My recent exploration into the realms of changing energy behaviours revealed a mysterious character whom I was yet to come across. This character resides at our properties and goes by the name ‘Green Champion’. They may not actually have magical powers, but they can certainly instigate small but profound changes in our attitudes towards energy; a magical enterprise indeed!
This week, I had the pleasure of discussing the benefits and challenges of ensuring behavioural change at our properties with Ruth Webb, Property Administrator and certified Green Champion at CharlecotePark, Warwickshire.
Ruth was approached four years ago to assume the role of Green Champion. Like me, she had little experience of dealing with the technological side of energy. However, she had held a central position in the property, understanding the various channels of communication for staff and volunteers. This is the beauty of the Green Champion. They are not to there to provide confusing scientific jargon about energy reduction, their role is to provide an accessible and relatable face to green energy measures.
Since assuming the role Ruth has been working hard to increase awareness of behavioural change. Drawing upon pre-existing energy measures, she ensured regular energy values newsletters and set up energy meetings for staff and volunteers to attend.
The role has not been without its challenges. Though energy use was successfully reduced from 313,662 kWh in 2010/11 to 279,542 kWh in 2011/12 the property has since struggled to meet targets. Charlecote opens its doors to the public seven days a week and manages around 300 volunteers. The diverse nature of this site can sometimes make the speed and effectiveness of behavioural change and energy reduction limited.
However, Ruth has aimed to combat this through an emphasis on peer to peer support and necessary ‘nagging’. Staff and volunteers have been encouraged to remind one another when energy saving measures are overlooked; for example when light switches or appliances have been kept on unnecessarily.
As much as this ‘nagging’ approach has had an effect, Ruth is conscious of also praising those who have been contributing towards behavioural change. The team have set up a ‘Green Star of the Fortnight’, highlighting the good work of staff and volunteers in the property newsletter.
This said, at Christmas the team are still keen to draw comparison between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ energy practices, and a ‘Green’ Father Christmas will feature in the property newsletter with his naughty and nice energy list!
Ruth is part of an ever-growing network of heritage and museum consultants committed to ensuring energy behaviour change. She recently blogged about her visit to a ‘Green Knowledge Café’, organised by her local Museum Development Officer. The meeting was part of a wider movement aimed at ‘Greening Museums’ and worked as a fantastic way to network and share energy saving ideas.
It seems that ‘sharing’ is the word of the day, after all that is what the Green Champion is all about. Though energy reduction can be challenging, if like Ruth we use initiative to share simple and accessible ways of reducing energy then this can be no bad thing. Sometimes we need to start small when aiming for something big.
Blog by Katie Canning, Media and External Affairs Intern
Find out more about Charlecote Park going green: http://bit.ly/1cb64so