in their energy bills.
Through the continuing support that Ashden provides to our winners to aid their growth, the idea came for a joint effort from the National Trust and Ashden to create a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing network, specifically for energy champions within charities and large property-owning organisations.
Delegates from all over the country, from organisations like the RNLI, The Crown Estate and various universities, to name just a few, congregated at Centre Point in London for a day of workshops and an evening networking reception.
The afternoon workshop was over-subscribed – not that we were complaining – and extra chairs had to be bought in to accommodate the 80 delegates, all eager to hear what their peers had to say.
At 5.30pm the bar opened, the crowd doubled and mingling began. From wandering around the room and overhearing snippets of conversations, I sensed an overwhelmingly positive vibe about what people had learnt and what they would be taking back to their colleagues.
We then heard three inspiring speeches from the Director General of the National Trust, Dame Helen Ghosh; Founder Director of Ashden, Sarah Butler-Sloss and Founder Director of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport.
The overarching message of all the speeches was that although some great work has already been done around the country, much more can still be achieved by pooling knowledge and sharing skills.
We will then be able to make significant progress towards the ambitious targets organisations need to be setting themselves to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Participants were also encouraged to ‘pledge’ during the evening. This involved writing your intentions to support the Network on a blackboard (harder than it might sound after a couple of glasses of wine), which was then photographed to be used as physical evidence against those who fail to keep their promises…
…only joking, but they do make up a lovely Pinterest board of pledges, showing off the wide variety of ways in which energy practitioners have offered to spread their experiences of reducing their respective organisations’ carbon footprints.
A standout quote from the night that really struck a chord came from the RNLI: ‘By saving energy, we save money and by saving money, we can save more lives.’
There’s already a real sense of momentum around this initiative, which is evident from the time and energy, excuse the pun, that energy champions are already committing to helping their peers on the carbon-cutting quest. I am certain that in the following months and years we’ll start to see some impressive results.
Overall, my first impression of an Ashden event is of a knowledgeable, passionate and engaged community, who are serious about mainstreaming sustainable energy– and I’m looking forward to the next one already.